This year’s HS Play, the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, opens on October 17th and runs for four shows. Although it is labeled a pop opera, the score covers a multitude of styles from folk and blues to electronic dance and Broadway Ballard. The show was written by Dave Molloy, who based it on a 70-page segment of Leo Tolstoy’s iconic Russian novel War and Peace. It first staged off-Broadway before transferring to Broadway in 2017, where it was nominated for 13 Tony Awards.
What is War and Peace about?
As the Huff Post puts it, “War and Peace revolutionized the modern novel by packing in more human experience than any other work of fiction had ever attempted. In 361 cinematic chapters of a few pages each, he moves seamlessly back and forth between ballrooms and battlefields, marriages and massacres, private lives and public spectacles… If a human being has ever experienced it, War and Peace depicts it” and uses Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 as the backdrop.
Which parts of War and Peace does The Great Comet explore?
Tolstoy shows that people can either face their flaws and grow from this awareness or ignore them at their own peril. The main characters, Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Pierre Bezukhov, are old family friends who both struggle with flaws that drive them to extremes. Natasha is obsessed with the pursuit of romantic love, but unrealistic ideals blind her to reality. Pierre shuts himself off from the world to read about life rather than actually live it; he is only 26, yet everybody already calls him “old man”. The Great Comet picks up their stories just after Pierre has introduced Natasha to his great friend, Andrei, who quickly proposes. Andrei’s family thinks he is rushing into marriage and send him off to fight Napoleon’s troops. While waiting for Andrei’s return, Natasha and her cousin, Sonya, visit Natasha’s Godmother, Marya, in Moscow. Despite the war, high society still seems more concerned with amusements such as operas. Amidst this social whirl, Natasha’s beauty catches the attention of the notorious playboy, Anatole. Meanwhile, Pierre is now also living in Moscow, having just married Anatole’s sister, Helene. Helene only cares for Pierre’s money and title, which makes him miserable. In the past, Pierre and Natasha have always been able to advise each other wisely, but never quite find the time to reconnect until the Great Comet of 1812 is seen in the skies above Moscow and it is perhaps too late…..
Why The Great Comet at ISM?
When deciding upon a musical for the school’s 100th anniversary, we wanted to do something epic that celebrated ISM’s continual quest for innovation, challenge and, most importantly, community building. A musical based on parts of the great novel War and Peace seemed to fulfil the epic remit. Being the first school in the world granted full performing rights for the show certainly provided our talented students with a challenge. In terms of community building, the most appealing aspect of The Great Comet is the way it blends actors, singers, dancers, musicians, crew and audience together onstage to create an innovative immersive experience. We hope you will enjoy your journey to 1812 Moscow as much as we have!
- Show times: Thursday, October 17th and 18th at 6PM/ Saturday, October 19th at 2:30PM and 7PM. The show is a full length musical so should run at 2 hours, which includes a 15 minute intermission.
- Buying tickets: The play will use immersive, cafe-style seating, which limits the amount of seats available at each show to 200 and means there will be assigned seating. To ensure you get the date and seats that suit your family, buy tickets early. Tickets cost 200PHP for students and 300PHP for adults. All tickets need to be brought at the ISM Cashier’s Office so you can select your seat.
- Where to sit: This is an immersive theatre experience; some seats put you right amidst the action, whilst others let you sit back a little and take it all in with a more traditional seat. We’ll leave it to you to decide how much a part of the show you want to be! With this style of seating, it is highly difficult to seat latecomers and you will end up missing a big portion of the show if you are late. If someone in your family requires wheelchair access, please seek advice from Marsha Hillman or Denis Lagdameo in the Fine Arts office before buying so we can support you in selecting seats that allow your whole group to sit together.
- Audience advisory: Being based on a classic work of literature, the themes in the play suit a High School level of understanding and maturity. That said, the music and dance performances are exciting in places so even if the storyline is lost on them, Middle School students should enjoy the performance with parental supervision.