The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

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The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 | Review

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, or the Great Comet as it’s commonly referred, is nothing short of overwhelming. The musical, based on a 70-page snippet of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, follows naive and ambitious Natasha Rostova’s new life in Moscow as she awaits the return of her soldier fiance, Prince Andrei. Natasha is engulfed in scandal as she falls in love with impulsive Anatole, a married man whose marriage he keeps hidden from all. 

From the characters, story and music, the show is dazzlingly extravagant. All that flare creates an exciting watching experience that entrances viewers. But, the Great Comet can be chaotic and confusing if you aren’t paying close attention. 

In the first four minutes of the show, they manage to introduce 10 different characters and their distinct personalities. But that is only the beginning of the controlled chaos that is the Great Comet.

The Great Comet, in general, is split into two types of characters: the impulsive and the reasonable. What makes it interesting is that these two character types are dispersed between protagonist and antagonist.  

As Natasha adapts to Moscow, she is surrounded by temptation. And although she holds her ground at first, she gives in multiple times throughout the show. These decisions are often made without thorough thought. It is, in many ways, Natasha’s fatal flaw and the reason she is impossible to hate. Her naivete makes her relatable to audiences.

Although he is a title name, Pierre is almost entirely irrelevant to the story. He pops up every now and then to sing about how sad his life or the lives of his friends are, but otherwise, he has no real impact. Pierre doesn’t get his purpose until Act II when he interacts with Natasha, but, even then, he isn’t a key element to the plot. His real purpose in the story is to create audience sympathy. He gives almost every character humanity when he interacts and speaks of them. 

Despite only being based on 70 short pages of an over 1,000-page book, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 has a lively plot. The pacing of the show is fantastic, and the plot itself is fairly tame when compared with other elements. 

It’s a classic story of passion and love. Natasha is torn between her fiance, Andrei, and the mysterious Anatole. As all the characters try to knock sense into Natasha, she adamantly ignores them. The push and pull of passion and practicality are common themes throughout the show. Follow your heart or follow your head. 

The story itself is enticing. Natasha, despite her bad choices, is an entirely lovable character, and I found myself continuously rooting for her throughout the story. 

However, the musical is confusing. With an abundance of characters and a thousand things happening at once, it’s hard to follow. The side characters tend to blend together, and it becomes hard to remember what the significance of each person is. 

Rather ingenious, the Great Comet has an excuse for this flaw: they tell you at the very beginning that it’s confusing. In the Prologue, the chorus sings to the audience that they will have to pay close attention or else.

 “Gonna have to study up a little bit if you want to keep with the plot. ‘Cause it’s a complicated Russian novel. Everyone’s got nine different names, so look it up in your program. We appreciate it; thanks a lot,” they sing.

The best part of the show is the music. The Great Comet is a sung-through musical with only one spoken line throughout the entirety of the show. Songs like No One Else, Dust and Ashes, Letters, along with titles songs Natasha & Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, are must-listens from the soundtrack. 

The soundtrack itself has an even balance between ballads and upbeat songs creating a fun listening experience. However, many of the less principal songs blend together and have little variety between them. 

The music is very similar to that of Hadestown. But the show’s overall vibe and music can be compared to  these two sung through musicals: Les Miserable or Miss Saigon. In general, the music does a good job of reflecting the show, and the soundtrack on its own is a great standalone listen.

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is a must-watch for all the theater lovers out there. But for those who are adamant haters of the musical theater world, this isn’t a show that will change your mind. It’s lively and terribly tragic, but all in all, an immersive watching experience.

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About the Contributor
Anna Gatz, Feature 1 Editor and Broadcaster