The persistent legend, mystique and fascination of what may have happened to Anastasia after her Russian royal family was executed in 1918 finds a new home in the musical, Anastasia. It's daunting subject matter to be sure, covering revolution, the death of the Romanov family and the rumor that Anastasia may have survived the carnage of her ill-fated family - but playwright Terrence McNally was up for the task.
He started with the 1997 animated film of the same name as his template, excising characters, trimming a little here and adding a bit there. Then he teamed up with Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who wrote the original score for the movie, and together this creative team wrapped the legend with layers of music, romance, history and yes, comedy for the Broadway stage, much to the audience's delight. Visually stunning (Projections designs by Aaron Rhyne) and richly costumed (Linda Cho captures both pomp and pageantry as well as peasant austerity), Anastasia takes the audience into the crosswinds of history and mythic imagination for a wistful look into the past and hopeful eye to the future.
The story begins in 1906 with a short prologue that introduces us to 6-year-old Anastasia (the charming and delightful Delilah Rose Pellow on opening night). She's sad that her "nana," the Dowager Empress (play with stately grace by Joy Franz) is leaving for Paris before the last ball of the winter season in Petersburg. The gift of a music box to her favorite granddaughter and assurances of meeting again in Paris placate the young child. Grandmama departs and Anastasia goes with her family to the ball. Director Darko Tresnjak uses the beautiful ballroom setting to introduce us to the family and their court. are Dressed in formal royal attire they glide across the dance floor while snow flurries speak of the cold outside the palace windows (Scenic design by Alexander Dodge). Anastasia dances with her father, Czar Nicholas II (Brad Greer), and as she goes around a pillar, suddenly we're in 1917 and the teenaged Anastasia (Lila Coogan) is dancing at the ball that takes place right before the family is executed by the Bolsheviks.
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