Last night was the opening night for Anastasia the musical at Dr. Phillips Center and I had the distinct pleasure of attending. I was familiar with the storyline of this musical but I had never had the opportunity to see the show prior to last night. Being a Western Civilization history buff I was curious to see how the storyline of the musical captured the historical mystery of the Russian princess.
Anastasia The Musical
The musical opens with the Dowager Empress played by Joy Franz and Little Anastasia played by Delilah Rose Pellow in Anastasia’s bedroom just prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1906. Anastasia’s Grandmother is leaving for Paris and has come to say good-bye to Anastasia. She hopes to see her soon in Paris and leaves her with the gift of a beautiful music box that plays “Once Upon A December” which they beautifully sing together. This simple opening is so different from most musicals where the entire cast is on stage with a rousing opening number. It is touching and so loving that you immediately identify with the characters and it foreshadows the events that follow. The scene quickly segues into “The Last Dance of the Romanov’s” with the entire ensemble in the palace ballroom in St. Petersburg. The Communists disrupt the dance capturing the ruling class in a storm of red on stage. All are there except for Little Anastasia and the Dowager Empress leaving the historical question did Anastasia survive?
The rest of Act 1 continues in St. Petersburg through the year 1927. I was in total awe as to how the scenery depicted St. Petersburg streets and interiors of buildings without manipulation. It was totally magical and really made you feel like you were right there. I believe the scenery was done through some kind of projection on scrims but I am not sure and I was so mesmerized by the scenery, I really did not care. Just know that it was so realistic and you moved throughout the streets and the buildings just as if you were there. When Count Ipolitov, Anya, Dmitry, Vlad, and the ensemble boarded the train to Paris it felt like you were really riding through the countryside with twists and turns and movement that seemed very real. I could almost smell the flowers. The scenery in Act II of Paris was equally well done using the same technology. I felt like I was actually looking out on the streets of Paris and could see the Eiffel Tower at night.
The dancing incorporated into Anastasia the musical is worth mentioning. There was a mixture of simple and complicated Russian folk dance, and beautiful ballet. I loved the ballet scene in Act II where the dancers were actually doing classical point and doing it well. Most impressive.
All of the characters played their parts well and had great singing voices. It was a joy to listen to their melodic sound. My only pet peeve is that I wish the characters would enunciate the words more clearly instead of relying on the amplification. It not only pertains to this musical but to many that I have seen recently. It is particularly important in this musical because the songs also fill in the historical detail of the storyline.
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Anastasia and recommend seeing it to anybody. You can purchase tickets to see Anastasia the musical at Dr. Phillips Center on their website now through May 19th.
*This review was provided by Annette Allport. Thank you to Dr. Phillips Center for providing tickets so she could see the show complimentary in return for review.