Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

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Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 Broadway Show – Review

The Great Comet is a soaring musical adaptation of Tolstoy’s literary tour de force War and Peace. With the help of a fantastic cast including musician Josh Groban and excellent directing from Rachel Chavkin, The Great Comet comes together masterfully. The show, created by Dave Malloy, is a clever pop opera that has received critical acclaim and comparisons to Hamilton in terms of its innovation and uniqueness. Based on a love story set amongst Russian diplomats, The Great Comet is a compelling historical narrative.

The show follows the love that begins to blossom between a young girl, Natasha, played by Denée Benton, and bad boy Anatole. Meanwhile, she is engaged to noble Andrey who is away fighting in the war. Her family disapprove of Andrey, and her sister, Hélène, goes so far as to help Anatole win Natasha’s heart. Pierre, played by Groban, is Andrey’s good friend and Hélène’s weary husband. He keeps a close eye on the developing relationship between Natasha and Anatole, unhappy with the state of affairs. Indeed, Pierre is displeased with much of his life, continuously bemoaning his troubles and generally ignored by his uninterested wife.

The Great Comet contains a multitude of complex characters and layered interactions that can be tricky to keep up with. Luckily, its complexity is fascinating and it is impossible not to pay attention to the drama unfolding onstage. Certainly, the show’s moving score helps to keep the pace up, including a range of modern operatic pieces that range from ballads to bouncy pop numbers. The Great Comet is a truly inimitable production buoyed up by its strong storyline, solid acting, and ambitious musical interludes.

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Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 Broadway NYC

Theater: Imperial Theatre
Duration: 2 hours 40 minutes (1 intermission)
Starring: Josh Groban, Denée Benton, Brittain Ashford

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812  – Act 1

Moscow, 1812, just before Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the burning of the city. As the story begins (“Prologue”) we meet Pierre a wealthy aristocrat having an existential crisis, living a slothful life of wine, philosophy and inaction (“Pierre”). Meanwhile, the young, newly engaged Natasha Rostova and her cousin Sonya arrive in Moscow to stay the winter with Marya D., Natasha’s godmother, while Natasha waits for her fiancé, Andrey, to return from the war (“Moscow”). Marya D. tells Natasha that she must visit her future in-laws, the demented, miserly old Prince Bolkonsky and his spinster daughter Mary (“The Private and Intimate Life of the House”), to win their affection and secure the marriage, which is critical to the Rostovs’ status and fortune.

However, Natasha’s visit with Mary and Bolkonsky ends in disaster (“Natasha & Bolkonskys”) and she leaves missing Andrey more than ever (“No One Else”).

The next night Natasha is introduced to decadent Moscow society at the Opera (“The Opera”); there she meets Anatole, a young officer and notorious rogue (“Natasha & Anatole”); their interaction leaves Natasha feeling confused.

Anatole, his friend Dolokhov, and Pierre go out drinking; they are met by Hélène (Pierre’s wife and Anatole’s sister), who taunts Pierre. Anatole declares his intention to have Natasha, although he is already married. Pierre finds his wife’s familiarity with Dolokhov offensive and challenges him to a duel, almost getting himself killed (“The Duel”). Afterward, Pierre reflects on his life (“Dust and Ashes”). Natasha and her family go to church (“Sunday Morning”); later, Hélène arrives and invites Natasha to the ball that night (“Charming”), where Anatole seduces Natasha (“The Ball”).

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812  – Act 2

Anatole and Natasha make plans to elope, and Natasha breaks off her engagement with Andrey (“Letters”). Sonya finds out about the plan and realizes it will mean Natasha’s ruin (“Sonya & Natasha”); she determines to stop her at any cost (“Sonya Alone”). That evening Anatole and Dolokhov plan for the elopement (“Preparations”) and call on their trusted famous troika driver (“Balaga”), to take them to Natasha’s house. However, they are thwarted at the last moment by Marya D (“The Abuduction”)

After scolding a grief-stricken Natasha (“In My House”), Marya D. sends out a letter to Pierre (“A Call to Pierre”) asking him to come and help handle the crisis. Pierre kicks Anatole out of Moscow (“Find Anatole”/”Pierre & Anatole”); Natasha poisons herself (“Natasha Very Ill”); Andrey returns. Pierre explains the scandal to him and asks him to be compassionate, but Andrey is unable to forgive (“Pierre & Andrey”). Finally, Pierre visits Natasha (“Pierre & Natasha”). After their meeting, Pierre experiences a moment of enlightenment while seeing the Great Comet of 1812 in the night sky (“The Great Comet of 1812”).

Malloy’s original score (orchestrated by the composer) merges Russian folk and classical music with indie rock and EDM influences. The piece is described by the composer as an “electropop opera” and is through-composed, with exactly one line of spoken dialogue, in Pierre and Natasha’s only scene together.

The libretto features many sections of word-for-word Tolstoy, taken from Aylmer and Louise Maude’s 1922 translation.[1]

Musical numbers


1. “Prologue” – Ensemble
2. “Pierre” – Pierre, Ensemble
3. “Moscow” – Marya D., Natasha, Sonya
4. “The Private and Intimate Life of the House” – Bolkonsky, Mary
5. “Natasha & Bolkonskys” – Mary, Natasha, Bolkonsky
6. “No One Else” – Natasha
7. “The Opera” – Natasha, Sonya, Marya D., Hélène, Ensemble
8. “Natasha & Anatole” – Natasha, Anatole
9. “The Duel” – Anatole, Dolokhov, Pierre, Hélène, Ensemble
10. “Dust and Ashes” – Pierre, Ensemble
11. “Sunday Morning” – Natasha, Sonya, Marya D.
12. “Charming” – Hélène
13. “The Ball” – Natasha, Anatole


14. “Letters” – Natasha, Pierre, Mary, Anatole, Ensemble
15. “Sonya & Natasha” – Sonya, Natasha
16. “Sonya Alone” – Sonya
17. “Preparations” – Anatole, Dolokhov, Pierre
18. “Balaga” – Balaga, Anatole, Dolokhov, Ensemble
19. “The Abduction” – Ensemble
20. “In My House” – Marya D., Natasha, Sonya
21. “A Call to Pierre” – Marya D., Pierre
22. “Find Anatole” – Pierre, Anatole, Hélène, Natasha
23. “Pierre & Anatole” – Pierre, Anatole
24. “Natasha Very Ill” – Sonya
25. “Pierre & Andrey” – Andrey, Pierre
26. “Pierre & Natasha” – Pierre, Natasha
27. “The Great Comet of 1812” – Pierre, Ensemble

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