Friday, 30 June 2017

Anastasia Broadway Musical Review

I recently mentioned that I saw Anastasia, the Broadway musical in New York City. I really enjoyed this musical and I am going to attempt to give you a somewhat spoiler free review of the beautiful musical, though there will be some spoilers since I am comparing it with the 1997 animated film which is also called Anastasia.  I hope you enjoy and consider going to see Anastasia on Broadway.

Title: Anastasia
Location: Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Book: Terrence McNally
Music: Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens
Choreography: Peggy Hickey
Main Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klena, John Bolton, Mary Beth Peil, Ramin Karimloo, Caroline O'Connor
Runtime: 2 hrs & 30 min.
My Rating: 5/5 Crowns
Opened: April 24, 2017
I Saw It: June 23, 2017


Anastasia is based on the 1997 animation done by Fox about the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar. In the animated movie, the youngest daughter survives the Bolshevik Revolution and escapes the palace with her grandmama [with the help of a serving boy named Dimitri] but they are unfortunately separated and Anastasia ends up in an orphanage where she remembers nothing from her past.  Then ten years later, this same serving boy is now a professional con man who works with a man named Vlad and they are trying to find the lost princess because her grandmama has offered to pay a lot of money to see her granddaughter return. They meet Anastasia [now known as Anya] who shares a resemblance with the lost princess and they embark on a journey to Paris where Anya is trained to pretend to be the princess. All the while, the villain who started the Bolshevik Revolution [Rasputin] is trying to remove Anastasia once and for all.

I love the 1997 animation because it is so much fun. There is a strong female lead, fun banter and the best songs. I was so excited when I heard that they had adapted this movie into a Broadway musical and I begged for my parents to buy tickets so I could go see it, which they did. :)

The musical is just as fun, if not more so because it is live and right in front of you, as the animated film. The plot is similar, with Anya having amnesia after the Bolshevik Revolution and running into Dmitry [different spelling] and his partner Vlad who are trying to find someone to play the princess Anastasia. In the musical, however, the plot is more realistic. What I mean by that, is that the villain is no longer ghostly Rasputin and his evil spirits. Instead, the villain is an actual leader in Leningrad [St. Petersburg], named Gleb who has orders to crush any rumors of the lost Princess Anastasia. I liked the realistic approach to Anastasia a lot as it appealed to older audiences more than the animation does.  The plot still followed Anya, Vlad and Dmitry who were trying to make it to paris in order to pass off Anya as the princess.


I enjoyed all the characters and the way they were portrayed.

Anya is the lead character in the musical. She is a young woman who remembers nothing from her past and works as a street sweeper in Leningrad. In a world where no one has a voice, she goes about her days with her head down and trying to appear invisible. After she meets Dmitry and Vlad and teams up with them, her strength and independence begin to surface. Christy Altomare does a fantastic job portraying the lost Russian princess. Between her looks and her voice, Christy is a perfect Anya. Christy Altomare has a beautiful and strong singing voice and it just blew me away that such a small woman could produce such a beautiful voice.  I loved Anya and Christy's depiction of Anya.

Dmitry is one of the con-men and he and Anya butt heads almost immediately after meeting. Dmitry is as three-dimensional as the other characters. He comes off as cocky at the beginning but his character develops throughout the two acts.  Derek Klena who portrays the handsome con-men does a great job. His singing voice is fantastic and I was really happy to find out that he had more songs to sing as Dmitry is my favorite character in both the animation and the musical.

Vlad is as funny as he is in the animation. Vlad is Dmitry's partner-in-crime and is very amusing. The portrayal of Vlad is done by John Bolton. John Bolton is energetic and amusing and I loved how he portrayed Vlad. Vlad is more entertaining than he is in the animation because he is given more development and stage-time.

Gleb [Ramin Karimloo] is our new villain. If you didn't know, the musical doesn't explore Rasputin and instead takes a more realistic approach. Gleb is a Soviet officer who is working in Leningrad and has to shut down rumors about the princess Anastasia still being alive. Throughout the musical, he is struggling with the thought of getting rid of Anastasia for good. He is another complex character who seems to almost be in love with Anya which is why he can't carry out his orders.

The two other main characters are the Dowager Empress [Mary Beth Peil] and Lily, who is the Empress' lady in waiting.


Even though the staging wasn't as complicated as other Broadway musicals such as Wicked, it was still pretty complex.  On either side of the stage they had kind of large turntables that they spun around with different sets.  The background of the stage was also used for projections. 


The soundtrack is very similar to the animation's soundtrack. Most of the songs that were in the animation are in the musical, though not all of them. 

There are also many added songs such as Land of Yesterday sung by Lily and the ensemble, and In a Crowd of Thousands sung by Christy Altomare and Derek Klena. The new songs really add a lot to the musical and I like how the characters who didn't get to sing as much in the movie, now have their time to shine. 

Thank you for reading and I'll see you next time. 

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