ANASTASIA MUSICAL – Review By Gadi Elkon

From the Tony Award®-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.   From DSM Website.

Here is my review of the musical.

ANASTASIA features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) with direction by Tony Award® winner Darko Tresnjak.

The lavish setting of St. Petersburg at the peak of Russian royalty is set ablaze in the exciting opening to Anastasia The Musical.  This fiery beginning, the accompanying song is aptly titled “The Last Dance of the Romanovs”, sets the stage for a journey about overcoming against all odds.   Our young lead Anya, aka Anastasia the 2nd to last surviving member of the Romanovs, is immediately struck down into the darkest depths of St. Petersburg.  The first act slowly introduces us to the changing world now under the socialist movement.  Anya quickly finds two potential friends in Vlad and Dmitry.  Vlad the elder of the two is a brash figure whose fun demeanor becomes the real treat of the production.  Dmitry is our Anya’s love interest and like her a lost soul trying to figure out the next step in his adventure.  While this is all going on we lay witness to the pursuing Gleb and his never-ending desire to see an end to the Romanov family legacy.  Vlad and Dmitry convince Anya to travel to Paris to start her life anew by trying to come into the good graces of her Grandmother.  The former Romanov matriarch travelled to France in the musical’s prologue and she is thought of as the last remaining member of the famous family.  Over the years many a fake Anastasia has tried to prove her connection to the Dowager Empress.

The petite Lila Coogan is our Anya and her stints on Broadway’s Mary Poppins have given her a real strength on stage.  She commands ever scene she is in and works really well off Dmitry, Stephen Brower.  Brower and Jason Michael Evans’ Gleb are almost interchangeable as far as look, but their deliveries are unique enough to give them each a stand alone presence.  Edward Staudenmayer’s Vlad though is the real treat of the opening act as his bravado carries across the entire music hall.  Our Matriach Romanov and Dowager Empress is played by veteran Joy Franz whose real power jumps to life in the musical’s more profound second act.

The production truly sparkles in its second act.  The first act is bogged down telling us all of the mystery and tale of the lost Romanov that it doesn’t have a chance to shine.  The second act opens with a mirroring party that plays perfectly off the fiery war sequence that opens the musical.  In the beauty of Paris we lay witness to the real fun and wildness of the 1920s.  Big extravagant elements bleed into each song and the stage’s fluid transitions between unique sets are really tantalizing.  The second act really saves the musical from falling flat.  “The Countess and the Common Man” is the fourth song of the second act but by far the most humorous and enjoyable of the entire production.  Staudenmayer’s Vlad meets his match with Tari Kelly’s Countess Lily.  Their back and forth tale of lost love now found is a real gem.  I’d recommend watching the musical for that song alone.  Joy Franz also gets to fully tackle her Empress title with a wonderful second act song, “Close the Door”.  It does get to the heart of her losing hope in ever meeting her long-lost Anastasia, but in her sorrow filled deliver we are treated to something special.  The second act does pick up in the last few numbers to give us a really enjoyable close.  Our mystery is given its cloaked finale to keep the dream like quality to Anastasia alive.

The musical plays through this Sunday March 3rd and is a lovely treat for families, especially ones with little girls looking for heroic inspirations.  For more information please go to, DSM ANASTASIA.

 

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