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A Must-See Show ‘Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’ at Horizon Theatre

2023 November 7

Whether or not you like musicals, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” at Horizon Theatre is not to be missed. The story is great, and all the performers are phenomenal.

When it opened on Broadway in 2017, the show had the highest number of Tony Award nominations in 2017, including for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical.

The play is a fully sung-through musical adaptation of a 70-page segment from Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel “War and Peace.” While that might sound serious, this play is ripe with comedy starting at the beginning. The show opens with a grand, repetitive, comedic introduction of the main characters: “Natasha (Alexandria Joy) is young; she loves Andrey (Hayden Rowe) with all her heart. Sonya (Anna Dvorak) is nice, Helene (Janine Ayn) is a slut, Marya (Terry Burrell) is the grande dam of Moscow.” This goes on for all the major characters repeatedly about six times and It’s funny. With 11 main characters, the repetition helps us to remember who is who, although I still couldn’t remember them all.

We then see Natasha and Andrey profess their love for one another just before he leaves to fight in the war—the French invasion of Russia. She then meets his father, Prince Bolkonsky (Jeff McKerley), and sister, Mary (Kendra Johnson), who conflict with one another, and we hear the internal negative feelings that Mary and Natasha feel for one another.

Soon thereafter, Natasha meets another suitor, Anatole (Jordan Patrick), and falls in love with him. But because he does not go to her family and asks Natasha directly to marry him, her godmother, Marya, forbids her from marrying him.

Helene, who is married to Pierre (Daniel Burns), tries to manipulate Natasha into marrying Anatole. Pierre is Audrey’s best friend.

It is later revealed that Anatole has been hiding a secret from Natasha, and this creates even more havoc. Meanwhile, Sonya—Natasha’s cousin and closest companion—berates Natasha for leaving Andrey behind as he is fighting for his life and country.

The actors interact with audience members who are sitting on the stage in the bar scene as well as audience members who are sitting in the typical seating area. While the play is great, what really makes this show spectacular is the cast. On the night I saw the show, Jill Hames played the part of Marya. Burrell is well known for her work in musical theater regionally and on Broadway, but I can’t imagine anyone playing that role better than Hames.

Written by composer/lyricist Dave Malloy, directed by Heidi McKerley (Jeff McKerley’s wife), choreographed by both Heidi and Jeff McKerley, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” runs at Horizon Theatre through Nov. 26.

Cast includes:

Skyler Brown as Balaga
Terrence J. Smith as Dolokhov

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