Interview with The Great Comet of 1812 star Lucas Steele
Lucas Steele has been a part of Dave Malloy's immersive hit musical Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, taking on the role of Anatole, since it's original off-Broadway conception in 2012.
We caught up with Lucas to get his thoughts on this remarkable journey to the Great White Way:
Thomas Hayden Millward: What a ride this has been for you since the musical's early days at Ars Nova! What have been some of your personal highlights of the journey so far?
Lucas Steele: Overall, watching a unique piece of theater like this grow from being an 'infant' to an 'adult' has been immensely gratifying. Every time we have worked on the production, from off-off Broadway, to off-Broadway, to A.R.T., to ultimately Broadway, has been a major growth process in which every time we have had to rediscover how to tell the story. It was never a situation where I thought 'well it worked once, it will work again'. It has stimulated us creatively on a continual basis and I hold it high among all the experiences I've participated in.
THM: In the opening number, as we meet all the players of the piece, we repeatedly hear the lyric "Anatole is hot." Why is Anatole so "hot"? And what is his importance in terms of the narrative?
LS: In my opinion, Anatole is hot because he doesn't care about any perceptions of who he is. He really doesn't give a damn. He is who he is and does what he wants. There's a blind confidence to him that I think people are attracted to. It's how he manages to jot back and forth from scene to scene with both Natasha and Pierre, completely unaware that his actions are less than honorable. The two title characters actually never interact until the final moments of the show. Anatole is the lynch pin of both Natasha and Pierre's plot lines. Literally, he is the driving force that leads them both to redemption, in different ways.
THM: You originally started with the musical's creator Dave Malloy as Pierre and now the role is being played in the Broadway production by Josh Groban. How would you compare working with both of them?
LS: Believe it or not, both of them are actually quite similar. They are both extremely affable, and open to collaboration. At times, they're also both somewhat shy, but you best believe there is an artistic beast inside them, and when they let it roar, it is thrilling to be on the receiving end of their artistry.
THM: Do you feel that a prior understanding of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" is beneficial for an audience member?
LS: You don't need to know a thing about War & Peace to enjoy this production. Of course, if you do, you will see all of the layers of detail (beneath the plot driven surface) that we have crafted into the piece. But, with that said, we have all done our best to create a piece of theater that can stand on its own...with no homework required!
THM: I would say this production is one of the most unique shows I have ever seen on Broadway. Could you describe to our readers what makes it such a unique, theatrical event compared to the other shows Broadway currently has to offer?
LS: The Great Comet is a 360° theatrical experience. Wherever you sit in the theater, you are guaranteed to have an experience like no other. An experience where you are simultaneously existing in the middle of the action, yet able to view it objectively as an audience member. You are able to participate, without actually participating. It is cinematic, all encompassing, and a theatrical achievement that I hope will stand someday as a bit of history.