×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

What’s Next for ‘Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812’

On Broadway, “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” burned brightly and flared out fast — but producers are hoping a string of international productions keep the title in orbit.

A new production in Tokyo, opening in January 2019, is just the first sighting of “Great Comet” outside of New York. At around the same time, a sit-down run (a stop of two weeks or more) is in the works in a U.S. city, with London plans due to be firmed up soon. A Korean incarnation looks likely as well, and interest is high in China and the Philippines.

This global expansion offer investors in the original production a chance to recoup some money after the flickering of the immersive, critically lauded, convention-defying Broadway production, which did big business with Josh Groban in one of the title roles but became a tougher sell without a headline star. A fumbled casting gambit— involving Mandy Patinkin, Okieriete Onaodowan and the optics of replacing a young African-American actor with an older white one — hastened a closing that came before the production could recoup more than 20% of its $12 million-plus capitalization.

For the biggest Broadway and West End hits, international markets are the real moneymakers, opening up multiple revenue streams that have added up to billions of dollars for shows like “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Wicked.” But even for titles that aren’t unequivocal hits, stagings around the world can help producers make back some money — albeit more slowly.

In Tokyo, Japanese production company Toho and Nippon Broadcasting have partnered on a new, Japanese-language staging of “Great Comet” by director Kaori Kobayashi and starring Yoshio Inoue, a bona fide stage star in Japan. The plan, according to Simone Genatt of Broadway Asia (the licensing agent of “Great Comet” in the east), is to run the show at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater, a playhouse of less than 850 seats, for 30 performances in a proscenium staging with immersive elements. If it’s successful, it’ll be one of the musicals that Toho brings back annually, as has become tradition with titles like “Les Misérables.” (A subsequent run in Osaka is also a possibility.)

Genatt added that interest in “Great Comet” is high, in large part because the show can run in non-traditional spaces (as it did in its Off Broadway incarnation, in a tent with full food service) — a valuable commodity in Asian markets where Western-style venues appropriate for large-scale musical theater aren’t plentiful. The potential Korean outing (in a Korean-langue translation), aiming for late 2019, is likely to be staged in more of a Russian nightclub setting.

As for London, a plan should be in place by later this spring, according to Howard Kagan, the lead commercial producer of “Great Comet.” If the show doesn’t end up on the West End, it’ll aim for a non-traditional space. By reuniting the original designers, the London staging will look a bit more like the Broadway production than the Tokyo incarnation, but it’ll still be tailored to fit the venue.

In the U.S., most Broadway musicals that make a serious run at the Tony Awards (“Great Comet” was nominated for 12, and won two) would have announced a national tour by now. “Great Comet,” however, is planning something that will look more like a series of sit-down runs in cities around the country, with the first one likely to start early next year.

Among all these versions of the show, it’ll vary how much each individual production looks like the Broadway staging, given the variables in creative teams and venue. “It’ll never really be an exact replica,” Kagan said, “because it changes every time it moves to a new piece of real estate.”

More Legit

  • CAROL CHANNING HERSCHFELD. Actress Carol Channing

    Remembering Carol Channing: A Master of Channeling the Power of Personality

    There was only one Carol Channing, and her outsize personality was a source of delight to many fans — and imitators. Gerard Alessandrini’s stage spoof “Forbidden Broadway” had many incarnations over the years, including the 1994 edition when an audience member was selected every evening to come onstage and impersonate Carol Channing with the cast. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Celebrities Remembering Carol Channing

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters are among the slew of celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute to late singer, comedienne and actress Carol Channing. Known for her starring roles in Broadway’s “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the legend of the stage and screen died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, [...]

  • What the Constitution Means to Me

    Listen: How Things Got Scary in 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    For a decade, writer-performer Heidi Schreck had wanted to write a play inspired by her experiences as a teen debater. But over the years the show started to develop into something both urgently political and deeply personal — and things got scary. In the Broadway-bound “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Schreck reimagines her speech-and-debate [...]

  • Carol Channing Dead

    Carol Channing, Star of Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Dies at 97

    Larger-than-life musical stage personality Carol Channing, who immortalized the characters of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!,” has died. She was 97. Channing died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Her publicist B. Harlan Boll confirmed the news. He wrote, “It is with [...]

  • 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    'What the Constitution Means to Me' Transfers to Broadway

    “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a buzzy Off-Broadway production that counts Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem among its fans, is making the move uptown. The play will come to Broadway this spring for a 12-week limited run at the Helen Hayes Theater. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is one part civics lesson, one [...]

  • Choir Boy review

    Broadway Review: 'Choir Boy'

    Honestly, I was afraid that “Choir Boy” — the sweetly exuberant account of a gifted prep school boy’s coming of age, written by “Moonlight” Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney — would be swallowed up in a Broadway house, after winning us over in an Off Broadway staging in 2013.  But aside from the odd set [...]

  • Jason Robert Brown

    Listen: How Ariana Grande Got Jason Robert Brown to Madison Square Garden

    Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown never expected to find himself performing onstage at Madison Square Garden. But he did — thanks to his pal Ariana Grande. Brown met Grande before she was a superstar, when she was in the 2008 Broadway cast of his teen musical “13.” The two have kept in touch ever since [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content