Review: ‘Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812’ at Imperial Theater

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While the show explains virtually everything else in the opening number, which strongly emphasizes that “Andrey isn’t here,” the comet, known as the Great Comet of 1811, well… (spoiler alert) it doesn’t make an appearance until the end of the show.

“The Great Comet” is immersive theater at its finest. The theater truly has the ambience of a cabaret, there are several bars spread throughout the theater itself and patrons happily (but quietly) sip on drinks as the show starts. Then comes the amuse bouche. The offer of pirogi really sets the tone and they were the best I’ve had outside of Russia. The cast members are everywhere and interact with the audience, at one point handing out eggs (I don’t want to give the spoiler away here, you’ll have to find out why yourself).

Despite the warnings of a dizzying array of names and people, since the characters sing points of narration and make clear whom they are referring to, the story is easy to follow. The plot is simple: Natasha, performed exquisitely by Denée Benton making her Broadway debut, is engaged to Andrey, a nobleman who is off fighting Napoléon. Natasha becomes infatuated with the stunningly handsome (and constantly preening) Anatole, portrayed convincingly by Lucas Steele, and enlists his sister, Hélène (Amber Gray), in an effort to win his hand in marriage.

Hélène is married to the unhappy-go-lucky Pierre, a stout bearded fellow who occasionally sits in the pit playing the piano or briefly conducts the orchestra, and is fond of walking around playing the accordion. Pierre and Andrey are close friends, but Andrey isn’t here, at least at the start, so let’s just leave it at that.

The pageantry is simply spectacular and it all makes sense in the end. While the Southern Hemisphere has seen two Great Comets in the past decades, those in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly those near the Great White Way, will be quite content with the Great Comet of 1812.

THE DETAILS

“Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”
Imperial Theater
249 W 45th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
www.greatcometbroadway.com

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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