UPDATE: NJ theater cancels play after criticism of cast being too white


Two River Theater in Red Bank has issued an apology about the casting of mostly white actors.

The reading of the 1939 play "On Borrowed Time" scheduled in two parts on Aug. 5 and 6 was criticized after headshots of the performers scheduled to read, including Phillipa Soo of "Hamilton" fame, Blair Brown, Bebe Neuwirth and Sam Waterston, were posted on the theater's social media and website. Broadway legend Joel Grey is directing the reading.

The reading will be performed online via Zoom as theaters are still not permitted to open under an executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Quentin Garzón in the comments of the initial Facebook post about the performance was one of several that called the casting "tone deaf."

"If there's something I've learned from being a fellow creative is that having a multi-racial cast not only brings more excitement to a show but also makes whatever show you are doing much more interesting and layered," Garzón wrote.

"All of the people involved in this are spectacular people and artists. However, I really do not understand how and why Two River is choosing to use this moment to produce a reading of a classic play with an all-white cast with the exception of Phillipa. I’m telling you, one step forward and two back," Maxwell Friedman wrote.

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The theater left the comments up and said it was thankful for "calls for our accountability."

"We hear you...We apologize for the harm we have caused and acknowledge we must do better,” read a statement. “There is no adequately defensible reason for not having cast more artists of color in this reading.”

The theater said it would review its decision making process and promised “more action to come.”

The cast of the performance has not changed.

"On Borrowed Time" tells the story of the love between a little boy and his Gramps. When Death himself pays them a visit in the form of a man named Mr. Brink, Gramps outwits him, trapping Brink in a tree and refusing to let him down.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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