Why You Need to Catch the Great Comet Before It’s Too Late
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 has been Broadway’s most immersive, thrilling experience ever since it opened at the Imperial Theater in the fall of 2016. This 12-time Tony nominee (tbh, we think it deserved to win way more than the 2 Tonys it netted in June 2017) is ending its brilliant run on September 3, 2017, and we encourage you to run, not walk, to the Imperial to catch this glittering comet before it shoots back into the heavens.
As we’ve mentioned in our review and our interviews with two cast members (Gelsey Bell and Nicholas Belton, both delightful) and the costume designer (the brilliant Paloma Young), The Great Comet is a pop-opera adaptation of a slender slice of War and Peace. But it isn’t your mama’s Tolstoy–this show is sexy, fun, breathtaking, heartbreaking, joyous, tragic, and worldly all at once, and it is a theatrical experience you won’t soon forget. What specifically makes Great Comet a show for the ages?
This Is Immersive Theater at Its Best
The Great Comet began life off-Broadway at the intimate Ars Nova theater. The Broadway iteration doesn’t sacrifice intimacy for scale, however: actors interact with audience from the mezzanine to the stage in unforgettable moments. The production smashes the fourth wall and happens literally all around the audience, thus realizing Tolstoy’s vision that there should be no separation between art and the viewer.
It’s the Most Fun You’ll Have on Broadway
Yes, this is Tolstoy; but it doesn’t mean that it’s boring. On the contrary, Great Comet is electric, eclectic, and exhilarating from start to finish. At times, it feels like you’re in the middle of a party where it’s impossible not to have a good time.
The Music Is Dynamic
Make no mistake: The Great Comet has the most dynamic score on Broadway. Dave Malloy’s music is staggering in its breadth: musically, the show skips around, sounding at various times like Joni Mitchell, Russian folk music, Tchaikovsky, Boublil and Schönberg, and even Stephen Sondheim. What other show this season could boast such a rich, varied musical experience?
The Technical Aspects Are Freaking Amazing
When the show moved off-Broadway from Ars Nova to a purpose-built tent (nicknamed “Kazino”), Great Comet proclaimed its commitment to a non-traditional, fourth-wall-busting staging: catwalks snaked their way throughout the tent, with audience members sitting at bar counters that doubled as a stage. Set designer Mimi Lien transformed Broadway’s Imperial Theater into what feels like a whole new space: the stage stretches into the orchestra, added staircases connect the mezzanine to the main floor, and the cast frolics everywhere in between. Additionally, the lighting is mesmerizing. Strings of lightbulbs and illuminated chandelier-comets blanket the entire ceiling of the theater, and transform into the the heavens at some of the most moving parts of the musical.
Rachel Chavkin’s Direction Is Pitch-Perfect
Director Rachel Chavkin deserves buckets of credit for transforming Great Comet in all its iterations from Ars Nova to Kazino to ART in Boston and finally to the Imperial on Broadway. Her direction made sure that the story never got lost in the musical revelry and that quiet, intimate moments carried emotional power next to flamboyant party numbers.
It Will Move You In Surprising Ways
Yes, this is a big show– the music can be loud, the cast is huge, and the Imperial Theater is a big house. But, though the show can be splashy and over-the-top, it’s at its best in quiet, stirring moments of interiority and intimacy: a young woman singing an aria about her absent lover; a depressed man singing about his desire to awaken his soul; and a dreamer who feels connected to a celestial body blazing across the night sky. The narrative arc of Great Comet isn’t typical; but it’s unexpectedness is exactly what makes it so special.
So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets to witness this once-in-a-generation Great Comet before it’s too late.
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 will be at the Imperial until September 3. More information and tickets here.
Photo Credit: Chad Batka