Electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will premiere at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company | Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Darlinghurst Theatre Company

Darlinghurst Theatre Company has announced the Australian premiere of Tony Award winning electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 written by composer and lyricist Dave Malloy. It is based on a scandalous slice of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Following a critically exalted premiere at Ars Nova in New York City, a subsequent Off-Broadway transfer, and an acclaimed run on Broadway, this exhilarating musical theatre production is set to make its mark by offering a high-energy and immersive experience. It will open on Wednesday 5th July at the Eternity Playhouse with the season running until Sunday 20th August.

Set in 1812, this astronomic musical follows the young and spontaneous Natasha who awaits the return of Andrey – her beloved fiancé on the front lines. One dizzying night at the Opera, in a city exploding with hedonism and opulent excess, Natasha falls passionately in love with the dashing, roguish, (and already married) Anatole. To solve her love conundrum, she turns to her lonely friend Pierre (in the middle of an existential crisis) who makes it his mission to extricate her from risk of ruin and in doing so, renew his own soul.

The electrifying cast of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will feature some of Australia’s most in-demand and quadruple threat performers who will all be announced in the coming weeks. The dazzling actor/musician ensemble of the highly anticipated musical theatre show will also be playing instruments live on stage. This unique concept of performance where the cast and the orchestra are synonymous will be paired with the production’s daring score, bold choreography, and immersive staging.

Brought to you by some of the lead artists who have worked on big hit musicals such as Hamilton and SIX, the creative team behind this Australian debut musical will be applauded in their expert ability to drive an experience set to utterly engross audiences. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will be directed by Dean Drieberg (Hamilton, Resident Director), with musical direction by Claire Healy (SIX, Musical Director) and choreography by Brendan Yeates (Hamilton, Resident Dance Supervisor).

It will draw on an eclectic mix of musical styles including folk, indie-rock, electro-pop and techno, making it one of the most unique and form-defying musicals ever seen on Broadway.

The direction of the musical will follow Dean Drieberg’s lead as the coveted creative brings his two decades of experience in the theatre industry, vision and skills to the Australian stage. While he is currently Resident Director of Hamilton Australian and New Zealand, Drieberg has also worked on Passing Strange (4x Green Room Awards Nominee) for Antipodes Theatre Company and assisted Jarrod Draper to create his sold out solo shows for Darlinghurst Theatre Company.

This previous connection to Darlinghurst Theatre Company will result in Drieberg taking over the venue to convey his own take on the previous Broadway show through “theatre that will feel more like a party or an event” with its 4D sensorial experience. He further adds, “We will be using the Eternity Playhouse in a way that hasn’t been seen before. From being voyeurs into characters’ private thoughts to being in the centre of a pulsating club, audiences can expect some surprises along the way – it will be a wild ride.”

Director Dean Drieberg also speaks on how he sees the production coming to life, “We are taking a distinctive direction for this brand new production, this is a liberating and exciting opportunity for creatives. The contrasting folk to techno styles within the score invite an innovative approach to the material. Whilst mining War & Peace, we are developing our own style of storytelling that references physical theatre, club culture and contemporary pop concerts. I am thrilled to work alongside a team of outstanding traditional and non-traditional theatre creatives and cast to bring this bold vision to life.”

After working in the theatre world across the globe, Claire Healy will bring her creative knowledge and expertise to the musical direction of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. She is currently the Musical Director for the Australian and New Zealand tour of SIX The Musical where she was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Musical Direction for her role. She has also completed international tours of her original solo cabaret shows in Edinburgh, Adelaide and Melbourne. Healy is no stranger to Australian debuts as she led the Musical Director role for the nation’s premiere of Well Behaved Women by Carmel Dean at the Hayes Theatre in 2021.

She is thrilled to create an electric mix of musical styles to complement Drieberg’s stage direction as she notes, “Comet pulls from so many musical styles, from folk, pop and rock to techno. You never sit too long in one place, and it propels the characters through the story, building an exciting, wild and unexpected world.”

On the complexity of actor/musician theatre productions from pre-production to the stage, Musical Director Claire Healy adds “Putting together a show like this is an epic, moving jigsaw puzzle. Not only do we need to put together a cast of excellent singers, movers and actors, but while doing this, we need to find a band of instruments that work well together to create the wild world of the show. And that’s before rehearsals have even started!”

To accompany the musical direction, Brendan Yeates will bring his 10 years of performance-based musical theatre work, and contemporary and commercial dance to lead the choreography for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. The latter half of his career has seen a calling to the other side of the footlights as a creative for stage productions with his most recent work as Resident Dance Supervisor of Hamilton.

On the vision for choreography, Brendan Yeates says “At the very core of Great Comet lives our movements, which draw our audience further into the world of our story. We have found inspiration from the period, from today and from the future. Every gesture, every nuance, every beat we create is underpinned by the vastness of the musical-narrative world we have been given as the foundations of the piece. The breadth of the musical styles within the play drives an immense scope and spectrum of storytelling through our bodies. We physicalise the moments that words cannot express and exaggerate the intensity of feelings that they create, without saying a thing.”

Yeates further adds, “The uniqueness that our production holds is about to bring new air to Australian theatre as it reshapes the mould for where performance based art can live. Great Comet inspires me to go out and live my life to the fullest; to love when it hurts; to heal and to move forward. I know that this form-defying piece will do the same for our audiences through an avant-gard retelling of Tolstoy’s classic piece of literature.”

Promising a visceral experience only live musical theatre can provide, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 will also see set design by multidisciplinary artist Tyler Hawkins. Aside from his considerable work as a performer, Tyler will bring his extensive experience working as a event stylist and set dresser across the film and fashion industries to this new production.

The reimagined musical will also be the first production under Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s newly appointed Executive Director Suzanne Pereira with Artistic Director Amylia Harris working alongside. As Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s first Sri Lankan Australian woman in her position, Pereira is thrilled to bring her beliefs in diversity and professional experience in the arts to the success of this new musical.

Executive Director Suzanne Pereira on the Australian premiere of the musical, “We are beyond excited to have assembled such an exciting team to bring Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 to Australia and to our home at the Eternity Playhouse. The scale of what we will be creating in our 200 seat theatre is like nothing we DTC has done before, and it signals our commitment to the ongoing development of ambitious, high-quality productions that are representative of our inclusive approach to theatre making, which we want to share with as many people as possible”.

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Darlinghurst Theatre Company at the Eternity Playhouse
39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010 Australia
Wednesday 5 July to Sunday 20 August
T: +61 2 8356 9987 |E: theatre@darlinghursttheatre.com