Great Comet & In the Heights


Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night and I’m excited to bring my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Broadway’s Tony Award nominations last week gave ‘The Great Comet’- or ‘Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’ (which is it’s full title) the most nods with 12, including Best New Musical.

The story is taken from a section of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ and the music is what’s become known as “poperetta”- a kind of pop music style of opera.

Josh Groban received a Best Actor nomination in his Broadway debut as Pierre, who is trapped in a loveless marriage. The story plays out like the Russian war-time soap opera it is but the real draw is the inventive set design by Mimi Lien, who should certainly win the award for turning the Imperial Theatre into a Russian cabaret- which puts everyone in the audience right into the show. Director Rachel Chavkin was nominated, too, for doing a great job utilizing the set design to stunning effect with the full cast. Great job by the orchestra, too, for combining both old and new world instruments.

‘The Great Comet’ received the most nominations this year but I don’t see it winning best musical- though it is sure to pick up some awards for its sheer theatricality.

So while it is fun to experience it, I give it 3-and-a-1/2 stars out of 5 as Dave Malloy’s adaptation of part of Leo Tolstoy’s story didn’t really move me, and I would not give it Best Musical for that reason. I believe that honor will go to ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ or possibly ‘Come from Away,’ both of which are far more moving.

Locally, Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret has ‘In the Heights’- the Best Musical winner in 2008 that first brought ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to Broadway.

3 years before reaching Broadway it was first produced in Connecticut, at The O’Neill in Waterford.

Downtown Cabaret’s production is well done and features standout singing from Olivia Grace Rivera and Jessica Paige Braun as well as a heartfelt performance from Marcelo Calderon in Miranda’s original role of Usnavi. The choreography is a lot of fun, too. I give ‘In the Heights’ 4 stars out of 5.

It runs weekends through May 21st. For tickets visit My Cabaret dot org.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!

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