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'Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812' is at The Cygnet Theater

Dave Malloy set his musical career in motion by turning great literature into operettas. Stories like Moby Dick, the epic poem Beowulf and, now playing at The Cygnet Theater in Old Town, his 2012 award winning Off-Broadway play "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812."

A larger-than-life vignette extracted from the middle of Tolstoy's dynamic work "War and Peace" Malloy has set Part 8 to music. To enjoy the full magnitude of this musical, rereading these 70-pages (chapters 6 to 22) is paramount. It's almost verbatim. Furthermore, by reading the text, you'll be in the know during the exuberant dancing fury of Anatole's elopement plans.

"At the midpoint of "War and Peace," Tolstoy describes the character of Pierre observing this "enormous and brilliant comet ... which was said to portend all kinds of woes and the end of the world." 

"The comet was popularly thought to have portended Napoleon's invasion of Russia (even being referred to as "Napoleon's Comet") and the War of 1812, among other events. In the musical "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812," Pierre witnesses the comet.

When asked why the comet made it into the title of the show, composer Dave Malloy responded, "for cosmic epicness."

Kudos to director Sean Murray for pulling off another delightful romp with his razor-sharp insight as the ensemble cast brought this romantic tale of love, intrigue, war, deception, and unrequited desire to life albeit to song.

Patrick Marion returned as musical director for this complex show; Shirely Pierson clothed the cast perfectly in period attire, and scenic designer Mathys Herbert brilliantly created an interactive set seamlessly melding musicians and actors.

Given the title, one would expect a grand gesture at the finale. I am still waiting.

"Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" has already been extended to May 26. The Cygnet Theater in Old Town at 4040 Twiggs. For tickets call 619-337-1525 or visit Rated 9 out of 10.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].


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