Hartford loses its Othello

Bamji bails on Bard play

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Hartford Stage is less one Moor.

Firdous Bamji, the Indian-born actor who starred in Hartford Stage’s production of “Othello,” abruptly left the cast in the show’s final weeks. His last performance was Wednesday night.

Jim Ireland, managing director of Hartford Stage, declined to go into details of the personnel matter, other than to say Bamji’s exit Thursday was a decision made by artistic director Michael Wilson, who felt “it was better to replace Mr. Bamji for the good of the production.”

Ireland said the move to replace Bamji was done “for a variety of reasons.” Ireland said Bamji did not quit the show.

Christopher Michael Rivera, who played Cassio and was understudying the title role, will play Othello through the end of the run May 15. Steve French will take over as Cassio.

Bamji left the production last week to attend the London funeral of John Mills, father of Hayley Mills, who is Bamji’s girlfriend. The actor returned to the Hartford production April 29 and continued to play the role until Wednesday night.

He was scheduled to perform a scene with David Patrick Kelly as Iago during a lunch-time “preview” event on Thursday. That promotional performance did not take place and Bamji was let go later in the day.

Karin Coonrod’s production cast Bamji in a role traditionally played by a black actor.

Bamji received mixed reviews for his perf as Shakespeare’s Moor; Kelly’s Iago, the larger and arguably more dynamic role, received favorable critical response.

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