Immersive Broadway musical 'The Great Comet' makes Asian debut in Shanghai
The immersive Broadway musical "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812" will be making its Asian debut at the New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center, staging 51 performances from January 13 to March 3.
With music, lyrics and book by Dave Malloy, the musical is adapted from a 70-page segment from Leo Tolstoy's 1869 epic novel "War and Peace," focusing on Natasha's romance with Anatole, and Pierre's search for meaning in his life.
Its music score merges Russian folk, classical music, indie rock and EDM influences.
Jointly presented by the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai West Bund Theater and Eternity Culture, the musical is directed and choreographed by Chloe Treat. Music supervisor Or Matias has already spent two weeks in Shanghai with the cast for music training.
Malloy describes "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812" as a "sung-through musical," as the whole performance and plot is pushed forward by songs, unlike other musicals where dialogues play an important part.
"To me, it's a show form that bridges musical and opera," Matias explained.
The musical made its off-Broadway debut in 2012, and premiered on Broadway in 2016. It was nominated for 12 awards at the 2017 Tony Awards, and won two of them.
"When I saw the show for the first time seven years ago, I knew I had to do it," said Cooper Grodin, who plays the role of Pierre.
The cast consists 28 international performers who were recruited from auditions held in both Shanghai and New York. Chinese musical singer Chen Yuting plays the role of Sonya, while Zhai Lishuotian plays the two roles of Andrey and Old Prince Bolkonsky.
Every character has a theme song. The opening song "Prologue" introduces the characters in a "brainwashing" way with repeated lines and melody.
The Shanghai shows feature new costume design highlighting fashion and modernity.
Award-winning South Korean stage designer Pilyoung Oh removed the 400 front-row seats in the theater, breaking the limitations of the framed stage, turning the theater into an immersive scene of Russian court dances with four ring-shape audience pools becoming part of the stage.
"As a mature stage art genre with highly commercialized operating mechanisms, musicals have been recognized and welcomed by Chinese audiences and the market," said Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of the Shanghai Grand Theater.
The Grand Theater introduced "Les Misérables" to Shanghai in 2002, which became the first Western classic musical to be staged in mainland China.
"Over the past two decades, the Grand Theater also transformed its role from an initial icebreaker to a cultivator, promoter and creator. Now we are taking 'The Great Comet' as an opportunity to explore international musical operations and attract investors to join in," she said.
Dates: December 29 - November 1
Tickets: 180-1080 yuan
Venue: The Nine Trees Future Art Center 九棵树未来艺术中心
Address: 99 Shuhuan Rd 树桓路99号
Dates: January 13 - March 3
Tickets: 80-1880 yuan
Venue: New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center 前滩31演艺中心
Address: 777 W Gaoqing Rd 高青西路777号