Sometimes you need to ignore the New York critics and dive in to a play centering on a subject you know nothing about. That’s the joy of Nikolai and the Others, Richard Nelson’s fascinating new drama about a group of Russian emigrees led by choreographer George Balanchine (Michael Cerveris) and composer Igor Stravinsky (John Glover), set in 1948 as they collaborated on the ballet Orpheus. Sounds like a “take your medicine” night out for balletomanes only. What a surprise to find that Nikolai is a vibrant look at the creative process, the yearning that artists feel to do great work and the unsettled feeling that comes from being forced to build a new life far from home. There’s even a subplot touching on the rising Communist witch hunt and the CIA’s attempts to coopt famous artists. Nelson, who writes dialogue that makes audiences feel like they are eavesdropping on real life, is perfectly matched with director David Cromer, who has assembled a to-die-for cast including the divine Blair Brown, Stephen Kunken, Kathryn Erbe, Alvin Epstein and Really Really standout Lauren Culpepper. As you watch these folks eat a meal on Marsha Ginsberg’s farmhouse set, you’ll wish could join them to drink, bicker and savor the creative genius of Balanchine and Stravinsky. Cheers to Lincoln Center Theater for giving Nikolai and the Others a ravishing world premiere.