It is no secret that I love Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (but for everyone’s benefit in here it’ll just be referred to as Great Comet). Last night I wasn’t able to fall asleep and so I decided to listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Great Comet and something struck me as wrong.
Anatole, the romantic interest for naive Natasha, says “I will not deprive myself of this one” speaking of Natasha. Now that raised a lot of red flags for me when it came to Anatole, so I went back and listened to the show another five times and it all became abundantly clear. Something that I love about this show is that at first glance there is no true villain, but as one keeps unraveling the story and learning everyone’s motives the more that the real villain becomes clear.
Still wanting to see the best in people, I decided to take to the public and ask Great Comet fans if they felt that Anatole truly loved Natasha via Twitter Poll. What surprised me was the number of people who responded no, it was 65% out of 54 people. This is very telling considering a majority of people who were polled had not had the opportunity to actually see the production live, so, like me, they relied on the cast recording to shape their views on this topic.
Just by listening to the cast recording, Anatole gave off the whiny entitled brat who is used to getting what he wants, when he wants it. However, a good friend of mine who had just seen the show got in touch with me and told me how her view changed after seeing the show.
“So I voted no orignianlly but then I actually saw [the show] yesterday. So he definetly doesn’t, at least at first. Because he never says he loves her to anyone but Natasha. Then in letters, Anatole doesn’t even write his letter to Natasha, Dolokhov writes it…. In “Pierre & Anatole” he literally breaks down, he is hanging off the railing sobbing because he can’t be with her. And yes he doesn’t put up a fight to leave, which can be seen as he doesn’t actually love her, but I truly believe he leaves so easily because he DOES love her and knows that staying and fighting would be selfish and he wants to protect her and her reputation.” – Hannah Holtz
After hearing this it showed me just how layered and well defined Anatole is as a character. Lucas Steele makes him work on so many levels, and I love the fact that his Anatole is completely different on the recording versus his live performance. It truly enhances the art of live theatre and it in a way makes me frusterated that he wasn’t awarded the Tony Award.
However, having this layered and distict performance in Anatole makes me think just how well Great Comet is written and how it brings Broadway and modern musical theatre to a whole new level. Bravo to all those involved with Great Comet, I can only hope to be able to see this show soon.