Actors’ Equity Association today named Come From Away, A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 as co-recipients of the union’s Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award for the 2016-17 season. Chosen by Equity’s National Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, the award honors shows that exemplify and promote the union’s founding principles of diversity, inclusion, non-traditional casting and equal opportunity for all who work in the theater.
Representatives from the shows will receive the awards at Equity’s Council meeting in New York on July 11.
“We are thrilled to honor three productions this year for the ways in which they exhibit diverse and inclusive casting not routinely seen on Broadway,” committee chair Christine Toy Johnson said in announcing the awards. “In The Great Comet, a multicultural company of actors offers an expanded window into the retelling of a classic Russian story. In Come From Away, based on a true story portraying citizens of a largely Caucasian community, a diverse and inclusive company of both onstage and understudy actors play multiple characters without regard to race, age or type.”
Committee vice chair Allyson Tucker added, “In A Doll’s House, Part 2, we are treated to a cast where talent reigns supreme and where we cease to be confined by our visual limitations and definitions. The diverse casting serves to strengthen the message of the play by demonstrating the universality of the issues that are at the heart of the show.”
Her comment refers to the fact that in the play, African-American actress Condola Rashad plays the daughter of white Norwegian parents played by Chris Cooper and Laurie Metcalf – a casting choice that might once have raised eyebrows; similarly, an African-American actress, Denée Benton, plays Natasha, a white Russian aristocrat, in The Great Comet. Both actresses were hailed by critics and earned received Tony nominations for their performances.