Ars Nova has announced the world premiere of Ars Nova 2011 Composer-in-Residence Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, this production will play a limited Off-Broadway engagement October 1 – November 10. Official Opening Night is set for Tuesday, October 16 at 7:00 PM.
Lovers are betrayed, society is scandalized and glasses are raised in Dave Malloy's electro-pop opera ripped from a slice of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Beautiful, young, and pure as the driven snow, Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await the return of her fiancé from the front lines. When she falls under the spell of the city's most charming rogue, it is up to the disillusioned Pierre, a family friend, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation.
Inspired by War and Peace, Dave Malloy adapted a section of the book into a libretto, which he set to his original score that merges Russian folk and classical music with indie rock, electronica, and organ-influenced cadences. This radical spin on a classic story transforms Ars Nova's theater into a Moscow dining club: with no "stage," the musicians, performers and audience sit together at tables piled high with dumplings and vodka as the action unfolds throughout the space.
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 features Phillipa Soo as "Natasha," Lucas Steele (The Kid – The New Group) as "Anatole," Dave Malloy as "Pierre," Brittain Ashford as "Sonya," Amber Gray (We Play for the Gods – Cherry Lane; All Hands – Hoi Polloi; Mission Drift – The TEAM) as "Helene," Amelia Workman (A World Apart – The Flea; Lear and The Shipment – dir. Young Jean Lee; She Like Girls – The Lark) as "Marya D.," Gelsey Bell (2011 live version of Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives – Performa 11) as "Princess Mary," Nick Choksi (Invasion! – The Play Company) as "Dolokhov," Blake DeLong (Tiny Dynamite – 59E59 Theaters) as "Bolkonsky/Andrey," and Paul Pinto (Perfect Lives – Performa 11) as "Balaga".
This production also features performances by Raymond Sicam (cello), Brent Arnold (cello) Sally Wall (oboe), Mark Dover (clarinet/bass clarinet), Pinky Weitzman (viola), and John Murchison (bass). Musical Director is Dave Malloy. Associate Musical Director is Paul Pinto.
The creative team includes Scenic Designer Mimi Lien (The Shaggs), Costume Designer Paloma Young (Peter and the Starcatcher), Lighting Designer Bradley King (Dead Fish), and Sound Designer Matthew Hubbs (Mission Drift).
Ars Nova awarded Dave Malloy a commission to create this project in addition to naming him 2011 Composer-in-Residence. The project has been developed through Ars Nova's Uncharted, Summer Artist Retreat and Next Step programs.
Dave Malloy has written music for seven full-length musicals, including Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage (2011 Edinburgh Herald Angel, 2008 Glickman Award, The New Yorker Best of 2009), Beardo, Sandwich, and Clown Bible ("Best Play of the Year," "Best Music," East Bay Express 2007). He is also one of the co-creator/performers of Three Pianos, a drunken romp through Schubert's Winterreise (Ontological-Hysteric Theater, New York Theater Workshop, American Repertory Theater; Special Citation OBIE Award), and the composer for the Brooklyn-based ensemble Banana Bag & Bodice. Other notable shows include (The 99-cent) Miss Saigon, a shoestring adaptation complete with a toy helicopter on a zip line, and pieces with Hoi Polloi, Witness Relocation, Clubbed Thumb, and Shotgun Players. Awards include a 2009 Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2009-11 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Theatre Designers. He was the 2011 composer-in-residence at Ars Nova, and has been a Guest Professor in devised music theater at Princeton and Vassar Universities. Upcoming: Black Wizard Blue Wizard at the Incubator Arts Project, with co-creator/performer Eliza Bent.