A ‘Hamilton’ Star Is to Replace Josh Groban in ‘Great Comet’ (NYT) [x]:

[…] Okieriete Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” will succeed the pop singer Josh Groban as Pierre this summer in the musical “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”

The casting choice is striking. It reflects a bet by Broadway that “Hamilton” alumni have ongoing, bankable box-office appeal (another member of the original “Hamilton” cast, Phillipa Soo, will star in an adaptation of “Amélie” opening in April). And it is the rare instance in which two black actors are leading the cast of a show that is not about black characters: Mr. Onaodowan will star opposite Denée Benton as Natasha.

Mr. Onaodowan, a son of Nigerian immigrants who was raised in New Jersey and took up acting when an injury ended his high school football career, will assume the role on July 3, the day after Mr. Groban’s departure, and has committed to staying until Sept. 4. The musical, set in 19th-century Russia, is adapted from a section of “War and Peace” in which Pierre is a wealthy but dejected member of the Moscow elite. […]

That’s just what my references are. A lot of people, when they make music, they build a wall between them and fans. They think: ‘We’ll do this because people will get it.’ I really wanted to make an album that I wanted to listen to. That was the only way I knew I wouldn’t look back on it and regret it. It was more, ‘What do I want to sit and listen to?’ rather than, 'How do I shake up compared to what’s on radio right now?’

What Do ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Amélie’ and ‘Great Comet’ Have in Common? Phillipa Soo (NYT):

Natasha. Eliza. Amélie.

Three Broadway heroines, one drawn from a novel, one from a biography, and one from a film, have very different back stories. But they share a common catalyst: Phillipa Soo.

The actress this spring will accomplish an unusual trifecta: Three roles she helped originate will be on Broadway at the same time.


Mr. Kail still remembers the cold winter night when he first saw Ms. Soo in “Great Comet.” He was seated with theater industry professionals at the makeshift supper club that was the show’s set at Ars Nova.

“I remember sitting there and saying ‘Who’s going to do it? Which of you is going to take this incandescent talent and share her in the world?’ ” he said. “She is lit from within.”

As it turned out, it was Mr. Kail who helped give Ms. Soo her big break. He was putting together a diverse cast for a reading of the second act of “Hamilton,” and invited Ms. Soo, whose paternal grandparents were immigrants from China, to join, convinced that she would make a good scene partner with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s writer and star. Mr. Miranda read as Alexander Hamilton; Ms. Soo as his wife, Eliza.

She knew nothing about the Hamiltons. “I Wikipedia-ed Eliza, and didn’t really find a whole lot — just that she had a lot of children,” Ms. Soo said. But she knew a bit more about Mr. Miranda, having seen video of his performance of a song from “Hamilton” at the White House a few years earlier.

By 2014, Ms. Soo had committed to “Hamilton,” meaning that she would be unable to continue with “Great Comet,” which was being refigured for Broadway, ultimately with the pop singer Josh Groban as its star.

“Of course I felt sad not to have the full experience,” she said. “But all three of these opportunities came when I was ready to be in the creative process again.”

The character of Eliza is challenging — every night, the actress playing the part must grieve her husband’s infidelity, mourn their lost child, and, finally, close the show envisioning her own death.

“Sometimes I would look out and see the audience, sometimes I would look out and see my grandmother, and sometimes I would look out and see Alexander,” she said.

The smash musical made Ms. Soo much better known — her anguished solo, “Burn,” is a highlight of the cast recording — and Mr. Kail said he always knew she would move on.

“‘Hamilton’ is how a few people in the world got to know her,” he said. “But she’s just getting started.” […]

read the wonderful full article for more of Pippa’s journey!


Alright, I know I’m late to the party here but can we talk about this for a few moments?

The concept of ‘fake news’ is absolutely horrifying and propagandistic.

Anyone that says anything bad about me is lying. Don’t listen to anyone who criticizes me or reports my mistakes. They’re all liars.

The American people, particularly Donald Trump’s supporters, are being spoon-fed this pacifying mantra that any sort of negative, worrying, or even downright terrifying report on the current government is inherently fake. I could easily use this opportunity to mock Trump’s delusion and his complete lack of contact with reality, like many people already have, or liken him to some totalitarian leader like Kim Jong Un or even Hitler, but there’s no point anymore. It’s been done so many times before, and it’s so inaccurate.

However, it is undeniable that this label of “fake news” is dangerous. Had the situation been any different, it would have just been a fantastic source of comedy. An unhinged, ill-informed man with the apparent inability to form a consistent opinion yelling on social media that anyone disagreeing with him is a liar. The man’s a caricature of his own self.

But unfortunately, it’s not even near being funny. Because people believe him. They follow him. And that gives him even more power to push this agenda further.

So Trump decided that everyone who has ever criticized him is “fake news”. Which sources does that consist of? So far: CNN, the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and BBC. According to the President, they are the “enemy of the people”.

When you take the phrase “fake news are the enemy of the people” and apply it to sources which are widely regarded as reliable as far as global news are concerned - such as BBC - it roughly translates into “information is the enemy of the people”. But you can’t say that, right? It sounds bad. It sounds oppressive, tyrannical, it sounds like someone is trying to silence the people and keep them ignorant.

So it’s better to pretend you’re trying to get rid of news you’ve deemed “fake” as a way to defend your honor and your people against mindless slander.

Unfortunately for Trump, he wasn’t the first leader to come up with that. In fact, the term has been used all throughout history, by various despots and autocrats seeking an excuse to silence opposition.

The expression dates back to Roman times, when Nero was declared a “hostis publicus” - an enemy of the people - after the support of authority figures shifted from him to governor Galba, who was being used by the Gaulish rebel Vindex as an opposition. One of the first things the rebels did to cause Nero’s downfall was to paint him not as their enemy, but rather as the enemy of the people. Everyone was morally obligated to hate him, unless they wished to become an enemy of the public too.

However, the most extensive usage of the phrase was during France’s Reign of Terror. The phrase “ennemi du peuple”, which has the very same meaning, was an excuse to guillotine anyone that didn’t fit the dictator’s views, without any evidence required.

Similarly, the expression was used by the Soviet Union, under which various parties, beliefs and people were labeled as “враг народа”. The so-called “enemy of the people” could be anyone from anarchists to nationalists, from emigrants to entrepreneurs, from monarchists to old Bolsheviks. There wasn’t much consistency in who was considered to be an enemy, but it hardly mattered - anyone the Union didn’t like certainly was.

Mao, Hitler, Stalin and Chavez, among other tyrants, also characterized political dissidents as such. And they used words very similar to these:

A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. They are the enemy of the people”, spoken on the 24th of February.

Of course, this is not to imply that the US government will suddenly start annihilating journalists. It has already begun ostracizing them, however, and painting them in a highly negative light. The term creates an “us vs. them” mentality which encourages the people to - in the best case scenario - dismiss journalists and reporters, and - in the worst case scenario - assault them, whether verbally or physically. In any case, the message is clear: “the people who provide you with information are your enemies. The people who say bad things about me are your enemies.”

Fake news are indeed the enemy of knowledge. Misinformation is a hindrance and should be eliminated as efficiently as possible. However, we are not talking about actual misinformation; the term “fake news” in its current context does not mean “lies”, it means “opposition”. No doubt CNN and BuzzFeed are unreliable at best, the latter being classified more as yellow press than anything else, however I don’t recall any pro-Trump source such as Fox News, which is infamous for its frequent inaccuracies, being referred to as “fake news”. It was always the critics, the opposers, the aforementioned dissidents. As Trump himself said in the first tweet, “the negative polls are fake news”. 

“Anyone who points out my flaws is fake news. Fake news are the enemy of the people.” basically just means “Anyone who points out my flaws is a national enemy and should be treated as such.” 

“Hamilton” and the new “Harry Potter” play are the hottest theatrical shows of the moment, with “Hamilton” outgrossing everything else on Broadway, and Harry, Hermione and Ron drawing hordes of muggles to London’s West End.

But success has a side effect: Both shows have fallen prey to high-tech scalpers who harvest large quantities of seats and resell them at exorbitant markups. “Hamilton” has been hit particularly hard: When it first opened on Broadway, nearly 80 percent of seats were purchased by automated ticket bots, and for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s final performance, resellers were seeking an average of $10,900 a seat.

Now, as “Hamilton” prepares to open in London this fall and “Harry Potter” plans to open on Broadway next year, the producers of both shows are aggressively trying to contain scalping, a long-festering problem for the entertainment industry that has been exacerbated by technology. The producers of “Hamilton” are trying an unusual approach for theater — paperless ticketing — while the producers of “Harry Potter” are refusing to accept resold tickets.

And in the United States and Britain, policy makers are tackling the issue anew, concerned about the effect of industrialized scalping on consumers and artists.


Picture this: Instead of receiving a traditional ticket from the box office or a facsimile printed at home, you just get an email confirming your purchase. Then, on the day of the show, you have to bring the same credit card you used for the purchase — as well as the email confirmation and a photo ID — and run the credit card through a scanner to get in. The theory is that requiring the same credit card for purchase and entrance should complicate efforts by would-be resellers.

“Going to the theater is expensive enough as it is with the money that you need to charge to put these big shows on, so it’s absolutely ridiculous for it to be inflated by third parties,” Mr. Mackintosh said.

There are downsides: It makes it harder to purchase tickets as gifts, and there is a risk of congestion or confusion at the theater doors. And the method is not fail-safe. On the day “Hamilton” tickets went on sale in London, with a face value of up to $200, tickets were already being promoted for resale at up to $6,000. Their validity was unknown — the show has vowed to cancel resold tickets — but in theory, a reseller could try to circumvent the system by accompanying customers to the show.

For now, paperless ticketing does not appear to be an option in New York, which restricts such sales. There, “Hamilton” has tried a different approach: reducing the effect of resellers by canceling suspect purchases, and, more recently, by raising prices at the box office to more closely reflect the tickets’ perceived market value. […]