The Broadway hit “Hamilton” is at the center of a controversy after its producers issued a casting call seeking “non-white” performers, according to WCBS-TV.
The producers of the musical apologized for "the confusion" surrounding the casting call.
"The producers of HAMILTON regret the confusion that's arisen from the recent posting of an open call casting notice for the show," the said in a statement provided to TheBlaze. "It is essential to the storytelling of HAMILTON that the principal roles -- which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George) -- 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. This also follows in the tradition of many shows that call for race, ethnicity or age specific casting, whether it's THE COLOR PURPLE or PORGY & BESS, or MATILDA. The casting will be amended to also include language we neglected to add, that is, we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition for HAMILTON."
Music director Alex Lacamoire, actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of "Hamilton" celebrate on stage the receiving a Grammy award at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City on Feb. 15. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
"HAMILTON depicts the birth of our nation in a singular way,” said producer Jeffrey Seller. We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far," they added.
One civil rights attorney said that the musical's casting call may be a violation of New York City’s Human Rights Law. “What if they put an ad out that said, ‘Whites only need apply?’” Randolph McLaughlin of the Newman Ferrara Law Firm told WCBS. “Why, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians would be outraged.”
“You cannot advertise showing that you have a preference for one racial group over another,” McLaughlin added. “As an artistic question — sure, he can cast whomever he wants to cast, but he has to give every actor eligible for the role an opportunity to try.”
The press representative for “Hamilton” told WCBS that Actors Equity, Broadway’s union, approved the language in the casting call, but the union said that it approved a casting call for performers of all ethnicities to audition for the show.
"Actors’ Equity Association reviews and handles every official casting notice that goes up on our website and that we issue to Playbill and to Backstage," Maria Somma, the national communications director for Actors' Equity told TheBlaze. "All of our calls have the following language: 'Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend.'”
"The posting on the Hamilton website was done by production and is not an official Equity casting notice nor is it in compliance with our Production Contract language," she added.
One of the show’s producers, Jeffrey Seller, defended the use of the language in the casting notice, which he said contributes to the show’s diversity.
“I stand by it and believe it to be legal,” Seller told WCBS.
This post has been updated.