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  • Ngan Dang

Review: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

Words by: Ngan Dang (she/they)

Picture Credit: WITCH Musical Theatre


Dream-like and grandiose; Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 was a memorable experience which thoroughly entertained me. I expected a messy love story, but the melancholy was balanced out with just as much fun and wit—this was truly a show of anticipation and charging emotions.


In this classic Broadway musical, co-directors Maya Handa Naff and Nick Lerew take a youthful twist to the lavish 19th-century Moscow from Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Through the stories of “young” Natasha and “warm-hearted” Pierre, the show explores their journey to navigate love, purpose, and pleasure in the heart of emotional turmoil and conflict.

 

Simple, yet sophisticated, are my first impressions of the set as I walk into Hannah Playtheatre. The stage was quite bare-bones, with a piano and an antique drawer in the middle of a sunken stage. Glittering chandeliers and ambient lighting transported me to the aristocratic world in the story. The cast was welcoming—casually chatting with the audience and sipping on drinks. It was a good kind of new for me to see such a relaxed atmosphere to greet me walking into the theatre space. 


The experimental musical score translated the highs of extravagant parties and the lows of introspection effectively. The opening theme ‘Prologue’ was a tongue-and-cheek and ingenious way to introduce the audience to the characters in an intertwined plot. From the folk melody of ‘Moscow’ as Natasha and Sonya arrive at the Russian capital, to sorrowful ballads like ‘No One Else’ where Natasha yearns for Andrey, these tunes are still in my mind days after the show.


What I found unique about this show is how the narration is interwoven within the score. There was no spoken dialogue, except for one line in the emotionally charged ‘Pierre & Natasha’. This creative direction allowed the crew’s acting and vocal talent to shine through simultaneously. Lane Corby and William Duignan were spectacular in their portrayal of Natasha and Pierre respectively. I was also enchanted by Frankie Leota’s performance as Marya, how she commanded the stage with her amazing vocals and expressions everytime she came on.


The cast’ spark is what stood out to me the whole night. Every audience interaction from the crew bought even more laughter to an already playful show. My friend and I particularly enjoyed ‘The Opera’ and ‘Balaga’, which translated the incredible chemistry between cast members. The vibrant atmosphere, created through the detailed choreography, setting, and lighting, welcomed us into a fever dream. Jackson Cordery’s aerial performances were an unexpected surprise in both songs—his amazing skills brought the ‘wow’ factor that had people focused, and it was a personal highlight. As Natasha put best in ‘The Opera’, it felt “grotesque but amazing.”


I was impressed by the immense musical talent of the ensemble and the cast. Throughout the show, you could spot the cast, led by pianist and conductor Hayden Taylor, playing various instruments alongside the ensemble. However, at times, the continuous instrumental can be a bit overbearing, making the actors’ vocals quite hard to comprehend. Nevertheless, I appreciated the cohesion created by it. 


Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 was an uplifting watch that became the highlight of my week. If you are looking for something light-hearted and whimsical to enjoy on the weekend, this is the perfect choice.

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