It worked its way up from a small theater way off Broadway. The New York Times reviewer liked it better than Hamilton. It earned the most Tony nominations this year.
And, with singer Josh Groban playing Pierre, who more or less represents Tolstoy’s point of view in War and Peace, it did good business.
But then Groban left the role.
So the producers announced that Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin (best known to moviegoers as Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride) would play Pierre / Tolstoy for three weeks to boost sales.
From the New York Times:
‘Great Comet’ Casting Shakeup
By MICHAEL PAULSON JULY 27, 2017
The Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin said Friday he was canceling a plan to join the cast of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” after an uproar on social media over the fact that the show brought in Mr. Patinkin, who is white, to replace an African-American actor, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan. …
“So sorry to have missed the racial optics of it,” the show’s creator, Dave Malloy said on Twitter Friday. …
Although producers periodically replace lesser-known performers with big-name actors in the hopes of selling more tickets, the move at “The Great Comet” prompted outrage among some black actors.
… And the production is among the most diverse on Broadway, with an African-American actress, Denée Benton, playing Natasha, and multiple other nonwhite actors in the company. (This month, Actors’ Equity gave the show an award for “extraordinary excellence in diversity on Broadway.”)
But some performers argued that the casting change reflects a larger problem in the entertainment business. The move “raises questions about how Black actors are valued and supported within Broadway,” declared the website BroadwayBlack.
‘Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812’ to Close on Broadway
By JOSHUA BARONE AUG. 8, 2017
“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” the Broadway musical that had more Tony Award nominations than any other last season, will close on Sept. 3 after struggling to overcome a recent casting controversy, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.
Once you go black, it’s hard these days to get permission to go back. Even with a War and Peace musical about Russia in 1812.