Review: Anastasia the Musical on Broadway3 min read

Anastasia: Hitting their Demographics Wickedly

[4630]_Christy Altomare-2

Anastasia: Hitting their Demographics Wickedly

By Ross
The energy and excitement in the crowd is intoxicating, even though the crowd seems to be made up mostly of teenage girls way below the drinking age. And for me, it’s a blessed thing to see the young audience members beaming with glee to be at a Broadway show.  Anastasia is created with this demographic in mind and they are embracing it. The splashy and animated postcard-like musical is pretty enough; based on both of the 20th Century Fox’s films of the same name; the 1997 animated film and the 1956 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner. And I’m sure it’s sweeping and grand enough to keep those imaginative young minds engaged and (hopefully) wanting to come back for more. That being said, I’m sure my friend and I were in the minority that had not seen either films, although I’m guessing most in the audience were here because of the animated one. There are probably also very few who don’t know the tale of the woman who turns up in Paris claiming to be the long lost daughter of the Czar, the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia.  It’s a real life fairy tale crafted into a dreamy romantic musical directed with flair by Darko Tresnjak, the Tony winning director of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. The story is birthed out of the chaos of revolution and murder, spanning the vastness between St. Petersburg and Paris, with a thrilling mystery at it’s center. Is this young amnesiac woman the lost daughter to Russian royalty? Or part of a con job perpetrated upon the rich grief-stricken grandmother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, regally played to perfection by Mary Beth Peil (The Visit).  Is it for money? fame? acceptance? This is the hook that is being dangled before our eyes (and ears), but sadly, we all know how the true story ends (the body of Anastasia was found years later buried with the rest of the family and Anna Anderson the most famous of impostors was proven to be just that). Although, here on the Broadhurst Theatre stage, we want to believe.
[3475]_Nicole Scimeca
Anastasia, with a book by the brilliant Terrence McNally (The Visit, Master Class) and songs by the Tony-winning team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime) starts out thoroughly enchanting us with the lovely and engaging memory song, ‘Once Upon a December‘, one that is sure to be reprised throughout this quest to regain a slice of the familial past. It’s a charming catchy song sung by a grandmother to her favorite granddaughter before leaving her for Paris. It carries with it all the love and warmth, enshrined in a music box, wrapped in the royal romance of pre-revolutionary Russia. It swirls a magical spell on us just like the Russian ghosts who dance and swirl about to the regale but sometimes chaotic choreography by Peggy Hickey (A Gentlemen’s Guide…), each and every time the song is performed. It reminds me of other sweet lullabies used to bring forward the innocent past from a few older and better crafted musicals, such as Mary Poppins and Les Misérables. I only wish the rest of the show brought forth similar and stronger attachments and memories, more then what this pretty, but slightly dull musical is able to conjure.
[4676]_ John Bolton
(for the full review, click here)
Posted on May 15, 2017
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