New York Judge Denies Dismissal of ANASTASIA Lawsuit

By: Jan. 25, 2017
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ANASTASIA is still on a journey to the past - and Broadway - despite the news that a New York District Court judge has denied a motion to dismiss a plagiarism lawsuit against the show's producers.

As previously reported by the New York Post, French playwright Jean-Etienne de Becdelievre has accused the producers of plagiarizing material from the 1952 Marcelle Maurette play titled "Anastasia."

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein denied the motion, writing:

"Defendants' motion asks me to dismiss a claim for copyright infringement by comparing the copyrighted work to facts that are alleged to be historical, to another play based on the same facts, and to a current work that is said to be infringed. Defendants' motion, filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), asks me to make this comparison before Answers are filed, and without guidance by experts. I am unable to make such a complicated comparison. In order to do so, I would need to take judicial notice of facts said to be historical -- an inappropriate exercise. I would also have to analyze similarities and differences among different literary expressions."

In response to the denial, ANASTASIA's producers stated:

"We remain confident with our position. As is clear from the brief that we filed, the works simply are not similar and the plaintiff's case is wholly without merit. We look forward to the resolution of this matter."

Following the original filing, the show's team commented:

"Plaintiff's case is wholly without merit. While the works may start with the basic idea of the historical story of the real-life Anastasia Romanov, copyright law does not protect ideas or historical facts. Moreover, the works involved are not similar: the Broadway production has a different plot, different characters, and different settings, not to mention the numerous songs that appear in the Broadway musical that do not appear in Plaintiff's straight play. We are particularly disappointed about the filing as the production went out of its way to explain these myriad differences to Mr. Becdelievre to resolve the issue. We look forward to responding to the claims in court."

The new musical, Anastasia, is set to open on Broadway on April 24, 2017 at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street). The musical recently completed a sold-out, record breaking world premiere engagement at Hartford Stage in Connecticut.

The new musical reunites the Tony Award-winning writers of the Broadway classic Ragtime: book writer Terrence McNally, composer Stephen Flaherty, and lyricist Lynn Ahrens. Anastasia features direction by Darko Tresnjak, Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

The creative team also includes Peggy Hickey (Choreography), Alexander Dodge(Set Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), Donald Holder (Lighting Design), Peter Hylenski (Sound Design), Aaron Rhyne (Projection Design), Charles LaPointe(Hair/Wig Design), Thomas Murray (Music Supervision & Direction), Doug Besterman(Orchestrations), casting by Telsey + Company/Craig Burns, CSA. Eric Cornell(Rocky, Small Mouth Sounds) serves as Executive Producer.

From the creators of the Broadway classic RAGTIME comes a new musical about a brave young woman attempting to discover the mystery of her past, Anastasia.

Inspired by the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Pictures, Anastasia is a romantic, adventure-filled musical that takes audiences from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, all set to a lush score from the Tony Award-winning team of Terrence McNally (book), Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). Darko Tresnjak, a Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, helms the production.

ANASTASIA features beloved songs from the 1997 film, including Ahrens and Flaherty's Oscar-nominated "Journey to the Past," as well as an entirely new score from the Tony Award-winning team.