The Great Comet or Not?

THE GREAT COMET a Valentine’s Day inspired Review

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When I go to the theater I am always prepared to fall in love with the show. I am an easy mark – eyes wide and heart open ready to be smitten by a stand out solo or an eye catching and ear pleasing song and dance number. Such is the case when I sat in my seat for my date last night with Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812. Five hours prior the theater group had processed the sad news as communicated by Telecharge: we had been jilted by our leading man Josh Groban. But we had recovered from this bit of unfortunate news as my husband said “Who’s Josh Groban?” and were collectively ready to throw roses at the feet of his understudy.

Upon entering the theater it was immediately apparent that there was nothing ordinary about this date night venue. The theater had been transformed into what amounted to a Russian cabaret awash in the color red with twinkly lights, café tables for our drinks, multiple levels, stairs and catwalks throughout. There were people – ordinary people – sitting in various parts of the stage – like a jealous lover I immediately coveted those seats. How do I get to sit there? Why was I not sitting there?

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The opening prologue was captivating. The performers introduced themselves in song repeating their names and their central character stereotype over and over. It was like speed dating the cast and I laughed thinking wouldn’t be nice if in life we could cut to the chase summing up our personality in one word? Hi I’m Linda. I’m the fun one. What would be the word that summarizes you?

This introduction, while helpful, still left me a bit bewildered given the large cast of characters. I would recommend arriving to the theater earlier and getting cozy with the playbill that includes a very helpful synopsis and family tree (less helpful when read the next morning).

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And bewildered I remained. Don’t get me wrong. I was entertained. I was happy to be there. The lead Natasha was winsome and the cast of players engaging. Loved seeing the performers up close on the catwalk and it was great fun to feel part of the action (cue the egg maracas they handed us).

The second act was better then the first act (loved Sonya’s solo) but still the show left me underwhelmed. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and as the husband mentioned the storyline was disjointed. Maybe it was because Josh Groban was not there? Reviewers have mentioned that this show has been rather polarizing. People love it or hate it. That said, it was an experience and, for that reason alone, worth experiencing and cause I am curious I may have to go back, sit on the stage and see it again with Mr. Groban.

Sidebar: There has been much chatter about Josh Groban taking on this role. From afar it seemed kind of like a hokey Broadway move to fill seats. But his is not a large part and I applaud him taking this role on and I understand his voice is amazing. Him being in the show was one of the motives for buying a ticket but not the central motive. That said, I was disappointed at 2pm on the day of the show to learn he would not be there to sing for us. Telecharge sent a very detailed message with reasonable plan B’s. We could reschedule on the spot OR attend through intermission and if we were not happy with the show get our tickets scanned to receive vouchers for another performance. Bravo Telecharge. Must applaud their customer service in general. Did you know that if you can’t go on the date you selected you can call them and they will switch it for you? And the people on the other end of the line are so nice and helpful! I am continually surprised by this but must give credit where credit is due. And so it is thus that I dedicate the standing ovation I did not give last night at the show to you: Telecharge. Applause! Applause!

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