The Department of Performing and Visual Arts and the Platteville Summer Arts Festival present the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.” From the award-winning composer Dave Malloy comes an electropop opera based on a scandalous slice of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel “War and Peace.” Following a critically-acclaimed premiere at Ars Nova in New York City, a subsequent Off-Broadway transfer and an acclaimed run on Broadway, this award-winning musical expands the possibilities for the genre with its daring score and bold storytelling. The production runs July 28, 29, Aug. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and July 30 and Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Young Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow while her fiance, Andrey, fights in the war. When she falls under the spell of the handsome Anatole, Pierre’s brother-in-law, her reputation within society is ruined and it is up to Pierre, a family friend in the middle of an existential crisis, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation. According to Ann Dillon Farrelly, UW-Platteville professor of theatre and director of the production, “This is one of the more unusual and intriguing musicals I have ever encountered. I fell in love with it when I saw it on Broadway in 2017, and I have been hoping to bring it to the Platteville stage ever since. I think people will be pleasantly surprised to find that an electro-pop opera based on part 8 of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ is such an intoxicating ride.”
Farrelly is joined on the production team by other UW-Platteville theatre faculty and staff with choreography by Connie SaLoutos Furlan, costume design by Sarah Strange, lighting design by Josh Lawyer and technical direction by Jeffrey Strange, along with Scott Steder as a production assistant and Rob Shepherd as the rehearsal accompanist. The production staff also includes UW-Platteville alumni Abigail Wagner (scenic designer), Lizzie Haller (music director), Christopher Kott (sound designer), Meghan Weber (costume production assistant), Rosanna Rucinski (production assistant), and Austin Pettlon (production assistant). Current UW-Platteville students on the staff include Isabelle Emerson (stage manager/production assistant), Jamie Wodack (production assistant), Kyra Liske (costume production assistant), Emma Larson (costume production assistant), Anna Fassbinder (hair/makeup, wardrobe), and Sydney Byas (marketing intern). The cast is a blend of UW-Platteville students, staff and alumni as well as members of the Platteville and surrounding communities. The cast includes John Dobbratz as Pierre, Amanda Zasada as Natasha, Katie Dionne as Sonya, Logan Eigenberger as Anatole, Stephanie Klein as Marya, Blair Kott as Helene, Tyler Tollefson as Dolokhov, Matt Tompkins as Prince Bolkonsky/Ensemble, Alannah Walker as Mary/Ensemble, Jackson Hemming as Balaga/Ensemble, Shane Ceniza as Andrey/Ensemble and Elyse Harvancik, Nathan Greve, Emma Wagner, Corbin Schroeder and Susan Tonn as Ensemble. While some of the actors will play their own instruments, the musical also includes a small pit of musicians also made up of UW-Platteville students, staff, alumni and community members. Haller will lead the pit on keyboard and be joined by Jolene Werlein on clarinet, James Werlein on guitar, Danielle Dillon on bass, Coda Frieburger on English horn/oboe, Rebecca Gottlieb on cello, Ann Duchow on viola and Jordan Larson-Sell on percussion.
“We have the best team assembled to tackle this challenging and exciting production. The work of these artists is not to be missed. I hope you will join us for this musical, even if you are unfamiliar with it. I think you, like me, will be pleasantly and thrillingly surprised at the thoroughly entertaining, funny, thoughtful and beautiful story that unfolds on the stage,” said Farrelly. “And, no, you don’t have to have read ‘War and Peace’ to enjoy it.”
Tickets for “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812” are $25 for general admission, $18 for students and children under 18 (price includes $2 box office fee). The Platteville Summer Arts Festival also offers a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. For tickets, visit tickets.uwplatt.edu or call the University Box Office at 608-342-1298. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. Due to some of the adult subject matter, the production is not recommended for young children. Parental discretion is advised.