“It’s different for me,” said Groban of performing eight shows a week instead of his usual lifestyle as a recording and concert artist. “Our composer, Dave Malloy, found this 70-page portion of War and Peace; he was reading War and Peace, as you do, and he just thought it would be a great basis for a musical. Especially for the times that we are in right now, it’s amazing how when you contemporize something like this story, it really has such deeper meaning.”
Groban is now reading the “doorstop of a novel,” as he calls it. He’s on page 820, with about 300 to go.
Colbert asked Groban about the padded fat suit he wears, wondering why he didn’t gain the weight for the show. “I probably couldn’t if I wanted to because I’m sweating so much in that suit. The ironic thing is I wind up burning so many calories doing the show,” said Groban—to which Colbert joked he wouldn’t sweat in the suit if he weren’t wearing the suit.
The whole cast gets a workout; Groban estimates they all climb about 50 flights of stairs throughout a single performance in the newly renovated Imperial Theatre. The star spoke about the immersive space. “You’re looking people dead in the eye. You’re singing into their faces,” he said. “The critic week was really interesting because they all had their notepads on their knees, and usually with a normal theatre they’re sitting out in the darkness so you don’t know they’re there, and you’d see really famous critics and they’re sitting on the stage and you’re just singing your guts and they’re [note-taking]. It’s very terrifying.”
Even though Groban dreamed of Broadway as a kid and studied musical theatre in college, he waited to make his Broadway debut.
“I wanted to wait for the right thing, something that would be challenging, something that would be different from what I normally do and a piece that I thought would be very new for Broadway, and this is definitely that piece,” he said.
Groban also spoke about his accordion, named Olga, and how Oprah Winfrey has him at her beck and call.