'Great Comet' producer hasn't paid royalties, composer says

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'Great Comet' producer hasn't paid royalties, composer says
Dave Malloy, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet,” in a pre-Broadway run of the show in New York, May 4, 2013. Malloy has filed a court petition seeking the help of an arbitrator in his dispute with the producer Howard Kagan over royalties for international productions of the musical. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- The creator of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” says the show’s producer has refused to fully compensate him for international productions of the musical, and the artist is now going to court in an effort to force payment.

Dave Malloy, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show, has filed a petition in New York County Supreme Court asking a judge to appoint an arbitrator to settle his dispute with producer Howard Kagan.

In the court documents, filed April 11, Malloy says he is owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for productions of the musical that took place in Japan in 2019 and in Korea in 2021.

“The Great Comet,” adapted from a section of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel “War and Peace,” arrived on Broadway in 2016 after a series of off-Broadway and out-of-town productions, starting at the nonprofit Ars Nova. The musical, starring Josh Groban, won strong reviews and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, but it won just two, for scenic design and lighting, and closed at a loss in 2017.

The production endured several previous public controversies. In 2016, Ars Nova asked the courts for help in a bitter dispute with Kagan over how the nonprofit was credited in the show’s Playbill. That dispute was settled, but then the next year the Broadway production imploded after a controversy over who would play the show’s lead role after Groban’s departure, and amid questions about its finances.

Lawyers for Malloy and Blue Wizard Music, the publisher of “Great Comet,” declined to comment; lawyers for Kagan and his producing entity Comet Lands on Broadway did not respond to requests for comment.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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