dave malloy

Natasha, Pierre
& The Great Comet of 1812

An electropop opera ripped from a slice of Tolstoy's War & Peace

World Premiere:
Ars Nova
Oct - Nov 2012
Opening Night: October 16, 2012

Off-Broadway Transfer:
Kazino in the Meatpacking District
May - Aug 2013
Opening Night: May 16, 2013

Kazino in Times Square
Oct 2013 - Mar 2014
Closing Night: March 2, 2014

American Repertory Theater, Cambridge MA
December 2015

Imperial Theater
November 14, 2016—September 3, 2017

South American Premiere:
Teatro Parapluie, Quito, Ecuador
September 2014


Sheet music available at Blue Wizard Music
Licensing available at Samuel French


Music from the show

*2017 Tony Award, Best Set Design of a Musical (Mimi Lien), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Bradley King)*
*Twelve 2017 Tony nominations: Best Musical, Music, Book, Orchestrations, Direction, Choreography, Set Design, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Lead Actor (Josh Groban), Lead Actress (Denée Benton), Featured Actor (Lucas Steele)*

*2013 OBIE Award, Special Citation to Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin*
*2013 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater*
*Three 2014 Lucille Lortel Awards: Lucas Steele, Outstanding Featured Actor; Mimi Lien, Outstanding Set Design; Paloma Young, Outstanding Costume Design; and Eleven Nominations, including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director (Rachel Chavkin), Oustanding Actor/Actress (Phillipa Soo, Brittain Ashford, Shaina Taub, Blake DeLong), and Outstanding Design (Matt Hubbs, Bradley King)*
*Best New Musical, 2013 Off Broadway Alliance Awards*
*Five 2013 Drama Desk Awards Nominations: Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical (Rachel Chavkin), Outstanding Music, Outstanding Lyrics, Outstanding Costume Design (Paloma Young)*
*Two 2013 Drama League Awards Nominations: Outstanding Production of a Musical, Distinguished Performance (Phillipa Soo)*
*2013 Henry Hewes Design Award for Scenic Design, Mimi Lien*
*Best of 2013, NY Times (both lists)*
*Best of 2012, Time Out New York*
*Best of 2012, New York Magazine*
*Best of 2012, New York Post*

*2012 Most Galvanizing Moments, New York Times*
*Eight 2016 IRNE Awards: Best New Play, Musical, Director, Set, Costume, Lights, Sound, Actor (Scott Stangland)*

NY Times Feature: "The Composer Wears Many Hats"
NY Times Feature: "Care for Caviar and Chandeliers With That Musical?"
New Yorker Feature
Time Out NY Interview with David Cote
Theater Talk Interview
WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show
Essay for Interview (in Russian!)
TheaterMania Set Design Feature with Mimi Lien
Time Magazine Feature
"Charming" named one of the "Songs of the Summer" in the NY Times
Buzzfeed: 15 Reasons To See "Great Comet" If You Loved "Les Mis"
Buzzfeed: 43 Best Musicals Since 2000
Playbill Interview
...and here's where a reviewer threw a woman's cell phone across the room

Reviews from the Kazino run:

Critic's Pick...A vibrant, transporting new musical…directed with propulsive sweep by Rachel Chavkin…Mr. Malloy’s lyrical voice is blunt, funny and forthrightly contemporary…Natasha, played by a luminous Phillipa Soo with a soft ardency that’s continually affecting, serenades the winter moon as she sings of her love for the absent Andrey. Another touching song, featuring one of Mr. Malloy’s most fetching melodies, finds Ms. Ashford’s Sonya vowing to save her beloved cousin from her own folly, even if it means betraying her confidence…Mr. Malloy imbues (Pierre) with a rumpled delicacy of feeling that’s just right…when that comet streaks through the sky at the hushed climax of the show, Pierre experiences an epiphany that had my heart leaping into my throat, as he sang with humble joy of the mysterious workings of human affections.”
-Charles Isherwood, New York Times

"Jonathan Larson’s Rent showed that a pop musical could be a sophisticated art form. And pop styles are crucial to the eclectic wonder that is Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, the audacious work by the composer and lyricist Dave Malloy, which fashions a slice of Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace into a breathless, roughish and ravishing quasi-opera. This is a pastiche score of a cavalier sort. Mr. Malloy lifts styles with such abandon, making willful shifts — from punk riffs to agitated Broadway ballads, mock-pompous recitative to gritty Russian folk songs or drinking choruses with klezmer clarinets — that you lose track of what is being appropriated and really don’t care. On one level, Great Comet is a brash comic exercise: Mr. Malloy doesn’t really bother to rhyme lyrics or maintain musical consistency. Yet I was swept up every moment by this brashly theatrical work"
-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

5 Stars (out of 5)…Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 was the best thing I saw in a theater last year, when it played at Ars Nova; now it has reopened at Kazino, bigger but as beautiful as ever. Director Rachel Chavkin’s restaging preserves the sense of convivial welcome that makes the show feel magical…The closeness of the quarters is essential to the way Natasha, Pierreoperates; at such close range, the more raucous numbers in Malloy’s highly eclectic score—including several that dabble in electronica—come to vibrant life, while the more delicate ones have room to spin their silk…Although much of the plot is unhappy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 is ultimately a joyous affair...Each scene takes you by surprise; each song takes you for a whirl. Inventive and thoughtful, knowingly sincere, this is theater like no other in New York. It grounds you and transports you at once, and leaves you beaming with pleasure.”
-Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

4 Stars (out of 4)...Malloy’s pop-inflected score brilliantly mixes modern beats and acoustic arrangements, but don’t expect hip, detached irony. Like Once, this is a musical that takes affairs of the heart seriously, including friendship: A highlight is the heartbreaking “Sonya Alone,” in which Natasha’s cousin, Sonya (Brittain Ashford), despairs at the turn of events. So many things feel special here, like the way the actors always move about the room, creating a feeling of intimacy. Or the fact that when Soo sings lines like, “You are so good for me/I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you,” she does it with a startlingly pure conviction. Or the final epiphany of the sensitive family friend Pierre (Malloy himself), which ends the show on a joyous note that’ll make you cry.”
-Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

“This astonishing new musical adapts a 70-page section of the book, mashing up imperialist Russia and an eclectic range of styles, turning Tolstoy into a swoon-worthy, vodka-soaked party. The brainchild of composer-lyricist-performer Dave Malloy and director Rachel Chavkin, this piece is set in a cabaret space called Kazino, an ad hoc Russian nightclub where you can down shots of vodka and nibble pierogies….Malloy's music is heartbreakingly beautiful, ranging from punkish versions of Russian folk, Tom Waits-style blues, electronica and plaintive indie pop. It's a sensual, wild ride: rollicking music, beautiful singing, a feast for the eye, ear and mouth. Also the young cast is phenomenal: newcomer Phillipa Soo as Natasha, Lucas Steele as Anatole and Malloy himself as a boozy and bluesy accordion-squeezing Pierre.”
-David Cote, NY1

“What's Russian for chutzpah? Whatever the word, Dave Malloy has enough of it to fill all of Siberia…Malloy has written a memorable and modern score that blends Russian folk melodies with pop-music hooks and occasional dance beats of the sort you might hear at any of the neighboring clubs in the Meatpacking District.…Malloy brings a world-weariness and vocal growl to the intellectual Pierre. Lucas Steele is dashingly caddish as the lothario Anatole who seduces the already-betrothed Natasha. And the radiant Soo plays Natasha with heart-on-her-sleeve innocence. By the end of this sensational and singular Off Broadway production, there may not be a dry eye in the dacha.”
-Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly

“A strong and compelling piece of musical theatre, arguably the best of the 2012-2013 season on Broadway and off….a musical of talent and heart….Natasha is wondrously played by Phillipa Soo. She is just about matched by Brittain Ashford as her cousin Sonya, who scores with a strong soliloquy in the second act ("Sonya Alone"). Lucas Steele…is also a joy as the conceited—and yes, hot—Anatole. The linchpin of it all is composer/lyricist/librettist/orchestrator Malloy as Pierre. His final scene with Natasha—when he stumblingly confesses that if he were bright and handsome and free he would propose to her—is breathtakingly pure. He follows this directly with the exhilarating finale, ‘The Great Comet of 1812.’”
-Steven Suskin, Huffington Post

From the Ars Nova run:
“The prodigiously talented composer Dave Malloy writes music that’s as merry as it is sophisticated, full of accordions, clarinets, hearty group singing, and wit. In this intimate new ‘electropop opera,’ his most ambitious full-length work so far, he’s adapted a section of War and Peace, set it around tables in a haimish, tavernlike space, and cast himself as Pierre, the awkward ‘warmhearted Russian of the old school’ at the center of the novel. The naïve young Natasha (Phillipa Soo), the devious Anatole (Lucas Steele), and others sing Malloy’s terrific songs and bustle around the audience as the tale of betrayal and redemption unfolds.”
-The New Yorker

5 Stars (out of 5)…Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 feels like a party from start to end: lively, intelligent and utterly engrossing…The dazzlingly variegated score—which covers musical terrain from folk songs through rock, R&B and house music—captures their story in stirring and surprising ways; it is superbly performed throughout by a cast led by Malloy as the self-loathing Pierre...this is a rare and marvelous event: amid the din of New York, an oasis of artful illumination.”
-Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

“Critics' Pick...An improbably wonderful electro-pop opera based on part of War and Peace…Turns out that Tolstoy’s introspective, emotional, impetuous characters take remarkably well to the pop-song format...Mr. Malloy has composed a score that moves easily from the dramatic to the lyrical, and includes Russian and classical sounds too…at the end, Pierre sings of himself, ‘He felt tears begin to trickle underneath his spectacles/And hoped no one would see.’ Looking around, I saw other tears beginning to trickle. Some might have been mine.”
-Rachel Saltz, New York Times

4 Stars (out of 4)…Much like the celestial body of its title, the new pop opera Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 has appeared out of nowhere to brighten the theatrical season. Instead of flashy ads and overhyped stars, this thrilling new show relies on ambition, ingenuity, craft and heart. Are you paying attention, Broadway?...The story is told in a series of inventive songs that go from klezmer stomp to country-fried ballad to plaintive torch’s hard to pick stand-outs, though Soo, a recent Juilliard grad in a star-is-born performance, displays rare poise and a clean, pure voice free from self-indulgent gimmicks. And Brittain Ashford’s aria ‘Sonya Alone’ creates the same lump in the throat as an old Dolly Parton lament. But the show’s trump card is the way music and staging are intertwined…The space becomes the stage and vice versa, as the cast deftly zoom around us. This makes for a fun experience, but also an intimate and soulful one. The show concludes as Pierre sees the comet and has an epiphany. It’s a searingly beautiful moment, and it takes place with the house lights shining on. Careful: Everyone can see you cry.”
-Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

“It's a mouthful of a title, so here's my suggestion for a catchier alternative: Best Musical of the Year.”
-Elisabeth Vincentelli, The Determined Dilettante

Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations
by Dave Malloy

Adapted from War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Directed by Rachel Chavkin
Music Direction by Or Matias
Choreography by Sam Pinkleton

Set Design by Mimi Lien
Costume Design by Paloma Young
Lighting Design by Bradley King
Sound Design by Nicholas Pope
Music Supervision by Sonny Paladino
Stage Management by Karyn Meek

Lead Producers
Howard & Janet Kagan and Paula Marie Black

Commissioned and Developed by Ars Nova
Jason Eagan, Artistic Director
Jeremy Blocker, Managing Director


Denée Benton (Natasha)
Josh Groban (Pierre)
Brittain Ashford (Sonya)
Gelsey Bell (Mary/Opera Singer/Maidservant)
Nicholas Belton (Bolkonsky/Andrey)
Nick Choksi (Dolokhov)
Amber Gray (Hélène)
Grace McLean (Marya D.)
Paul Pinto (Balaga/Opera Singer/Servant)
Scott Stangland (Pierre Standby)
Lucas Steele (Anatole)

Sumayya Ali, Courtney Basset, Josh Canfield, Kennedy Caughell, Ken Clark, Erica Dorfler, Lulu Fall, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Nick Gaswirth, Alex Gibson, Brad Giovanine, Billy Joe Kiessling, Mary Spencer Knapp, Blaine Alden Krauss, Reed Luplau, Brandt Martinez, Andrew Mayer, Mary Page Nance, Shoba Narayan, Azudi Onyejekwe, Pearl Rhein, Celia Mei Rubin, Heath Saunders, Ani Taj, Cathryn Wake, Katrina Yaukey, Lauren Zakrin (Ensemble)

Or Matias (MD/Piano)
Matt Doebler (Keyboard/Accordion/Glockenspiel/Asst MD)
Marilyn Cole (Oboe/English Horn)
Hideaki Aomori (Clarinet/Bass Clarinet)
Claudia Chopek (Viola)
Alon Bisk (Cello)
Caryl Paisner (Cello)
Thad DeBrock (Guitar)
John Murchison (Bass)
Joey Cassata (Drums)


Ingrid Michaelson (Sonya)

American Repertory Theater
Lilli Cooper (Hélène)
Daniel Edmond (Ensemble)
Matthew Hubbs (Sound Design)
Lizzie Burns, Jason Fisher, Miri Kudo, Chu-Yun Lin, Loewi Lin, Ben Moniz, Nate Tucker, Ryan Yúre (Band)


David Abeles (Pierre)
Ashkon Davaran (Balaga)
Blake DeLong (Bolkonsky)
Ian Lassiter (Dolokhov)
Dave Malloy (Pierre)
Phillipa Soo (Natasha)
Shaina Taub (Mary)
Catherine Brookman, Luke Holloway, Mariand Torres (Ensemble)
Brent Arnold, Meaghan Burke, Mark Dover, Caleigh Drane, Mara Mayer, Vinny Pavlish, Raymond Sicam III, Sally Wall, Pinky Weitzman (Band)

Ars Nova
Amelia Workman (Marya D.)
Stage Managment by Trisha Henson
Music Direction by Dave Malloy
Assistant Music Direction by Paul Pinto

Ars Nova Production funded in part by the
Composer Assistance Program of New Music USA

Photos from Kazino by Chad Batka:

Photos from Ars Nova by Ben Arons: