Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is dinner theater. Every ticket includes a Russian meal in addition to the performance (tickets run $125, $175 and $237.50). But to think of composer/librettist Dave Malloy’s sophisticated electro pop opera in suburban terms is to do it a serious injustice. This is the most breathtaking, romantic, intellectually engaging, epically conceived, imaginatively staged, compellingly performed and beautifully sung show in town this summer, and a must-see. Malloy has dramatized portions of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, reducing but not cheapening hundreds of pages of character study and incident into two hours and 40 minutes of spellbinding theater. Naïve Natasha, unhappy Pierre (played by Malloy), rakish Anatole, conniving Hélène, elusive Andrei, loyal Sonya: They’re all here, given life by a top-notch cast under Rachel Chavkin’s inspired direction. The plot? Aristocratic Natasha loves Andrei but falls in lust with Anatole and suffers the consequences. Soap opera? Perhaps, but set against an extraordinary backdrop: At play’s end, Napoleon is about to enter Moscow.
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is performed at Kazino, a luxe pop-up space under the High Line that conjures up a Moscow supper club. The plush red velvet walls are hung, academy-style, with landscapes and portraits, such as a full-length Napoleon dead center. The action takes place all around the audience, on a platform that snakes throughout the room and on the floor in between tables. Don’t be surprised if Natasha pulls up a stool and sits down beside you for an intimate scene. Phillipa Soo, who plays Natasha, never breaks character. Nor does anyone else in the talented ensemble. Dinner is served approximately 45 minutes before curtain and is much more than adequate, consisting of a shot of infused vodka, cold borscht, poached salmon and chicken, beef carpaccio, couscous, ratatouille, black bread and potato pierogi (the latter served by the cast with a flourish). Almond cookies arrive during intermission. Drinks, from an extensive vodka, cocktail and wine menu, cost extra. The best way to go? A carafe of Stoli with two mixers for $100. You’ll sail through the show.
A word to the wise: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is currently scheduled to run through Sept. 1.
» Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Kazino, W. 13th St., at Washington St., www.thegreatcometof1812.com