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Comet set to light up Shanghai

By Zhang Kun | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-01 07:52

Music director of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 Or Matias (front left), and Cooper Grodin (right), who plays Pierre, at a news conference in Shanghai. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

A new rendition of Dave Malloy's musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 will premiere in Shanghai in January.

Produced by the Shanghai Grand Theatre, West Bund Theatre and Changyang Culture Company, the production will bring "the complete assembly line of Broadway theater" to Shanghai, says Chinese director Zhou Xiaowei.

Three preview performances will be held from Dec 29 to Jan 1 at the Nine Trees Future Art Center in Fengxian district. The official shows will take place at the Bocom New Bund 31 Performing Arts Center from Jan 13 to March 3.

"With the production of The Great Comet, we hope to explore the business model of the global musical industry," says Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of Shanghai Grand Theatre and co-producer of the new production, at a news conference on Nov 22.

"We have over the years brought together multiple investors, taken advantage of the resources of Broadway, made full use of the branding influence of the SGT, facilitated talent exchanges and cultural collaboration between China and the United States and other countries, so as to expand the market for live shows, especially for musical theater."

The SGT is currently one of the biggest promoters of Western musicals in the country and was responsible for bringing the iconic Les Miserables to Chinese audiences in 2002. Since its inception in 1998, the theater has steadily grown from being a promoter to a nurturer and producer of musicals, notes Zhang.

Other milestones in the theater's history include the establishment of a new creative center a few years ago and its debut of a Chinese rendition of The Brothers Karamazov last year. The theater is also involved in the management of the new West Bund Grand Theatre, a venue designed to host musical performances.

The international cast will be led by director and choreographer Chloe Treat, as well as music director Or Matias, who has been working on the show since the original production was created 2012.

In terms of the leading roles, Pierre will be played by Cooper Grodin, Natasha by Naomi Diana and Anatole by Dean Cestari.

Casting for the new production was simultaneously carried out in New York and Shanghai earlier this summer, and the auditions drew about 4,500 applicants.

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