REVIEW: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

In The Round is a student-run theater organization that produces two theatrical productions in an academic year. Last year, the organization produced Mart Crowley’s Boys in the Band and Stephen Stater’s Spring Awakening. This year, In The Round presents the ambitious and timely, Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812. 

NP&TGC is a 2012 electro-opera musical that was adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It was written by Dave Malloy and won the Tony Award for Best Musical, Book, Score, and Orchestrations in 2012. It features vibrant, eclectic music with sudden shifts reflecting the turbulent situation between the characters and the state of 19th-century Russia. The music was extremely unique, with powerful, sweeping vocal moments and striking EDM-like dance scenes. I adored the creativity and thoughtfulness behind the score.

The actors maneuvered through this piece well. There are some incredibly difficult moments in this show that I commend the actors for working through and creating their own. The sustainably sourced costuming was another lovely addition that is appreciated in a time of dire need for increased sustainable options.

This production was performed in the Arthur Miller Theater, a thrust space. Some pictures of the staging/tableaux that were created in scenes were lost to me because of my stage-left seating. From my seat, some events that were happening in the plot were lost because of the dancers or levels the actors were creating. I wondered if my experience would have been different sitting in the upper mezzanine center. Pierre’s ‘home’ in the left-hand corner of the stage was visible to me, and his intentional manic scribblings throughout the musical were a compelling acting choice. Select moments between Anatole and Natasha were visible, and what I could see was beautiful, the two portrayed electric chemistry.

In The Round states that it is an organization “dedicated to queer stories and queer storytellers…we produce performances, relating the themes of our shows to themes of queer culture.” I admire that a theatrical organization is taking the initiative to amplify queer voices, but I seem to have missed the intention behind this production of NP&TGC specifically representing and amplifying an LGBTQ+-based story. There is evident relevance that anything could be a queer story, but I found myself longing for a more direct interpretation of the queerness in the show. I note that this is certainly a point up to interpretation by each audience member.

NP&TGC is an ambitious choice for any theater with its intense level of technical production, difficult musical excerpts, and involved direction. This gripping score is a vocal and emotional challenge and I commend everyone involved for creating this challenging piece of theater. 

Congratulations to everyone involved in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. In the Round will be performing bare: A Pop Opera next semester March 7th-9th in the Arthur Miller Theater. Auditions will be early next semester. 



Image thanks to In The Round on Instagram. 


Musicalsoup is a senior at SMTD who primarily reviews theatrical and musical performances in Ann Arbor. She is active in the student theater scene at UMichigan and enjoys the versatility of the performances she covers on art[seen]. Thanks for reading. :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *