The sudden resignation of Broadway star Zachary Noah Piser as the lead in a play about the Tiananmen Square Massacre is raising suspicion.
Piser made the announcement from Shanghai where he is on tour and just one day after the Phoenix Theatre Company announced the news, reported Playbill.
He had been set to play the lead role of Peiwen in Tiananmen: A New Musical and had said he had personally been helping to develop the play since 2015.
The massacre in 1989 following pro-Democracy protests ended in the deaths of up to thousands of protesters-although the exact number of lives lost has never been confirmed. It remains a politically sensitive topic in China.
The announcement from Piser posted on his Instagram account simply read: I have withdrawn from the musical Tiananmen.
A spokesperson for Piser said he departed “due to creative differences.”
However, a protest leader who worked as a consultant on the production thinks there may be another reason.
“I believe…the reason for his withdrawal is not ‘creative difference,’ rather, simply fear. He was given pressure by Chinese authorities,” said Wu’er Kaixi to CNN.
Producer Jason Rose vowed that the show would go on.
“This story needs to be told and will be told. Censorship and pressure will not carry the day. Our celebration of bravery for lovers of freedom will,” he said.
Others in the cast include Ellie Wang (Allegiance), Sami Ma, Brandon Chu (The King and I national tour), Kennedy Kanagawa (Into the Woods), Austin Ku (Chinglish national tour), Michael Ching (Gold Mountain), Marc Oka (Flower Drum Song), Sy Chounchaisit (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical national tour), Brandon Gille (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Kuppi Jessop, Danielle Mendoza, Emma X. O’Loughlin (A Chorus Line Japan tour), Andrea Somera (Assassins), Michelle Chin (Cinderella), Raymond Dimaano (The King and I national tour), Rommel Pierre O’Choa (My Fair Lady), and Cindy Tsai.
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