Rachel Chavkin ’08 Awarded Smithsonian's 2017 Ingenuity Award

December 11, 2017

The creators of the show Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, alumna Rachel Chavkin ’08 (director) and Dave Malloy (composer), were honored with the Smithsonian's 2017 Ingenuity Award. Introduced in 2012, the American Ingenuity Awards honors “groundbreaking individuals” and works across nine wide-ranging categories including technology, performing arts, visual arts, life and physical sciences, education, history, social progress and youth achievement.


"Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 is an explosion of relentless creativity," according to Michael Caruso, Editor in Chief of the Smithsonian. "The show was time travel at its most enchanting. It was so convincing that audiences walked out blinking, astonished to find themselves back in the present." Rachel and Dave received the award on November 29th at the Awards gala at the National Portrait Gallery.


The musical was a fully immersive experience that took the entire audience back to Russia during the time of Czar Alexander I. The Imperial Theatre was transformed to look and feel like a 19th-century nightclub in Moscow. The show received 12 Tony nominations and won 2 for design.


Past winners of the Ingenuity Award include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Jeff Bezos, David Byrne, Aziz Ansari, St. Vincent, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Representative John Lewis, Senator Al Franken, Rosanne Cash and T. Bone Burnett.