1. Like Les Mis, it’s also a lively adaptation of a notoriously lengthy novel.
While it only covers a small section of War and Peace, adapting classic literature into a musical is no small feat.
2. It introduces you to a lot of characters without losing you.
Les Mis speeds through decades and brings a slew of new characters each time; Great Comet announces all the characters through the opening number and gives you a family tree chart for you to make all the connections right away.
3. If you’re an anachronistic francophile on top of being a Les Mis fan, it takes place in early 19th century Russia and is linked to French culture.
Les Mis takes place in various cities in France; Great Comet references Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia and has characters speak French on occasion (mostly to show off their fanciness.)
4. And while it also references a war, it chooses to focus on the relationships between individuals rather than politics.
Les Mis deals with a significant revolutionary period in France, yet spends time developing the love story between Marius and Cosette. Great Comet examines the life of Natasha, a girl who is impacted by her betrothed’s departure into battle.
5. Just like Les Mis, it’s a sung-through musical, meaning there’s singing the entire time and never any expositional dialogue.
(Which really keeps you into the story.)
6. Yet it’s also viscerally grounded in reality and deals with complex and difficult topics.
Les Mis addresses redemption, class systems and morality. Great Comet doesn’t tackle as much, but it does poignantly explore the spontaneity of human emotion.
7. Fantine and Natasha are strikingly similar.
Fantine is scorned by society for having a child out of wedlock and having her lover abandon her; Natasha, also out of love, does something that severely damages her reputation.
8. And Valjean and Pierre also have some overlapping traits.
Pierre isn’t as perfect as Valjean but both men consistently ponder the meaning of their existence and drastically change for the better by the end of the story.
9. And the antagonist(s) are just as developed and complex as Javert.
Javert is merciless because he was born inside a jail and feels exceptional contempt and mistrust towards criminals. Anatole and Hélène, while with mysterious pasts, are in extremely unhappy, economically advantageous marriages.
10. There are some seriously gorgeous period costumes.
Impressed by the Thénardiers? Wait until you see Hélène’s lacey getups.
11. Like in Les Mis, there is also a moving soliloquy sung to the stars.
Javert’s “Stars” about Valjean is a Broadway classic and always will be, but Natasha’s “No One Else” (sung while waiting for Andrei to return home from war) is definitely memorable.
12. Les Mis sings about food in “Master of the House”; Great Comet actually feeds you.
FOOD OMG FOOD RUSSIAN SNACKS YAAAAAAS
13. Like “One Day More”, there is a number that unites all the characters at once in a moment of true musical glory.
It’s a lighter number called “Balaga”, and you get a free egg shaker to join in!
14. You will feel so much catharsis by the end.
If “Valjean’s Confession” elicited tears from you, the ending of Great Comet has a very good shot.
15. The music is absolutely addicting.
“Prologue” may just be the new “(Red and) Black”.