“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” has been playing in New York City since 2012. It originated as an Ars Nova Production in 2012. From there it moved to a “pop-up venue” known as Kazino in the Meatpacking District. Finally, in September, 2013, Kazino and the production moved to its current location at 259 W. 45th Street. Written by Dave Molloy, who adapted it from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” the show was the winner of a Richard Rodgers Studio Production Award. It also won a 2013 Obie Award, Best Musical Off-Broadway 2013 from the Off-Broadway Alliance Awards and was nominated for five Drama Desk Awards. Besides it being honored by the theater industry, there are other reasons why this is a good show to go to see especially with that Russian feeling all ablaze now that the Sochi Olympics are in full swing.
Theater – A set was designed especially for this show to make the audience feel like they are in a Russian restaurant from yesterday. Think of the scenes in Dr. Zhivago where the upper crust of society went to have dinner out and you will have a good idea of what it looks like. Audience members are seated at a variety of sizes of round tables or against the wall seating with a small table for each in front. In fact, Kazino, the theater name, is actually a tent like structure built at the location for the show. It was warm and comfortable and even had enough clean bathrooms to handle the crowd. A menu complete with appetizers, entrees, and drinks is also available.
Music – The entire play is told through music and it can be described as eclectic or pop/rock opera. The band has cellos, drums, a viola, piano, clarinet, bass, and some other strings in addition to a guitar. Some of the band members also participate as actors. The singing is absolutely exquisite and the songs not only tell the story, but set the mood throughout.
Actors – This has to be a taxing show for any actor to perform. Not only do they sing the entire show, they also move throughout the entire theater. You may find yourself sitting next to one of them at some point as they perform. But the high quality of the performances is what really gives this show its grand moments and there are many of them. Some of them humorous, some pitiful, some stirring and some unforgettable.
Little Touches – Everyone gets a complimentary pierogi at the start of the show which tastes pretty good. The amount of food included with the ticket varies and it’s best to check when buying what if anything other than the pierogi is included. You also might be handed a little love note from a cast member or you may be invited to get up and do a short little dance movement. There is a bit of audience participation but not enough to keep anyone away who just wants to watch. A Family Tree is even provided in the program to help understand the relationship of the characters.
Feeling of Russia – The atmosphere created by the set and the show gives the audience a feel that they are in a Russian novel. This is something to be experienced and enjoyed. You don’t need to be in Sochi right now to get that feeling; it’s right in New York City.
Find out more about Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 by going to the show’s website, http://thegreatcometof1812.com.