THE LEADING MEN: Lucas Steele Proves His Mettle in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

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02 Aug 2013

Lucas Steele
Lucas Steele
Photo by Jason Riffe

Lucas Steele struts and swaggers with a magnetic "czar quality" as Prince Anatole in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. In Dave Malloy's Obie-winning "electro-pop opera" of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace," the blond, 5-foot-10-inch tenor is constantly racing and rushing throughout Kazino, the show's lush and plush supper club, in pursuit of wine, women and song.

In the opening, the cast sings, "Anatole is hot," and "as played by Lucas Steele, he is," raves Jesse Green of New York magazine. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly adds: "Steele is dashingly caddish as the lothario Anatole who seduces Natasha."

Though she's engaged to Prince Andrey, "Natasha falls for Anatole because he makes her feel like she's never loved anyone else before," said Phillipa Soo, who's gained acclaim in the title role. "And Lucas makes it so easy to play. He's so open, warm and wise. This is my first job out of school (Juilliard), and he's taken me under his wing. I look up to him so much."

In recent years, Steele has forged his reputation Off-Broadway, appearing in the New Group's The Kid and Prospect Theater Company's Myths and Hymns. In 2006, he made his Broadway debut in Roundabout's The Threepenny Opera, starring Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper. Besides singing and recording with the Broadway Boys, he has written his own dance-pop songs.

In Natasha, everyone sings "Anatole is hot," but how would you describe him?

Lucas Steele: Anatole is an absolute hedonist. He just cares about pursuing pleasure and lives in the moment. He doesn't think too much about the consequences and he's narcissistic to a degree. Physically, it's the most challenging role I've ever had. You have to make sure the entire room sees a scene as it's happening, so you learn to act as you're walking because you're constantly in transit. It's three hours of cardio each night. I've lost 8 pounds. I do over 150 stairs a show, and that doesn't include the ones backstage.

Lucas Steele in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.
photo by Chad Batka

And you're navigating around tables and interacting with theatregoers, yet Anatole always looks cool.

LS: Anatole looks cool until he falls down, which I've done. (Laughs.) And I have the best entrance I've ever had, or will ever have. Two doors swing open with a lot of light and fog behind them, and then I enter. And when I exit, I belt a ridiculously high note, a C sharp. Later on, I found out that Dave Malloy wrote that note as a joke and thought, "Nobody will ever be able to sing this!"

How did you come up with such a charismatic character?

LS: Our director, Rachel Chavkin, and I decided we wanted him to be almost like an alien from another dimension, which is what makes Natasha's head explode. She's never seen anyone like him. There's a lot of David Bowie undertones going on.

That would explain your blonde, spiked-up hairdo. Tell us about your Natasha. You and Phillipa have chemistry and such a passionate and romantic makeout scene. She said, "Lucas is a great kisser and has got very soft lips." What's she like?

LS: Phillipa is incredibly talented and so mature for her age (23). There's very little diva. There's an innocence to her, but she's also way smarter than Natasha, who's 15. And she never pushes. She's definitely one of my top five people I've worked with.


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