Theater Review: Fantasy makes ‘Anastasia’ a must-see

It all started with a rumor that one member of the Romanoff family had survived their assassinations during the revolution – Anastasia Romanoff.

Many women claimed to be the princess. One woman, Anna Anderson, was very convincing until her death. Many films have been made over the years about this captivating tale of a lost princess.

Anya/Anastasia (Lila Coogan) and Dmitry (Stephen Brower) in the National Tour of “Anastasia”. Photo by Evan Zimmerman

By Jackie Roseboom

The most popular story was the animated musical “Anastasia”, released in 1997. Millions of people fell in love with this fantasy tale and the whimsical songs.

The Broadway musical very closely follows the animated movie. The most popular songs from the film have been integrated into the stage production. It premiered in Hartford, Connecticut in 2016 and hit the Broadway stage in 2017. For the most part, it’s like the film, minus some supernatural elements.

In May of last year, my family and I took a Baltic cruise with a two-day stop in St. Petersburg, Russia. During this trip, we were told the true fate of the Romanoffs – that none of them survived. The fantasy that Anastasia survived was just that: a fantasy.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that they found forensic evidence that the real Anastasia did, in fact, die with her family on that horrific day in 1918. The ones claiming to be Anastasia over the years were indeed fakes.

The fantasy story did not die, however. The beautiful story, costumes, and songs still captivate theatergoers today. Most would rather believe the fantasy, than the actual fate of Princess Anastasia.

The traveling cast and production are true Broadway quality. The costuming and sets are not cheaply done, as is the case with some other traveling shows. The projections set some truly mesmerizing scenes. It made me laugh, cry and feel all kinds of emotions like a great stage musical should.

Some of the cast’s singing voices are extremely beautiful, especially Anya/Anastasia (Lila Coogan). Countess Lily (Tari Kelly) and Vlad (Edward Staudenmayer) stole the show with their hilarious “The Countess and the Common Man” song in Act II. They had the whole theater laughing.

Some guests seemed to enjoy the show more than others. If you’re familiar with the animated movie, you’ll most likely enjoy it more. If you love stage musicals, this is a must-see.

“Anastasia” is playing now through May 19 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando before heading back on the road.


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