The producers of the hip-hop historical musical “Hamilton” have run into trouble over a recent open casting notice seeking “non-white” singers for Broadway and upcoming touring versions of the hit show.
Actors’ Equity Assn. criticized the notice, which appeared on the official “Hamilton” website, saying that the race qualification is inconsistent with its policies that provide for equal opportunity throughout the theatrical industry.
The “non-white” casting calls were set to take place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco over the next two months. The original notice read that producers were seeking “NON-WHITE [sic] men and women, ages 20s to 30s.”
But they also said that most of the main roles will continue to be “performed by non-white actors. This adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a ‘bona fide occupational qualification’ that is legal.”
In the statement, “Hamilton” producers compared the musical to “Porgy and Bess,” “The Color Purple” and even “Matilda,” which also “call for race, ethnicity or age specific casting.”
A spokeswoman for Equity said in a statement: “We are pleased that the original copy on the ‘Hamilton’ website will now include that all ethnicities are welcome to audition, which brings it in line with Equity policies.”
“Hamilton” features minority actors in all of its prominent roles except for King George III, who is played by a white actor. The non-traditional casting was part of the conception of the historical musical since it opened last year at the Public Theater in New York and later transferred uptown to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre.
The musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, gives a contemporary, hip-hop-inflected spin on the historical story of Alexander Hamilton.
In L.A., “Hamilton” singing auditions are scheduled for April 16 at the Hollywood United Methodist Church. A separate audition for hip-hop dancers is scheduled for April 14 at 3rd Street Dance, near Beverly Hills.
“‘Hamilton’ depicts the birth of our nation in a singular way,” said producer Jeffrey Seller in a statement on Wednesday. “We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far.”