Josh Groban tweeted the good news yesterday: Originally scheduled to star as Pierre in the wonderful new Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 through April 23, 2017, the formidable singer will now be in the production through July 2. And for those of us who have been loving and following Dave Malloy's luminous show since its 2012 debut at Ars Nova, and subsequent Off Broadway runs, there is even more to celebrate: Time Out has learned that for ten performances, when Groban has scheduled absences, Pierre will be played by none other than Malloy himself, who originated the part in those earlier versions.
Malloy's return will offer the rare thrill of watching a composer sing his own material: a singer-songwriter authenticity and connection that are rarely found on Broadway, with the prominent recent exception of Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton and In the Heights. This is particularly apt for The Great Comet, which uses a strong metatheatrical lens in its adaptation of a section of Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Those who have seen Groban's melancholy, beautifully sung account of Pierre may well want to return to see Malloy's rougher, more shambling take. "My voice has a kind of untrained, gravelly rock & roll quality, and it’s been amazing to watch Josh find some of that within the role—but then he has this ridiculous angelic thing that I can't quite do," Malloy says with a laugh. "I'm kind of the broken-down version. I would hope that people can watch the performances and find value in both. That’s the cool thing about theater to me: You get to see different versions of the same show over time."
The musical's original Natasha, Philippa Soo, is not in the Broadway version; after The Great Comet, she moved on to star in Hamilton and the upcoming Amélie. But Malloy's Broadway debut will also be a chance for him to reunite onstage with much of his show's original cast. "Getting to jump back into the show with Gelsey [Bell] and Brittain [Ashford] and Lucas [Steele] and Amber [Gray] and all these people that have been with the show since Ars Nova—it's amazing," he says. "I think people will feel that: a sort of old-school feeling."
Malloy will sub in for Groban on the following dates: Thursday, May 4, through Tuesday, May 9; Tuesday, May 16; Tuesday, June 13; Tuesday, June 20; and Tuesday, June 27. A new block of tickets has just gone on sale. You can buy them here.