It was Fall 2012 when Ars Nova, one of NYC's most respected incubators and venues for musicians and theatre artists, premiered a show with an unlikely premise: an electropop opera based on a 70 page slice of Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace, staged in a Russian supper club (replete with vodka and pierogies on every table) so that the action could play out not on a stage, but amongst the audience. It sounded crazy; but sometimes something crazy is just what it takes to make a groundbreaking piece of theatre. This was the case for Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.
The show opened to rave reviews and landed on the Top Ten lists of The New York Times, The New York Post, and Time Out New York.
Wait - it gets better.
Tony Award winning producers Howard & Janet Kagan fell in love with The Great Comet and became determined to give the show a longer life in New York. After exploring options ranging from traditional theaters to raw spaces, they drew up a plan to construct a pop-up supper club on an empty lot in the heart of the Meatpacking District. Amazingly, it worked, and the show re-opened in the Summer of 2013 in a space four times the size of it's original theatre, serving dinner and drinks to guests.
The show became a sensation, drawing dedicated theatergoers and downtown tastemakers alike. A show based on one of the most notoriously formidable pieces of literature proved to be one of the most accessible and entertaining pieces of theatre in recent memory, as New Yorkers and tourists of all shapes and sizes filled the seats and partied the night away with Tolstoy's young lovers.
But The Great Comet wasn't done yet. When summer came to an end, the show announced a move to another space in Midtown Manhattan, smack dab in the middle of the Theater District. The show will continue to play at 45th Street between Times Square and 8th Avenue through March 2nd.
The Great Comet has been
showered with rave reviews and a host of accolades, including the 2013 Richard
Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, a Special Citation from the OBIE
Awards, five Drama Desk Award Nominations (Outstanding New Musical, Outstanding
Music, Outstanding Lyrics, Outstanding Direction of a Musical, Outstanding
Costume Design), two Drama League Award nominations (Distinguished Production
of a Musical, Distinguished Performance – Phillipa Soo), a Henry Hewes Design
Award (for scenic design by Mimi Lien), and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for
Outstanding New Musical.
The original cast recording of The Great Comet has been recorded and released by Ghostlight Records. The album was produced by Dean
Sharenow, with Kurt Deutsch and Howard & Janet Kagan serving
as Executive Producers. The album is available through iTunes and in stores.
And now, The Great Comet is ready to delve further into uncharted territory.
We have the answer, and believe we can give audiences - and this singular show - a film that resembles no recorded theater to date.
Part HD live recording of the show, part concert film, part feature film being filmed on location, part music video this will be "cinema like no other." The film will be led by independent director Abe Sylvia (Dirty Girl, "Nurse Jackie"). Abe aims to create a film that doesn't just capture a live performance, but recreates the experience that has kept people coming back to The Great Comet since 2012.
This project will allow a broader audience to experience this exciting new form of immersive theater. Because the show is so groundbreaking, it cannot be funded in a traditional studio format. After a gala world premiere in New York City for the film's funders, producers, cast, creative team, and crew, the film will be made available for distribution as a two hour independent film.
Because the producers behind the theatrical version of The Great Comet are able to provide and cover costs for the physical elements of the existing production (like scenery, costumes, props, and venue fees), we'll be able to make a high-caliber feature film, not to mention an ambitious adaptation of an unusual piece, for significantly less than a version built from scratch.
Therefore, the total budget for the film will be less than $1 million. This $250,000 kickstarter campaign will fund the shooting of the film in March and creation of a short sizzle highlights video which our backers will receive. This sizzle video will also be used to raise the remaining funds for post production and to arrange distribution. The post production editing of the approximately two hour feature film will be funded from a combination of private investors, tax credits and the achievement of our stretch goal of $500,000 on Kickstarter. We plan for the movie to be edited and ready for screening by early summer.
We've been thrilled to watch people laugh, sing, and cry with the cast of The Great Comet for the past year and a half. We hope you'll join us in bringing this special experience to an even wider group of revelers, and continuing to push the boundaries of what a theatrical experience can be.
The Great Comet is the critically acclaimed, groundbreaking original electro-pop opera celebrated for its immersive staging written by Dave Malloy and directed by Rachel Chavkin. The Great Comet was called "THEATER LIKE NO OTHER" by Time Out New York and "A HEAVEN-SENT FIREBALL" by The New York Times.
The show is based on a scandalous slice of the book War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It was on the Top Ten lists of best theater of 2012/2013 for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Time Out New York, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast , and The New York Post.
The action of the show does not take place in a theater, but in an opulent Russian supper club created especially for the show. The entire audience is part of the action of the show, sitting at tables and banquettes, instead of sitting in rows of seats facing a stage as in most traditional theater. The staging redefines the relationship between performers and artists, and making the theatrical experience more of an event than a passive experience. Add to that a "first-rate, rock fueled score, perfectly matched to story and setting" (Time Magazine), and the overall result is a show has attracted a vibrant, new, younger audience at a time when live theater is looking for new ways to compete with digital entertainment.
These challenges are part of what makes live theatre so exciting, so we don't fear them - we await them with open arms! That said, here are the two key challenges we foresee following the successful funding of the project:
1) CAPTURING THE IMMERSIVE, 360 DEGREE EXPERIENCE OF SEEING THE GREAT COMET LIVE IN A FILM
This is the key to the whole project. How can we make sure that film audiences, like the live audiences at the show, are not simple spectators, removed from the action? Because The Great Comet's theater producers own and are providing the venue and physical elements of the production, we'll be able to shoot the film over several days, allowing us to choreograph our camera-work to match up with the dynamic nature and movement of the show, as opposed to capturing the show from static points of view. We'll be meticulously planning how to shoot every moment of the show, but we'll be equally prepared to make changes on the spot.
2) BRINGING THE GREAT COMET TO A WIDER AUDIENCE
As the distribution model for recorded media continues to evolve, so must we. We are filming without any distribution or airings confirmed, which will allow us the flexibility to explore the best models for getting the film distributed widely post-production. This is a completely unique film, so we'll be looking into every option, including festivals and traditional film distributors, premium television, and digital distribution.
We would love to send you a limited edition t-shirt with The Great Comet logo, created especially for the cast, crew, and funders of the film, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
As a big fan of The Great Comet, we would like to send you a copy of the script autographed by creator Dave Malloy, plus a limited edition t-shirt and a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
We would love to send you a love letter. Make that a handwritten love letter in the 1812 Russian style of the letters used in the show, on parchment, with a wax seal, addressed to whomever you choose. Suitable for framing. Also, a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! - The first 200 people to donate $100 or more will receive one complimentary ticket to a performance of The Great Comet in NYC before March 2, 2014, PLUS a hand-written love letter in the 1812 Russian style of the letters used in the show. Also, a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet. THIS OFFER EXPIRES FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH AT 11:59PM.
If you have a brand new t-shirt, don't get caught out in the rain! Get a sleek GREAT COMET umbrella and our limited edition t-shirt, PLUS an autographed copy of our original cast recording and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
You will literally be a part of the film when we give you a special thanks in the end credits of the film. The cast and crew will also thank you by autographing a full-size print of the poster! You will also receive our special limited edition t-shirt and an autographed copy of the cast recording, as well as a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the film.
Be our special guest and attend an exclusive advance screening of the film in NYC with members of the cast, creative team, and crew and of course we would want you to have a limited edition t-shirt to wear to the screening! Also, a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Want to experience the joys of moviemaking up close and personal? Attend one full day of shooting of the movie on set in NYC! Also, of course our limited edition t-shirt so we know to treat you extra special on set. You will also receive a special thanks in the credits, an autographed poster, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Want to be a movie star? Or at least be one for the day? Attend one full day of shooting and appear as an extra in the movie, in costume and makeup, as part of our on-camera audience. Also, you will receive a special thanks in the credits, an autographed poster, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Attend a very special lunch in NYC with creator Dave Malloy, director Rachel Chavkin, film director Abe Sylvia, producers Howard and Janet Kagan, and Natasha and Pierre themselves, at which the team will discuss the process of making this unique film adaptation. You will also receive a special thanks in the credits, an autographed poster, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Tickets for two people to attend a gala black tie premiere for the movie held in NYC along with the after party. You will also receive a special thanks in the credits, an autographed poster, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Looking to get that opulent supper club look in your home? Get one of The Great Comet's signature chandeliers for your home PLUS attend one full day of shooting and appear (with a friend) as an extra in the movie, in costume and makeup, as part of our on-camera audience. Includes lunch with the cast, creative team and crew. Also, you will receive a special thanks in the credits, an autographed poster, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Have you ever wanted to actually be part of making a film? Spend a full day working with the film's director and editor in the editing room. You can have lunch with the film's producers and discuss how great films are also made in the editing. In addition, you will also receive a VERY special thanks in the credits, an autographed posted, and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Now you are officially a producer! You will receive an Associate Producer title for the film, appearing in the credits. Also, an autographed poster and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
You can become a Broadway producer! Your support will allow you the chance of a lifetime with a one week mentorship for you or a friend, shadowing Howard & Janet Kagan, the two time Tony award winning producers of The Great Comet, while they work on their shows. You will attend an audition, reading or Broadway show performance with the Kagans. This can include feedback and notes on your original script for a play or musical. Also, an autographed poster and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
Hoping to pen your own Great Comet? Have a table read of your original play or musical organized and hosted by Howard and Janet Kagan (two time Tony Award winning producers) to showcase your work with performers and at least two other producers in attendance. Also, an autographed poster and a digital download of a short sizzle reel from the filming of The Great Comet.
A private screening of The Great Comet in the major US city of your choosing! Be the host of a screening of the film for up to 50 people (invited by you) with a talkback with creator Dave Malloy, director Rachel Chavkin, film director Abe Sylvia, producers Howard and Janet Kagan, and cast members in attendance.