The Kerfuffle over #covfefe- or the Russian influence on Broadway? The Great Comet of 1812 and Anastasia

What else might the Russians have “influenced” besides the US Elections?  Broadway—in a sense. Lost in the kerfuffle over #covfefe, is the impact of Russian themed shows on Broadway.

Two of the hottest new musicals this Broadway season are set in Russia (not contemporary Russia, of course): Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 and Anastasia.

The Great Comet of 1812 stars multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban and earned 12 Tony Award Nominations (including Best Musical and Best Actor nomination for Groban.) The musical is based on a 70 page excerpt of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and is set in 1812 just prior to Napolean’s invasion of Russia. Everyone in Moscow is on edge- especially Groban’s lonely, aristocratic Pierre. Here’s two (2) songs from the show: “Prologue” (the opening number) and “Pierre.”

Anastasia is the stage adaptation of the epic 1997 animated film. Here, a young Russian woman “Anya” (played by Christy Altomare) tries to reconnect with her past as she travels from post-Revolution oppressive Russia to lively, liberated Paris. Might Anya really be Anastasia- the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II who is rumored to be the sole surviving member of the Romanov family?

The Great Comet of 1812 and Anastasia are among the top grossing Broadway shows this season—averaging more than $1 million in Box Office sales each week and selling-out night after night. So in this case, Russian “influence” might not be so bad.

Looking forward– keep an eye on The Government Inspector (starring Michael Urie and Michael McGrath) opening on June 1 at The Duke on 42nd Street. This is a wonderful production of Nikolai Gogol’s famous farce, The Inspector General. If this production transfers to Broadway next season, it might well be another Russian-themed hit. Set in 1836 in a “typical” Russian village, The Government Inspector is a classic tale of political corruption (in 19th century Russia) and the great lengths government officials go to hide the truth. The themes here, however, are timeless—and seem to ring true in new ways, and, in new places.