Sinister Siblings From ‘The Great Comet’ Go to Fashion Week


If it was the latter, Ms. Gray could hardly blame them.

She hadn’t read the classic novel when she and Mr. Steele debuted as the scheming siblings in in its first Off Broadway production in 2012.

“When I first picked the book up, I cheated and just read the 73-page section the show is based on,” Ms. Gray said, upon arriving at the Whitney in a burgundy leather jacket from AllSaints, along with a smart looking Tory Burch two-tone guipure lace Carolina dress and ’80s-inspired ankle boots from Ms. Burch.

Mr. Steele wore his own vintage black leather jacket, with a borrowed burgundy and black polka-dot shirt, borrowed black slacks and borrowed black and red loafers from AllSaints. Behind them was a stylist named Michael Fusco.

“He’s here to make sure we don’t look like morons,” Mr. Steele said with a glance, as Mr. Fusco adjusted his jacket collar.

On their way into the museum, they ran into the veteran magazine editor and critic Hal Rubenstein, whom Mr. Steele had met over the summer at a charity gala. “I was at your benefit,” Mr. Steele said.

“I saw your show,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “It was a wonderful evening.”

A few minutes later, a nervous Mr. Steele and Ms. Gray were introduced to Anna Wintour, who had seen it, too.

“I saw it! I loved it,” Ms. Wintour said, going on to marvel at how gloriously “awful” their characters managed to be.

In their front-row seats, the duo chatted about what it has been like to take part in a show that started small before settling at the Imperial Theater in Times Square.

Both actors said they struggled for years before being cast in an early production of “The Great Comet” in 2012. Ms. Gray, who is 35 and lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with her boyfriend and young son, worked over the years for the jewelry company Dinosaur Designs. Mr. Steele, who lives in Harlem and is unmarried, did everything from being a nanny to manning sample sales. (Although he is in his 30s, he asked that his age not be printed).

Given the quirky format of the show, neither saw its ultimate commercial viability as self-assured.

The 2012 production took place in a faux supper club, broke the fourth wall and featured techno-inspired dance numbers and progressive casting choices, which is how Ms. Gray (who is black), and Mr. Steele (who is white), ended up playing biological siblings.

Mr. Steele and Ms. Gray. Credit Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times

Mr. Steele and Ms. Gray. Credit Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times

The audience often got inebriated and unruly, Ms. Gray said. ”There was a little groping of the ladies,” she said.

“And there was the famous incident when someone threw a cellphone,” Mr. Steele said, referring to the time in 2013 when Kevin Williamson, a writer from National Review, earned plaudits among the cast for taking the device of a texting seatmate and hurling it into the distance.

Yet here they were five years later, being photographed by the fashion paparazzi, still not exactly famous but not anonymous either. Around 9:30 a.m., the muslin came up and the models began their march.

Roxy Music blared and Ms. Gray joked with Mr. Steele, who noted the similarities to the opulence of the models and their characters in “The Great Comet.” “They’re all Kuragins,” she said.

Like all fashion shows, it was considerably shorter than a Russian novel. Ten minutes later, the pair headed over to meet Ms. Burch, who was holding court in a corner with a gaggle of editors. “Thank you so much for coming,” Ms. Burch said, before apologizing for not having yet been to see them on Broadway.

The three posed for pictures, and then Ms. Gray and Mr. Steele exited onto the street and walked over to the nearby Standard Hotel for avocado toast.

“There’s no dairy in it, right?” Mr. Steele asked the waiter.

Although “The Great Comet” has been on Broadway just two months, Ms. Gray and Mr. Steele have each performed it more than 400 times in its various incarnations. Both said that next fall might be a good time for them to leave.

Mr. Steele has had surgery and extensive physical therapy that he attributes to all the stair-climbing he does in the show. It also gets exhausting, he said, playing one of those people who “peaked in high school.”

Ms. Gray seemed more upbeat. Before departing the restaurant shortly before 11 a.m., she recalled some advice she got early in her career: “If you stand in line long enough, you will get served.”


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