Anastasia / our review
May 30th, 2018
Anastasia: A Fairytale to Remember
Fun Fact: The name Anastasia is of Greek origin, from anastasis which means "resurrection" - uncanny.
Target Audience: This production ticks a lot of boxes; with music this good, a sneak peek into Russian history, a heartwarming romance, and an inspirational message - well, you can't go wrong! Bring the whole family!
Best Bit:Once Upon a December (Reprise) sung by Christy Altomare and Mary Beth Peil (Dowager Empress). A powerful reminder that a strong sense of self is so often passed down from the generations before.
Morning After Effect: Anastasia leaves you with a profound message - you will never be recognized if you cannot recognize yourself and where you are from.
Meghan Markle isn't the only American who gets to be a princess - Christy Altomare has been playing the part since March 2017. Now of course, Altomare plays Anastasia, the Grand Duchess of Russia in the stage adaptation of the hit film, but nonetheless they have both inspired boys and girls from around the world to believe fairy tales really do come true!
Altomare transforms from a rough-around-the-edges street sweeper to a regal princess moving with the grace of a swan. She exudes a sense of power throughout and holds true to her independence and grace. As she undertakes her "Journey to the Past" we get to know the Russian crooks behind the scheme that will get them all to Paris, where they too undergo a personal revolution. Dimitry (played by Zach Adkins) is totally dreamy and the entire audience falls in love with him - he is the real deal prince charming with a voice that will melt your heart! Vlad (played by John Bolton) hits every comedic beat like a pro, his performance was on point and his love affair with Countess Lily (played by Vicki Lewis) leads to the greatest kiss I've ever seen on Broadway! Think lipstick smeared... from lips to chin!
With royalty comes extravagant gowns and lavish sets which Linda Cho (Costume Design) and Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design) certainly deliver. Despite the setting being in the early 1900s, Aaron Rhyne's modern addition of video and projection brought this world alive. The attention to detail was astonishing, even the cherry blossom trees have tiny LED lights to mimic the early sunrise peeping through! Overall the visual experience is spectacular.
The mystery of Anastasia has been of utter intrigue to historians for centuries and Terrence McNally's book captures this. Director Darko Tresnjak pays homage to the Romanov family's devastating death with his interjected moments of glaring flash photography. What the production doesn't reveal is that the Romanovs were told to dress and pose for a family photograph and were then faced with a firing squad. While the history is bleak, the book and music (Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens) choose to focus this story on the next generation of Russians who fall in love despite their difference in class, as well as on their ability to find common understanding despite their political aversions. Which is of course far more family friendly for Broadway and leaves the audience with hope that the world will someday be a better place, and not a "Land of Yesterday".
View our show pages for more information about Anastasia, Durham Performing Arts Center.