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How do you preserve a comet mid-blaze? By capturing it on screen before it burns out.
Producers of the acclaimed electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 are planning a feature film adaptation of the Off Broadway spectacle to the big screen, enlisting the help of fans by way of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a cinematic adaptation of the long-running show.
Independent film director Abe Sylvia (Dirty Girl, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) is attached to capture the immersive experience of The Great Comet, which tells a scandalous portion of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace in an interactive format wherein the actors perform in front of/next to/all around the audience inside a Russian supper club. It’s a wholly theatrical environment, and Sylvia and co. are hoping to bring that experience into a film context that’s part HD live recording, part concert film, part feature film, and part music video.
The hope is that the Kickstarter campaign will raise the necessary capital (currently $500,000, though that may lower by the launch on Tuesday, Feb. 11) to create and then premiere the two-hour film in New York City, after which the film will be made available for distribution. Rather than rebuilding the show from scratch, the Comet producers will utilize the existing physical elements (scenery, costumes, props, etc.) already in place in the show’s current home (a vacant lot right outside of Times Square); through the immediacy of Kickstarter, theater patrons would help the team eschew traditional long-winded studio financing and quickly raise the funds necessary to film the show after its last public performance on March 2.
The team—led by Sylvia but including the show’s creator and original star Dave Malloy, director Rachel Chavkin, and Tony-winning producers Howard and Janet Kagan—is eyeing most or all of the current cast to reprise their roles.
As with any Kickstarter campaign, there are rewards for the backers, ranging from merchandise and digital downloads to higher-end rewards like lunch with the creators, private screenings, a seat in the on-camera audience during the filmed show, and the opportunity to have the Kagans host a table read of your own original play or musical (a coveted opportunity for any budding writer who has $10,000 to spare).
From Ars Nova (where it opened in fall 2012) to the Meatpacking District to its final home on 45th Street between Times Square and 8th Avenue, the journey of Natasha has been just as extraordinary as the show itself. The piece became a sold-out sensation, and an original Off Broadway cast album was released in October 2013.
UPDATE: The Kickstarter is now live.