This project's funding goal was not reached on March 2, 2014.
This project's funding goal was not reached on March 2, 2014.
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.
Recorded theatre has been on the rise in recent years, but how do you capture the experience of a show that happens not in front of you, but all around you?
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 Gypsy Lovers of THE GREAT COMET
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.
Visit thegreatcometof1812.com for more information about the show, and download the soundtrack on Itunes.
The Great Comet has presented all of us with challenges and obstacles that we'd never imagined. We're proud to say we've been at it for over a year now, and have built a strong and quick-footed team, equipped to find a way around, over, or through any surprises we may face. Don't believe us? Check out this New York Times article on our rock star Stage Manager and House Manager doing just that: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/theater/in-natasha-pierre-house-managers-are-part-of-the-action.html
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.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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