True love and connection - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 217

Photo by Bentley Stevenson

True love and connection by Madelaine Empson

“Broadway’s most innovative, and best new musical since Hamilton” (The New York Times) is coming to Pōneke thanks to WITCH Music Theatre. Based on a scandalous 70-page slice of Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is a modern pop-opera that has redefined what musical theatre can be with its innovative, immersive staging and genre-defying sound.

Hannah Playhouse will be transformed into a theatre-in-the-round from the 20th of April until the 4th of May, when a 10-piece band, a cast of 17 performers – helmed by Pōneke actors Lane Corby and William Duignan as Natasha and Pierre – and even the high-flying aerialist Jackson Cordery will deliver this whirlwind journey of opulent excess, hedonism, and profound passion.

With love a central theme onstage and behind the scenes, The Great Comet is directed by married couple Maya Handa Naff and Nick Lerew, and creatively produced by Ben and Joshua Tucker-Emerson, who tied the knot in February this year. Ben says there was somewhat of an expectation to bring the WITCH magic touch to the ceremony at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata.

“Of course, the venue had a custom install with a roof of mirror balls, vivid lighting, a vintage couch lounge, and chandeliers on the ground”, he chuckles. With Josh by his side, building WITCH from a “young and hungry space into producing at a professional level and creating more opportunities for music theatre artists in Aotearoa” has been a proud journey for Ben.  

When it comes to The Great Comet, Maya and Nick say all the characters are searching for true love and connection.

“And just like we do today, they seem to look in all the wrong places first. But The Great Comet is incredibly hopeful at its centre. The final 20 minutes of the show are some of the most beautiful, compassionate, and moving of any piece of theatre we’ve ever experienced. No matter how many times we rehearse together, we are all overcome with tears by the end. The show gets us every time, and we can’t wait to share this gorgeous story with audiences.”

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