Stephen Adly Guirgis's play The Motherf@*ker With The Hat was hands-down the funniest play on Broadway this year, and actors Bobby Cannavale and Elizabeth Rodriguez were unforgettable as the story's two star-crossed Latino lovers. They were both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances, and Big Ben Brantley at the Times wrote that "the broken, jagged heart of this production belongs to Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Cannavale, who turn their characters’ relationship into a bruising, tragicomic apache dance of love, betrayal and indecision." They're tough enough acts to follow for regional theater actors, but in Hartford the director has made matters worse by inexplicably casting two white actors in the parts.

If you've seen the play, you'll realize this makes no motherf@*king sense—the principal characters are so thoroughly enmeshed in the NYC Latino milieu that it's inconceivable to think of white people portraying them. Jackie, the role created by Cannavale (whose mother is Cuban) has several scenes with his Puerto Rican cousin, and the play's dialogue makes it abundantly clear that Jackie and his lover, Veronica, are Hispanic. This production was cast in Hartford and NYC, so it's not as if they didn't have plenty of capable Hispanic actors to choose from. So why did Hartford's TheaterWorks choose two Caucasians? That's what Guirgis would like to know. Here's his Facebook rant:

In Hartford Connecticut, the mayor is Puerto Rican. But in TheaterWorks production of my play in Hartford - the 2 lead Puerto Rican characters are played by white actors. The play was cast in NYC & Conn, and if you look at the breakdown here, you will see that not only did they not cast Latinos, they didn’t even seek Latinos for the 2 Latino leads!!! Please share my headshaking anger.

In an interview with ArtsBeat, Guirgis says he decided to make his concerns public because the TheaterWorks executives "are in a position of accountability and yet refuse to take responsibility for mistakes in the casting... I want the play to get done, and I’m not going to micro-manage casting, and I know there are parts of the country where it’s harder to find a lot of Latino actors. But this play was cast in New York City and in Hartford, and you can’t tell me that there weren’t qualified Latino actors to play characters who are Puerto Rican."

The play's director, Tazwell Thompson, told Guirgis in an email that his casting was "indefensible." But ArtsBeat reports that Thompson, who is black, also noted that "he had worked for years to cast minority actors in theater productions and that he had started a program at Arena Stage in Washington to provide training to young minority actors." (We're guessing he also has lots of Hispanic friends!) Reviewing the Hartford production, the Times critic wrote that "the actors don’t sound even vaguely Hispanic, and their broad A’s suggest that... [they] came to New York City via Massachusetts."

As you can see below in this video from the Broadway production, this casting is just f@*king stupid. But we're looking forward to the Hartford revival of August Wilson's Fences, starring John Stamos and Tyne Daly!