newsemu one of first u s universities to present natasha pierre the great comet of 1812

EMU one of first U.S. universities to present ‘Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812’

Crystal Graham

EMU harrisonburgEastern Mennonite University is making history as one of the first universities in the country to present “Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812,” a two-time Tony Award-winning musical that takes place March 31-April 1 at 7 p.m., April 13-15 at 7 p.m., and April 16 at 2 p.m. in EMU’s Blackbox Theater.

Based on Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” this musical adaptation by celebrated composer Dave Malloy premiered at Ars Nova in New York City in 2012. It debuted Off-Broadway the same year and on Broadway in 2016.

Audience engagement has always been part of the show, and EMU Theater’s production is no exception. Breaking down barriers between audience and actors, this immersive experience features a cast of 11 students, alumni, faculty/staff and community members singing and dancing to and with theatergoers who are seated around tables and an octagonal bar with an orchestra pit.

“It’s a cabaret café-like environment, and the workers of the cabaret café are serving up popcorn and non-alcoholic drinks and telling the story of ‘Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812’ from ‘War and Peace’” said EMU Theater faculty director Justin Poole.

“At a base level, it’s a fun show to be in and watch,” said Greta Schrag, who is preparing for her vocally-challenging role with the help of EMU voice teacher Olivia Rominiyi. “At a deeper level, it’s a story about love and humanity and what it means to physically interact with the people around you.”

Cast members perform the role of one or two named characters and in the ensemble, wearing costumes that combine period and punkish-style elements – and singing songs that combine the feel of Indie folk-rock and electronic dance music with Russian folk and classical sounds.

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals.

Tickets are $18-$20.

For tickets, visit or call the EMU Box Office at (540) 432-4582.

‘Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812’ Cast

  • Natasha Rostova | Hannah Landis and Greta Schrag
  • Pierre Bezukhov | Joseph Seitz
  • Sonya Rostova | Afton Rhodes-Lehman
  • Marya Dmitriyevna | Holly Hanks Wanta
  • Anatole Kuragin | Adam Hoover
  • Andre Bolkonsky/Old Prince Bolkonsky | Jacob Nissley
  • Balaga | Bradley Kirkdorffer
  • Hélène Bezukhova | Eileen Hernon
  • Fedya Dolokhov | Marc Dowdy
  • Mary Bolkonsky/Female Opera Singer | Grace Altman

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.