Now on Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

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By: Tracey Lawie

I traveled to New York City for a long, cold weekend in January to attend the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference. The conference where I speed date with dozens of show agencies to discuss and negotiate potential shows to grace the stage of Miller Auditorium for the upcoming season. I also get to take in shortened versions of the performances called “showcases” to sample the potential performances.  But, this year, one of my colleagues approached me after a large agency meeting to see if I would be interested in using the extra ticket she had to see Josh Groban starring on Broadway in the new musical offering Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. I was thrilled to see Josh Groban live on stage, and pair that with a new Broadway musical…needless to say, I gave her an enthusiastic “Yes!”

The Great Comet of 1812 is a pop opera, adapted from a section of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Think it sounds like a bizarre combination? You would be right, but somehow, it works. As The New York Times states, it looks “at a historical period through a contemporary lens,” and they do it well.

The first musical number made me an immediate fan. It is a rousing number that introduces the characters, with a nod to the fact that it may not be all that easy:

This is all in your program

You are at the opera

Gonna have to study up a little bit

If you wanna keep with the plot

Cuz it’s a complicated Russian novel

Everyone’s got nine different names

So look it up in your program

We’d appreciate it, thanks a lot

They then take you on a whirlwind cycle introducing each principal character and I swear I knew every line by the end of the song.

The other thing I should mention is the staging. They rebuilt the interior of the theatre so the cast was immersed with the audience throughout. The chorus was often dancing or playing an instrument directly in front of me.  Characters would collapse in chairs next to audience members on stage and at one point, they handed out egg shaped maracas for the audience to play along during a song.

CBS did a great story on Josh Groban and the show. You can catch it here and get more insight to the staging and songs:

Not sure if this show will tour, but if you find yourself in New York, or it does show up in a theatre near you, do yourself a favor and see it!

The two songs that have been earworms for me every day since seeing the show can be listened to here:

Prologue:

Sonya Alone:

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Staff Profile: Bethany Gauthier

Name: Bethany Gauthier  12662477_10103655287731002_167728813853410912_n

Title: Marketing Specialist, Sr.

Years at Miller Auditorium: 15

Hobbies: Reading, writing, seeing movies, napping, tap dancing (but not very well) and going for walks with my husband, kids and our dog, Cletus.

Favorite Miller Shows: RENT, Once, Les Miserables, David Sedaris, Wicked, American Idiot, Spring Awakening, The Scarlet Pimpernel and many, many others.

One of the craziest experiences you’ve had while at Miller: Back when The Soup Kettle was still on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall, we had Larry Thomas at Miller while he was in the cast of The Odd Couple. If you know your Seinfeld trivia, you know that Larry Thomas played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, so we had him make a guest appearance in character at The Soup Kettle. People loved it and he was really fun to meet in person. Plus, as I drove him back to Miller, I got to ask him many Seinfeld-related questions. 

One of your favorite experiences while working at Miller: When David Sedaris was at Miller in 2014, I was right next to him for three hours while he had a conversation with every person in line for his post-show meet and greet. He’s just as hilarious in person as he is in print. He was eating his dinner as he chatted with everyone. He even shared his dinner with some of the people in line—and he gave one person a bone to take home to their dog.

-Compiled by Clayton Dusendang

2016 Highlights at Miller

By: Jimmy Brand

Welcome to 2017!

We wanted to take a moment to look back on some of our favorite Miller Moments from 2016. It was a season of firsts at Miller Auditorium this year. We had many shows cross our stage for the first time–including The Book of Mormon’s week-long Miller debut in October.

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The Book of Mormon in Kalamazoo: Oct. 18-23, 2016                

American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wowed a packed house and showed us that geek is the new chic back in March of 2016.

FOX's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" - Season One
Neil deGrasse Tyson visited Miller Auditorium on March 22, 2016

My personal favorite, Alton Brown, brought his one man show “Eat Your Science” to Miller in May. While in Kalamazoo, he enjoyed Sweetwater’s donuts and Black Owl Cafe coffee.

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Alton Brown’s tour stopped at Miller on May 5, 2016. 

We also debuted Miller’s Tavern on the Plaza. Patrons enjoyed live music, sun and cocktails on the Miller Plaza this past summer. Another reason to look forward to warmer weather in 2017!

Last, but certainly not least, we began Kzoo Sings, a monthly gathering of people who get together and sing popular songs in three-part harmony. The first Kzoo Sings of 2017 takes place on Jan. 19 and we will be singing Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” For more information and to RSVP now, see our Facebook event.

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2016 treated us well, but we are ready to continue to wow you in 2017… and don’t look now, but Miller is about to turn 50! Lots of exciting things planned for our 50th Anniversary Season, including Disney’s The Lion King scheduled as part of the 2017-18 Broadway season. Here’s to a great year ahead!