Nontraditional Casting

We have more casting news for the Broadway revival of Funny Girl.  Nicky Arnstein will be played by Ramin Karimloo – who is not only a gifted actor and lovely singer, but possesses one of the most stupendous physiques to ever grace God’s green Earth.  While Funny Girl is not typically laden with nudity, I am hereby lobbying for the seduction scene to be done shirtless (and perhaps pantless).  The role of Mrs. Brice will be played by Jane Lynch – which I’m sure comes as a shock to people who assumed Rosie O’Donnell was a foregone conclusion.  And under the heading of colorblind, the role of Eddie will be played by the talented Jared Grimes.

And so we come to an issue nobody seems to agree upon.  When “colorblind casting” began, the intent was good – cast actors of diverse ethnicities, races, and even genders in roles where those attributes were unimportant.  It’s often called “nontraditional casting”.  Conversely, many people feel that only gay actors should play gay roles, only black actors should play black roles, etc.  Recently, Sarah Silverman joined the discussion (apropos of Kathryn Hahn being cast as Joan Rivers in an upcoming Showtime series) by saying that only Jewish people should play Jewish roles.  I, again, look at the flip side – if only Jewish people can play Jews, does this mean Jewish actors cannot play Gentiles?  Eventually we’ll be back to a point where gay actors can only be cast in gay roles.

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Who would think that Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber would be the voice of reason in…well, in virtually any discussion?  He was asked about casting trans actors in musicals.  “I wouldn’t have any issue casting them, provided they could perform the role.  One’s got to think that if you had written a high coloratura soprano part, you’ve got to have somebody who can sing it.  If you’ve written a part for a deep bass voice, you’ve got to have somebody who can hit those notes.  But provided they could sing the role and you wouldn’t have to change the music, I’d have no concern at all.”  While that all sounds peachy, later in the interview he gives this critique of Madonna as Evita: “To this day, I don’t think anybody else could have done it better.”  Oh my!

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