'Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812' Comes to the Billboard on Broadway Video Series

Chad Batka 
Josh Groban and the cast of "Natasha, Pierre & THE GREAT COMET of 1812."

They’re most often seen these days dancing and singing up and down the ramps and stairways of the reconfigured Imperial Theater, but the cast and creator of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 stopped by the Billboard on Broadway Tonys video series for a more intimate performance of three songs from their highly unorthodox new musical.

The Comet (as it's known in abbreviated form) is based on a small chunk of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and though traditional Russian musical influences make their way into composer Dave Malloy’s score, the rollicking songs also blend electro-pop, R & B, folk and other contemporary sounds. “The genres seem to cover a lot of different bases,” says Brittain Ashford, who plays Sonya, Natasha’s good-hearted cousin. “There’s a little something for everyone.” “It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever heard,” adds Lucas Steele, who plays the caddish Anatole.

The show has evolved through several stage incarnations, the latest of which is the current Broadway production starring Josh Groban as the titular Pierre. In earlier versions, Malloy — who wrote the show's music, lyrics, orchestrations and book — also played Pierre (he will step into the role for ten performances on Broadway, starting May 4), and here he sings his character’s introductory song “Pierre." The lyrics introduce Pierre as “a warm-hearted Russian of the old school” who is “just one of a hundred sad old men living out their final days in Moscow” — and, more amusingly, “he is charming, he has no sex."

Ashford goes on to perform her big Act 2 solo “Sonya Alone,” a mournful tune Malloy wrote specifically for her, which her character sings before Natasha “is about to make a bad decision” regarding running way with Anatole. Steele leads the assembled cast members in “Letters” (“a song about letters!” as Malloy says), in which Anatole reads a dramatic love letter he’s sent Natasha.

Watch as Malloy, Ashford and Steele perform alongside Comet cast members Alex Gibson, Andrew Mayer, Ashley Perez-Flanagan, and Pearl Rhein.

The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards will air live from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT). The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. The nominations for the 2017 Tony Awards will be announced live on May 2, 2017, from New York City. For more information, visit TonyAwards.com and Facebook.com/TheTonyAwards and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.