Caught on Camera
GENESIS OF A SONG: Tony Nominee Dave Malloy Breaks Down Writing The Great Comet’s “Natasha & Pierre”
The Tony-nominated composer-lyricist and book writer dissects the music in Josh Groban and Denée Benton’s emotional duet.
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, nominated for 12 Tony Awards, is widely known as a rowdy, invigorating—if unconventional—night at the theatre. Set in a Russian vodka den modeled after Moscow’s Café Margarita, Dave Malloy adapted an excerpt of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to zoom in on Natasha’s love story and Pierre’s search for meaning.
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“One of the things that I love about War and Peace, and that Great Comet also tries to do, is the celebration of all of life, which is both the really expansive, large, communal celebration of life, where everyone is dancing and drinking and shaking the eggs [we hand out],” says Malloy, “but also that it zeros in to these very intimate moments and what people deal with internally and psychologically, and these minute interactions between two human beings.”
“Natasha & Pierre,” at the end of Act 2, is one such moment played out by Tony-nominated stars Josh Groban and Denée Benton. “The ‘Pierre & Natasha’ duet, to me, is the heart of the whole show,” say Malloy. “It’s what everything is leading towards.”
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Malloy invited Playbill into his writing studio to deconstruct the music and lyrics of the song, from its initial three-note melody to the echoing of the harmonic patterns laid down throughout the entire preceding score. Watch the video above for his insight that breaks open the score to The Great Comet.
Tune in to the Tony Awards on CBS June 11. For continuing coverage leading up to Broadway’s biggest night, stay tuned to Playbill.com/TonyAwards, and for more information visit TonyAwards.com.
Learn more about the other Tony-nominated scores:
Watch: GENESIS OF A SONG: Tony-Nominated Songwriter Tim Minchin Breaks Down Groundhog Day’s ‘Hope’
Watch: GENESIS OF A SONG: How Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Wrote ‘Waving Through a Window’