What do you get when you take a gutsy Julie Andrews style heroine reminiscent of Fraulein Maria, with a knack for verbal sparring and a deep desire for true belonging, accompanied by a rugged drifter, capable of setting young girls’ and boys’ hearts a flutter for the first time since Aladdin flew onto their screens with his boyish charm and dreamy 90’s hair? Add in an adorable bat and catchy songs, and what you have my friends is an animate winner with the ability to rival any of your mid-90s to early aughts Disney classics.
20th Century Fox’s musical love story Anastasia has long been a fan favorite in the animated musical category. Well, get ready to fall in love all over again. Anastasia is set to make its Broadway debut this spring and the theatre world is already buzzing.
Here is what you can look forward to from the stage version of Anastasia:
Inspiration From the Film
The musical is based on the 1997 animated film voiced by Hollywood stars like Meg Ryan, John Cusack, and Kelsey Grammer. However, unlike the stage adaptations of other animated favorites like Beauty and the Beast, the musical will not follow the film exactly. While the spirit of the original film has been preserved, be prepared for some changes in story and song placement.
Old Favorites and New Songs
Fan favorites from the musical appear in the stage version, along with several new songs by Tony Award winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who coincidentally also wrote the songs for the film version. The popular tune ‘Once Upon a December’ is solidly featured in the show, further emphasized by its use in the recently released promotional trailer.
Bye, Bye Rasputin
Left out of the stage adaptation is the classic Romanov villain Rasputin and his adorable sidekick Bartok. But fear not, a new antagonist, pro-communist Gleb, played by the incredible Ramin Karimloo, has replaced him. A theatre veteran, Karimloo played Phantom in the 25th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. If you have not heard of Karimloo, I invite you to watch the video below and fall in love.
Assembled with Experience
Karimloo isn’t the only big name part of this show. Stage and screen actress Mary Beth Peil (Dawson’s Creek anyone?) will play the Dowager Empress. The backstage ensemble is just as impressive with Tony award winners Terrence McNally (book), Darko Tresnjak (director) and Linda Cho (costumes), as well as Broadway choreographer Peggy Hickey.
The Romance is Intact
I would have been gutted if they removed the relationship between Anya and Dimitry. Their romantic-comedy style banter and beautifully developed love story are one of my favorite parts of the film. Here’s hoping that there is good chemistry between Derek Klena and Christy Altomare.
Broadway Was Not the First Stop
After a reading and workshop in New York, Anastasia had its first staging in Hartford, Connecticut. The show completed a premiere and ran at Hartford Stage, where it received promising reviews and sold out. Many of the cast members from the Connecticut show will be returning to the stage in New York.
To Russia, With Love
The beautiful, yet mysterious Russia setting paired with the romantic and whimsical Paris are characters unto themselves and as vital to the story as the leads. The musical version will keep both of these settings, focusing Act One in Russia and Act Two in Paris. Photos of the show suggest that it will be a feast for the eyes with costumes and sets just as spectacular as those created in the film.
A Star is Born
There is already a fair amount of buzz around the musical’s breakout lead Christy Altomare and the show hasn’t even opened on Broadway yet. Early reviews have been positive as she carries the role from Connecticut to New York. No stranger to the stage, Altomare was part of the first national touring cast of Spring Awakening and made her Broadway debut in 2012 as Sophie Sheridan in Mama Mia.
Anastasia will begin previews March 23, 2017 and open April 24, 2017 at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City