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Great Lakes Theater partnership puts BW talent front and center, on stage and off

More than two dozen BW students, alumni, faculty and staff are behind the current run of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”


A scene from the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s summer 2023 production of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” now on stage at Cleveland's Great Lakes Theater.

While BW music theatre fans are looking forward to the staging of "Pippin" on campus later this fall, BW students, faculty, staff and alumni are wowing audiences at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater (GLT) in the production of "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812." 

"Great Comet," described as a “bold, imaginative electropop opera from award-winning composer (and Lakewood, Ohio native!) Dave Malloy,” takes its inspiration from a "sensational slice of Leo Tolstoy’s 'War and Peace.'" 

Productive partnership


BW talent takes a break from rehearsals for "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812" at Cleveland’s Hanna Theater, home to the Great Lakes Theater company.

The show, which runs through Oct. 8 at the Hanna Theater, also beautifully encapsulates the long-running and beneficial partnership between BW and Great Lakes Theatre.

“On stage and behind the scenes, the roles are filled by BW students, alumni and faculty,” explains Bryan Bowser, associate dean for BW Theatre Arts & Entrepreneurship.

“With one exception, the entire cast is comprised of BW alumni and current students. Many of the production staff are also BW grads, faculty and staff members, including BW Music Theatre director Victoria Bussert in the director’s chair and music direction, set design, costume design and stage management roles all being filled by BW talent, as well.” 

BW BFA-acting alumna Bennie Bender (left) serves as scenic artist and props assistant for "Great Comet," while current theatre design & technical major DJ Brannan '24 (right) serves as sound intern.

Cross Country Theater Alliance

The BW collaborators, including students, alumni and faculty from BW’s theatre, dance, music theatre and arts management programs, first staged "Great Comet" over the summer at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

GLT's cross-country strategic alliance has yielded many summers of experience for BW students and alumni in beautiful Boise before the shows head across the country to Cleveland.

Bussert’s engagement with Great Lakes precedes her joining the faculty at BW, and she was integral in creating the synergistic partnership between the two.

Depth of Talent

This summer, BW music theatre grad Dan Hoy '18 was playing the lead role in the Idaho production of "Great Comet" when he received news that he’d been cast in the new Broadway musical "Harmony," which features a score by Barry Manilow.

BW and Broadway alum and Aurora, Ohio, native Chris McCarrell '13 has stepped into the role for the Cleveland production of the critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning "Great Comet."

“We are excited for Dan to be making his Broadway debut and sad to see him leave the production, but with the depth of BW alumni talent, we’re excited to welcome Chris to the cast,” Bussert says. 

Info, cast and tech teams, tickets

BW Theatre chair Jeff Herrmann’s "Great Comet" set design features onstage café and bar seating for an immersive audience experience.

For more information and tickets to see "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," visit

To see the BW-filled cast and production team lists, visit the BW event page

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