Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

This musical has seen many stagings: Ars Nova (more of a reading, really), Kazino in the meatpacking district), a lot on 8th avenue, ART in Boston. And now it’s finally, finally on Broadway. Cheap tickets have been hard to find so Kristen and I jumped on $40 tickets that NYU offered her for a student night recently. We found out Josh Groban was out when we arrived but quite honestly, I didn’t care. Josh Groban is really just a non-theatrical version of Josh Young anyways, right? Right.

I sort of remembered the story when I saw The Great Comet in 2013 and Kristen had read the book, so we had an idea of what was going on. 

Let me start by saying that the star of this production is not anyone on the stage, it is the stage, and theatre, itself. I would love to see the budget for the theatre renovation because it is spectacular. In this new staging, they tried as hard as they possibly could to not let the show get lost in the space. They made as many opportunities as possible to get the actors mingling with the audience.

And you definitely want this cast to mingle with you. They are fierce. A lot of them are from the 2013 production and they are all so very talented. Lucas Steele was out, but I think I enjoyed his understudy, Josh Canfield, even more as the pompous asshole Anatole. Scott Stangland was on as Pierre for Josh Groban and he gave a lovely, really nuanced performance.  

The story is kind of ridiculous, though. Natasha meets Anatole and falls for him immediately, not seeing that he’s a complete douche? Come on. And the ‘Great Comet’ is mentioned only in the last 15 seconds of the show. It’s kind of ridiculous. There’s also a LOT going on – because it’s a Russian novel, so, yeah: dense. But as hard as they try, the show gets lost in a theatre as “big” as the Imperial. We sat in the front-rear mezzanine for the first act and it fell flat. When we moved down the second row of the front mezzanine, it became a little bit more exciting.

To that end: this show is beautiful, as is the cast and the score. I just wish it were in a different theatre.

When I was working in advertising for the first time in 2013, that was the first time I heard of Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812. It’s now headed to Broadway and I can’t wait to see it in an actual Broadway theatre, since that’s where they planned to put it in the first place.

The lead producer, Howard Kagan, when he signed on with the agency originally planned to produce it in a Broadway house. Shortly after he changed his mind and thought an off-Broadway house would be better suited for the unique show. Finally, though, they decided they’d build their own space in a vacant parking lot in the meatpacking district. Is this show ever going to go up? we’d say quietly in our seats.

It did, though. I saw it that spring and it was lovely. They transformed that parking lot into an awesome nightclub (way better than anything that’s currently in the Meatpacking District) and the food and atmosphere were incredible. The performances were also awe inspiring.

The next incarnation of The Great Comet hit the vacant parking lot on the corner west of the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 46th Street and 8th Avenue. I didn’t see that version but I’d imagine it was more of the same – which would be nothing short of a great show.

But it’s finally here. With Josh Groban attached to it. It has a theatre which I’m certain is under a massive amount of construction and I will totally go see it. There won’t be a free meal, most likely, but it’ll be a smart score and fantastic voices. 

I’m excited and you should be, too.