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HELLO BROADWAY FANS! Time is getting closer to celebrating Broadway’s biggest night and its triumphant comeback. The 74th Annual Tony Awards is just 27 DAYS AWAY. We at New York Broadway Tours have more of your favorite showstopping performances coming your way on our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At # 27 on our countdown, we take you to Moscow, Russia in the year 1812. It tells a complicated tale of a young ingenue who is initially betrothed to another man that falls for another guy and complications begin. It also follows a socially awkward society man witnessing it all trying to make a change. This is the tale of Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812. Based on a 70 page portion from Leo Tolstory’s best-selling novel WAR AND PEACE, the musical features an original score and book by Dave Malloy.
From the 2017 telecast, Tony and Grammy nominee Josh Groban as “Pierre” and the original Broadway cast bringing the Russian party out to Radio City Music Hall. Get your Egg Shakers ready!!! Here they all are performing a medley of DUST & ASHES, BALAGA, and THE ABDUCTION.
THE GREAT COMET had its world premiere in 2012 Off Broadway at Ars Nova. The show was an immersive production under the direction of Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin. With the overwhelming response, the team continued to work on the show a little more. A year later, the Off Broadway production was then performed in a Pop-Up Theater setting TWICE in both New York’s Meatpacking District and later on in the Theater district. The Off Broadway engagements were led by….
Tony nominee Phillipa Soo as the YOUNG “Natasha”,
Dave Malloy (later David Abeles) as the DEAR, BEWILDERED, & AWKWARD “Pierre”,
Tony nominee Lucas Steele as the HOT “Anatole”,
Brittain Ashford as the GOOD “Sonya”,
Tony nominee Amber Gray as the sexy SLUT herself “Helene”,
Amelia Workman (later Grace McLean) as the OLD SCHOOL “Marya”,
Nick Choksi (later Ian Lassiter) as the FIERCE BUT NOT TOO IMPORTANT “Dolokhov”,
Blake DeLong as the CRAZY “Old Prince Bolkonsky” and “Andrey Bolkonsky” who rarely ISN’T HERE,
Gelsey Bell (later Shaina Taub) as PLAIN “Mary”,
and
of course Paul Pinto (later Ashkon Davaran) as the FUN and showstopping cab driver “Balaga”.
The original Off Broadway runs were well received by critics receiving several Awards and nominations including the Drama Desk, The Lucille Lortel, the Obie, and The Off Broadway Alliance Awards.
With its triumphant Off Broadway following, the creative team went on to expand the production for a larger audience including plans for a Broadway run. Before heading to the Great White Way, the musical made its way to Cambridge, MA playing the American Repertory Theater in 2015. With Chavkin still on board, this cast featured….
Tony nominee and newcomer Denée Benton as “Natasha”,
Scott Stangland as “Pierre”,
Lucas Steele reprising the role of “Anatole”,
Brittan Ashford reprising the role of “Sonya”,
Tony nominee Lilli Cooper as “Helene”,
Grace McLean reprising the role of “Marya”,
Nick Choksi reprising the role of “Dolokhov”,
Nicholas Belton in the dual roles of “Old Prince Bolkonsky” and “Andrey”,
Gelsey Bell reprising the role of “Mary”,
and
Paul Pinto as “Balaga”.
The Cambridge engagement was received by critics and audiences. It went on to win the 2016 Elliot Norton Award for OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION BY A LARGE THEATRE.
With the Green Light on, THE GREAT COMET made its way back to New York City and officially hit Broadway. The musical opened at the Imperial Theatre in the Fall of 2016 where it ran for a whole year playing a complete total of 368 performances. With Chavkin and the team on board, the Broadway company featured….
Denée Benton reprising the role of “Natasha”,
Josh Groban (later Okieriete Onaodowan and Dave Malloy) as “Pierre”,
Lucas Steele reprising the role of “Anatole”,
Brittan Ashford reprising (later Ingrid Michaelson) as “Sonya”,
Amber Gray reprising the role of “Helene”,
Grace McLean reprising the role of “Marya”,
Nick Choksi reprising the role of “Dolokhov”,
Nicholas Belton in the dual roles of “Old Prince Bolkonsky” and “Andrey”,
Gelsey Bell reprising the role of “Mary”,
and
Paul Pinto as “Balaga”.
The Broadway production was well received by critics and audiences everywhere. It was nominated in 2017 for the most Tony Awards…. 12 including BEST MUSICAL. However, it only took home 2 for BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL (for Mimi Lien) and BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL (for Bradley King).
During its run on Broadway, THE GREAT COMET experienced a controversial drama that ended causing the production to close and not recoup its $14 Million in ticket sales. When Okieriete Onaodowan (best known as the original “Hercules Mulligan” and “James Madison” in Hamilton) took over from Josh Groban, his performance was well received, but ticket sales began to go low financially. The show’s producers began searching for a “bigger name” to get people filling the seats. On July 26th, 2017, the website Broadway Black broke the news (before the official announcement was supposed to be revealed the next day) that Award winning stage and screen star Mandy Patinkin was set to take over the role of “Pierre” for a 3 week stint. The reaction of Patinkin’s casting caused an uproar by fans and actors, as Patinkin was a white actor whose casting would have forced Onaodowan, a black actor to cut his run shorter. Fellow actor/activisit and friend of Onaodowan himself Rafael Casal launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #makeroomforoak and #boycotthegreatcomet. The controversy led to Patinkin dropping from the show two days later after his announcement was made. It caused the entire Broadway production to fail in ticket sales and close.
Following its life on Broadway, THE GREAT COMET went on to launch productions around the world including Quito, Brazil, and Tokyo. Plans for London and many more companies are in the works.
Doesn’t this performance make you want to drink?!!
#TonyAwards #CountdownToTheTonys #NYBTTop50TonyAwardsCountdown #BroadwaysBiggestNight #BroadwaysBack #TheShowMustGoOn #ThisIsBroadway
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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