Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of Ars Nova's NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
Lovers are betrayed, society is scandalized and glasses are raised in Dave Malloy's electro-pop opera ripped from a slice of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Beautiful, young, and pure as the driven snow, Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await the return of her fiancé from the front lines. When she falls under the spell of the city's most charming rogue, it is up to the disillusioned Pierre, a family friend, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation.
Inspired by War and Peace, Dave Malloy adapted a section of the book into a libretto, which he set to his original score that merges Russian folk and classical music with indie rock, electronica, and organ-influenced cadences. This radical spin on a classic story transforms Ars Nova's theater into a Moscow dining club: with no "stage," the musicians, performers and audience sit together at tables piled high with dumplings and vodka as the action unfolds throughout the space.
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 features Phillipa Soo as "Natasha," Lucas Steele (The Kid – The New Group) as "Anatole," Dave Malloy as "Pierre," Brittain Ashford as "Sonya," Amber Gray (We Play for the Gods – Cherry Lane; All Hands – Hoi Polloi; Mission Drift – The TEAM) as "Helene," Amelia Workman (A World Apart – The Flea; Lear and The Shipment – dir. Young Jean Lee; She Like Girls – The Lark) as "Marya D.," Gelsey Bell (2011 live version of Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives – Performa 11) as "Princess Mary," Nick Choksi (Invasion! – The Play Company) as "Dolokhov," Blake DeLong (Tiny Dynamite – 59E59 Theaters) as "Bolkonsky/Andrey," and Paul Pinto (Perfect Lives – Performa 11) as "Balaga".
This production also features performances by Raymond Sicam (cello), Brent Arnold (cello) Sally Wall (oboe), Mark Dover (clarinet/bass clarinet), Pinky Weitzman (viola), and John Murchison (bass). Musical Director is Dave Malloy. Associate Musical Director is Paul Pinto.
The creative team includes Scenic Designer Mimi Lien (The Shaggs), Costume Designer Paloma Young (Peter and the Starcatcher), Lighting Designer Bradley King (Dead Fish), and Sound Designer Matthew Hubbs (Mission Drift).
Ars Nova awarded Dave Malloy a commission to create this project in addition to naming him 2011 Composer-in-Residence. The project has been developed through Ars Nova's Uncharted, Summer Artist Retreat and Next Step programs.
Dave Malloy has written music for seven full-length musicals, including Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage (2011 Edinburgh Herald Angel, 2008 Glickman Award, The New Yorker Best of 2009), Beardo, Sandwich, and Clown Bible ("Best Play of the Year," "Best Music," East Bay Express 2007). He is also one of the co-creator/performers of Three Pianos, a drunken romp through Schubert's Winterreise (Ontological-Hysteric Theater, New York Theater Workshop, American Repertory Theater; Special Citation OBIE Award), and the composer for the Brooklyn-based ensemble Banana Bag & Bodice. Other notable shows include (The 99-cent) Miss Saigon, a shoestring adaptation complete with a toy helicopter on a zip line, and pieces with Hoi Polloi, Witness Relocation, Clubbed Thumb, and Shotgun Players. Awards include a 2009 Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2009-11 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Theatre Designers. He was the 2011 composer-in-residence at Ars Nova, and has been a Guest Professor in devised music theater at Princeton and Vassar Universities. Upcoming: Black Wizard Blue Wizard at the Incubator Arts Project, with co-creator/performer Eliza Bent.
Rachel Chavkin is an Obie Award-winning director, educator, and the founding Artistic Director of the TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment). With the TEAM, she has directed/co-authored seven works, including Mission Drift (co-produced by PS 122, Lisbon's Culturgest and London's Almeida Theatre, with music composed by Heather Christian) and Architecting (co-produced by The National Theatre of Scotland and PS 122). Four-time winners of the Scotsman Fringe First, winner 2011 Edinburgh Int'l Festival Fringe Prize, 2011 Herald Angel, and ranked Top Ten 2007 Time Out New York, Top Ten 2009 and 2011 Portugal's Público, and Best of 2011 The Guardian, the TEAM's work has been seen all over New York (including The Public Theater and PS 122), nationally (including the Walker Art Center) and internationally (including the Barbican Centre, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, Lisbon's Culturgest, and the Salzburg Festival). Independently, she directed Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy and Dave Malloy's Three Pianos (A.R.T., NYTW, Ontological Incubator, 2010 Obie); Keith Reddin's Acquainted with the Night and Steve Yockey's Wonder (NYU Grad Acting); storyteller James Monaco's Reception (TerraNOVA's SoloNOVA Festival, HERE) the Agee/Evans Project (Working Title) created with playwright Molly Rice and composer Stephanie Johnstone (Pace and Montclair University residencies); and multiple collaborations with Taylor Mac, including The Lily's Revenge (Act II) (HERE, 2010 Obie).? NYTW Usual Suspect, Artistic Associate at Classic Stage Company, Soho Rep's Writer/Director Lab, the Drama League Directors Project, the Women's Project Director's Lab, New Georges Affiliate Artist. She teaches directing & performance at NYU and Pace University.
Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the Early Stages of their professional careers. Its unique development programs are designed to support outside-the-box thinking and encourage innovative, genre-bending work. By providing a safe environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work.Photo Credit: Richard Mitchell