Benjamin Walker, a Broadway star since his 2010 breakthrough in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, will join Annette Bening and Tracy Letts in the Roundabout Theater Company’s upcoming revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
Normally, that casting alone would garner attention in the theater community. But today’s casting announcement by the Roundabout also included confirmation that one – though not both – of the casting choices over which previous director Gregory Mosher resigned in December had been fulfilled.
Nearly two months after Mosher quit the production over disagreements about color-blind casting, Shades of Blue‘s Hampton Fluker, widely believed to be one of the actors Mosher wanted, will indeed play George Deever, a traditionally white character (Fluker is black) in the revival now being directed by Jack O’Brien, who took over when Mosher resigned over a casting disagreement with Rebecca Miller, who runs the estate of her father Arthur Miller.
Mosher had wanted to cast a black actress to play George’s sister Ann, who has a romance with the character played by Walker (who is white), but Miller reportedly felt that the interracial relationship would “whitewash” the racism of the late 1940s era.
Playing George’s sister Ann will be Francesca Carpanini, a white actress who appeared on Broadway in 2017’s The Little Foxes.
Miller, according to a December report in The New York Times, had agreed to the then-unidentified black male actor’s casting, but disagreed with Mosher’s intentions to cast a black actress to play Ann.
A writer and director herself, Miller told The Times in December, “My concern was that to cast the Deevers as black puts a burden on the play to justify the relationship in the historical context. I was worried that it would whitewash the racism that really was in existence in that period by creating this pretend-Valhalla-special family where no one would mention this.”
Rounding out the cast will be Michael Hayden, Jenni Barber, Nehal Joshi and Chinasa Ogbuagu.
The production begins previews Thursday, April 4, with an official opening on Monday, April 22. The limited engagement at the American Airlines Theatre runs through June 23.
Mosher told The Times he resigned when he couldn’t come to an agreement with Miller. “I was auditioning black actresses, which means the black acting community in New York knew I was doing it,” he told the paper. “I didn’t know what to say to these actors. I’ve decided to hire a white girl? I couldn’t find somebody? What am I supposed to say?”
The play is set in the aftermath of WWII, as the Keller and Deever families, longtime friends and business partners, fall apart over revelations that the machine parts they manufactured were faulty and resulted in military deaths. The Deevers’ father has taken the fall.
Among the war dead is Chris Kellers’ brother, who was the boyfriend of Ann Deever. Chris and Ann develop a romance during the course of the play, angering Ann’s brother George, who sides against the Kellers in the feud.
The revival will mark Walker’s return to the stage after 2016’s American Psycho musical. His breakthrough came in 2010 in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.