Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 ends its Broadway run at the Imperial Theatre September 3. The musical, which received two 2017 Tony Awards, played 32 previews and will have played 336 regular performances at the time of its closing.
The musically eclectic take on a snippet of War and Peace opened November 14, 2016, following previews that began October 18.
The cast is currently led by the show's Tony-nominated creator Dave Malloy, who returned to the role of Pierre August 22, and Denée Benton, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Natasha.
The Great Comet earned 12 Tony nominations—the most of any production of the season. The musical ended up winning Outstanding Scenic Design (Mimi Lien) and Outstanding Lighting Design (Bradley King).
The unconventional production, which dazzled critics and audiences, completely transformed the Imperial into an opulent Russian salon that engulfs the audience. The unique seating chart can be viewed here.
Written by Malloy (Ghost Quartet, Preludes) and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the production marked the Broadway debut for internationally acclaimed vocalist Josh Groban, who received a Tony nomination for his work in the role of Pierre. Groban departed the cast July 2, and following an interim stint from Malloy, Hamilton alum Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan assumed the role.
On July 26, Great Comet producers announced that Patinkin would play a three-week run in the production through September 3. The announcement meant that Onaodowan would leave the production earlier than expected.
The news caused uproar on social media, with theatregoers and members of the Broadway community expressing outrage that an African American actor was asked to step aside for a white actor.
“My understanding of the show’s request that I step into the show is not as it has been portrayed and I would never accept a role knowing it would harm another actor,” Patinkin said. “I hear what members of the community have said and I agree with them. I am a huge fan of Oak and I will, therefore, not be appearing in the show.”
Malloy tweeted that the show’s box office advance after August 15 were “catastrophically low,” and that the show would have closed without the addition of a major star to draw audiences.
The musical had previously brought in recording artist Ingrid Michaelson to play Sonya to boost sales for a limited engagement. Original cast member Brittain Ashford returned to the role August 15.
The show’s producers released a statement in response to the controversy. It reads in part: “We had the wrong impression of how Oak felt about the casting announcement and how it would be received by members of the theater community, which we appreciate is deeply invested in the success of actors of color—as are we—and to whom we are grateful for bringing this to our attention. We regret our mistake deeply, and wish to express our apologies to everyone who felt hurt and betrayed by these actions.”
The Great Comet was commissioned and developed at Ars Nova in NYC, where it had its world premiere in fall 2012 and was soon after transferred to a custom-built venue in the Meatpacking District for the summer of 2013. The show became a hit, and the entire venue was transferred to the theatre district, where it continued its run into the spring of 2014. The musical subsequently played a limited engagement at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, where its innovative design was expanded to bring the show’s signature staging to a traditional proscenium-style theatre.
Malloy's Ghost Quartet will launch New York Theatre Workshop's inaugural Next Door at NYTW season at the theatre company's newly renovated black box space. Among the cast are Ashford and Great Comet castmate Gelsey Bell.