Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 previews

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WhizzerMarvin
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I checked out Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 in the new space tonight, and rarely has something so lived up to the hype. The piece is remarkably special- from the scarily talented cast, to the wildly orchestrated score and inventive direction Derek Wills only dreams about, this is 100% must-see theater this summer.

Let me talk about the show before mentioning the dinner service. A tent has been built to specifically house this musical, and the set-up is somewhat like Birdland decorated by the Bloody, Bloody set design team. Chandlers reminiscent of the ones in The Met hang from the ceiling, mirrors and pictures cover the walls and the orchestra is divided into the four corners and center wall of the tent. The stage winds around the perimeter of the tent, and much of the action winds through the tables too.

The direction and choreography is WILD! I felt like I was in a live action version of the latest Anna Karenina. I was so immersed into the world I accidentally started to sing along with the ensemble during one of the numbers!! I was so wrapped up in the song and felt like I was part of their community that the words just came tumbling out of my mouth.

I know brilliant is the most overused word on this board, and I'm just as guilty of that as anyone here, but what word am I supposed to use when something is truly brilliant? Well, the score and performances are brilliant.

The opening number finds all the actors spread throughout the audience. They begin to sing about how they're going to be telling a long Russian story. It gets confusing and everyone has nine names, but don't worry, all that stuff is in your program! Then, in the spirit of the Ragtime opening mashed with the 12 Days of Christmas, they proceed to introduce themselves. It was such a great way to start off the night.

Then we get to meet Natasha, played by Phillipa Soo. It's wonderful to fall in love with a rising starlet, and I'm so smitten with Phillipa. How often do we see a show where all the men are fighting over a women (or women fighting over a man) and the actor doesn't have the charisma to make us believe he or she would cause such an uproar? Well Soo is causing a commotion and then some.

She's engaged to Andrei, who we learned from the first number isn't there. She goes to the opera where she meets Anatole and the sparks fly.

I could go on and on about each performance, but Grace McLean as Natasha's strict Godmother, Brittain Ashford as Natasha's Cousin and Amber Gray as Anatole's sister Helene were standouts. (Yes, this show sent me into a tizzy of diva worship!)

The orchestrations are of a genre I don't even know how to describe. It's not a rock score like Bloody, Bloody, but there are elements of rock in the score. Also unlike the aforementioned show, this isn't a satire of War and Peace/Russian culture. This is a fairly straightforward telling of the story with a modern sensibility. Some of it reminded me of February House, but mostly it was its own special creation. I want a recording ASAP. A real deluxe double CD treatment is the only way to go, especially since it is sung through.

Ok, so as much as I loved the show the dinner service left a lot to be desired. I realize this was the first preview, but the wait staff was all over the place. I was in a group of three and we were place with another three guys (all very cute btw). You get one drink and dinner with the ticket, and the waitress' main concern was trying to get us to buy as many drinks as possible.

The food came out in awkwardly paced courses, and it sadly wasn't very good or filling. Instead of trying to give every guest a tiny portion of everything on the menu I wish they let us fill a plate with three different choices, or even just offer 3 or 4 different plates we could choose from.

Despite the dinner service being rough the show was so terrific that it didn't put a damper on the evening.

I can't urge anyone thinking about seeing this enough to go. Sometimes it's easy to say creativity is dead, theater is dead, it's all movies and jukebox musicals and blah, blah, blah. But then something miraculous, much like the title comet, flickers across the New York theater scene and all that complaining disappears.

Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
Updated On: 5/2/13 at 01:02 AM
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RippedMan
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Gotta. See. This. Now.
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Michael Bennett
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Glad to hear they preserved the magic of the Ars Nova staging!
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WhizzerMarvin
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I wish I had seen it at Ars Nova now. This new space was so awesome though, and since it was built specifically for the piece I can't imagine it being performed anywhere else.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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WhizzerMarvin
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I wish I had seen it at Ars Nova now. This new space was so awesome though, and since it was built specifically for the piece I can't imagine it being performed anywhere else.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
pathman2
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Can you comment on the running time? When would the Sunday noon show get out? Thanks!
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WhizzerMarvin
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I was out on the street by 11:20 last night, but the show did start very late because of the chaotic dinner service.

We actually saw a tray of 8 dinners being delivered to a table at the end of the show, so I was lucky to have received all of our food before it started and was able to leave relatively quickly after it ended.

If the show starts at noon, get there at 11am and hope to be done by 3pm.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
pathman2
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Luv2goToShows
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Thanks WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel, sounds awesome. I too wish I saw this at Ars Nova. I am going this weekend and looking forward to it. It says General Admission, how is the seating, do you have suggestions where to sit. Thanks.
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luv2go, There are several different price brackets, so I believe they seat you first come first serve at the best seats in your bracket.

I thought our seats were pretty great and we got to interact with a few of the cast members quite a bit.

The tent is rectangular and at one end there are some tables elevated to the height of the stage (where I sat). The rest of the seats are in the pit-like center. If you're down in the pit you will probably be constantly turning around in your seat as the action takes place 360 degrees around you. The trade off is the actors often join tables and sing to the guests about their troubles, loves etc.

I don't think there's a bad seat, but if you want to not be swiveling around all the time I'd sit in the elevated section.

Hope you enjoy!
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
CarrieEmmy
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I saw the Ars Nova production and thought it was gorgeous! I was concerned with the big venue, but it looks like it's still really magical. Ars Nova was so intimate, and it was hard to picture a transfer. But I couldn't be happier for their success and recent award nominations. I'm seeing it on 5/19/13, and I can't wait.

Philippa really is amazing, isn't she? I read she went to Julliard. I can totally see why she was accepted. The whole score is breathtakingly gorgeous. It's got one of the best opening numbers ever. Sticks in your head forever.
Luv2goToShows
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Thanks WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
nasty_khakis
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I saw this last night and agree with Whizzer 100% on everything. I was seriously going through some diva worship as well. Grace McLean's song "In My House" was a serious highlight for me and Amber Gray brought the house down with "Charming." Not to mention Lucas Steele is hot in that Sean Cody kind of way (he has the name for it ).

I found the score utterly delightful and was singing along at points too! It's a fully absorbing experience and am telling everyone to rush out and see it.

I also agree about the dinner service. It was a bit more organized portion/serving wise, but my table was sat by 8:15 and we had to ask three times for more water and for our "main course" to be served. Don't worry though, a waiter stopped by every minute to ask if we'd like to order booze, so...priorities.
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abitoftap
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We're seeing this on 19th May at 7..the last show on our trip from the UK. The 5 songs on Dave Molloy's website are great. Does anyone know if any more of the songs are about?

I'm still a bit unsure about timings.....do they start dinner service at 7 (for a 7 show) or the show itself then, with dinner before? What time do you recommend we get there? Our tickets are indicated as discounted through Playbill. Do they have separate sections for Playbill discounts, Broadwaybox discounts, regular prices (apart from the rich premium ticket/tsar table purchasers!!!)?

Thanks for any help.
Luv2goToShows
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I went to the Sat. matinee and loved it. Seems like they are getting their act together as far as opening their doors. I arrived just after noon, there were several people waiting to get in. I passed by the rear entrance and was told the doors would not open until 1. So we left and came back just after 1, to be told the doors will open at 1:15. They were video recording some of the actors walking in/out of the venue, following them on the street, so that may have been a reason for the delay

We got let in about 1:20 and seated about 1:30, seats were assigned from a list. We had floor seats, about 1/3 of the way in on the left hand side. I thought they were great seats, I sat on the bench side of the table, facing the floor. The view was perfect, except.... for the 2 photographers working the show, they were video recording it as well, but for the most part he stayed low. Why they did not have the photographers work during a dress rehearsal is beyond me. It was totally distracting and annoying not only to have them running around but to standing and block the view of the performer to photograph them. How many damn pictures did they need? I understand this is a preview performance but I have been to quite a few previews and have never seen anything like this.

Other then that I loved the music and performances, have to go back again. I agree with the stand out performances mentioned, I am still trying to figure out who Lucas Steele reminded me of, maybe Eddie Redmayne in Les Mis.???

The food was ok, service good but I think they are still trying to find their footing in that department since there was a bit of confusion when to serve. IMO, they should eliminate the entree portion (salmon/chicken over couscous) & just stick with finger foods since the tables are small and cramped.

abitoftap, you should get there earlier, they will not serve food once the show starts. We were served the first and second course prior to the show start, the entree came during intermission. I can not say how they assign their seating, but I agree with WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel, I do not think there is a bad seat in the house. The performers move around a lot, I guess you can say the whole place is their stage. We had an empty seat at our table, turned out it was for a performer : )


For those who are interested you can listen to some of the music from the show here:

http://davemalloy.com/comet.html

Updated On: 5/6/13 at 01:57 PM
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Whizzer, thank you for your in-depth, passionate, and exciting review. You just sold two tickets for when my girlfriend and I come in July.

Updated On: 5/6/13 at 02:10 PM
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Quick question: My girlfriend and I are coming at the end of July. It looks like discount codes are only available right now through mid-June. I definitely want to see this, but would like to wait a little bit to see if discount codes become available. However, I don’t know how well it’s selling and definitely don’t want to miss getting tickets. What would you suggest?
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macnyc
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Does anyone know what happened to the discount codes? I guess they were pulled. The BroadwayBox one isn't working.
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nasty khakis and luv2go- I'm so glad you liked the show too!

GilmoreGirl- I hope you enjoy it too, but unfortunately I think all the discount codes have been pulled. I just tried to buy some tickets myself and tried two different codes that are both coming up invalid.

I'm thrilled that the show is doing well, but it's so much easier to love flops that are easier to get into!
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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GilmoreGirlO2
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Got to see this wonderful show a couple of weeks ago and wish I lived in the area so that I would be able to go back again. What a fulfilling, exhilarating piece of theatre and an extremely talented cast (I saw Azudi Onyejekwe as Anatole and thought he was excellent in the role and I cannot say enough good things about Phillipa Soo’s performance).

I have been living off of the 5 songs posted on Dave Malloy’s website, but am desperately hoping for a full cast recording. I know nothing official has been announced (I saw someone asked about it on the official FB page and the question was responded with a very vague, “No one knows the workings of the Comet” or something to that extent), but was wondering if anyone had heard any rumblings about the possibility of this through the grapevine?
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I sooo hope they do a full cast recording. My husband and I were in NYC the Thursday they performed at Broadway in Bryant Park. We both loved the songs and have now also listened to the five songs available on the web site many times. We unfortunately did not have time to see the show while we were there (our trip was short and our theatre schedule completely booked), so now I really would love to hear more of the music. Really bummed that we weren't able to fit it in-it was one of those shows that wasn't even on our radar until we saw and enjoyed the Bryant Park performance.
Emmaloucbway
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I also really hope for a cast recording. I love this score, and cannot stop listening to the 5 samples online. I sent a tweet to the official twitter asking about a cast recording, so far no response, but fingers crossed that it'll happen!
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I heard from a cast member that a full-cast recording is likely. They just have to figure out when.
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Excellent! Gives me hope!
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Very good news about the CD -- one of the very best scores of recent years, and a terrific and very moving evening of theater. I wish I was going to be able to see it again.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/