Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is a sung-through musical adaptation of a 70-page segment from Leo Tolstoy's 1869 novel War and Peace by Dave Malloy.
The score, written and orchestrated by Malloy, merges Russian folk and classical music with indie rock and EDM influences. The piece, described by Malloy as an "electropop opera," is sung-through, with just one line of spoken dialogue coming in Pierre and Natasha's only scene together. On stage, nearly all of the actors play musical instruments augmenting the show's orchestra. Pierre plays the accordion briefly, and plays large sections of the score on the orchestra's piano.
The musical originally ran at the Ars Nova in 2012. The Great Comet (as it's often called) premiered on Broadway in November 2016 at the Imperial Theatre, and closed in September 2017. Josh Groban played the role of Pierre in the Broadway production.
It is based on Part 8 of Tolstoy's novel, focusing on Natasha's romance with Anatole and Pierre's search for meaning in his life.
The attention-grabbing beautiful Natasha is engaged to Prince Andrey - she is an innocent girl from the country and he is a Prince, breaking many social norms of the time. While Andrey is off fighting in the war, Natasha travels to Moscow with her best friend, Sonya, to meet, and hopefully gain the approval of Andrey’s family, but they do not welcome her, and she leaves dejected. When she shows up later at the opera, all beauty and bare shoulders and arms, the playboy Anatole falls in love, and Natasha is overcome with passion for him - he’s so hot!
Meanwhile, Natasha's old friend, Pierre, one of Russia's richest men and married to the beautiful but unfaithful Hélène, laments the emptiness of his life and seeks a higher purpose.
Pierre and Dolokhov, who is Helene’s lover and Anatole’s friend, get into a drunken duel and Anatole begs Pierre’s wife Helene to invite Natasha to the ball. Later on at the ball, Natasha and Anatole dance. Just before she tells him that she is engaged, he kisses her and she falls in love.
Natasha breaks off her engagement so she can be with Anatole, and Anatole plans an elopement to be with her. Pierre finds out and angrily searches Moscow for Anatole - Anatole is already married! What is he thinking? An elopement would ruin him. Natasha finds out that Anatole is already married, and she poisons herself but doesn’t die.
The next day Andrey returns from war, confused about Natasha’s behavior and asks Pierre to explain. Pierre tells him about all the drama and implores Andrey to have compassion for Natasha, but Andrey is cold and tells Pierre that he will not be asking for Natasha’s hand in marriage again. Pierre relays the message to Natasha but leaves her with hope. As he leaves, the Great Comet of 1812 flies across the sky, leaving Pierre with a sense of enlightenment.