Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On ANASTASIA on Tour
The National Tour of Anastasia had its official opening night in Schenectady, New York last week! The production stars Lila Coogan as Anya, Stephen Brower as Dmitry, Jason Michael Evans as Gleb, Joy Franz as Dowager Empress, Tari Kelly as Countess Lily, Edward Staudenmayer as Vlad and Victoria Amelia Bingham as Little Anastasia. The ensemble includes Brianna Abruzzo, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Alison Ewing, Peter Garza, Jeremiah Ginn, Brett-Marco Glauser, Lucy Horton, Mary Illes, Fred Inkley, Kourtney Keitt, Beth Stafford Laird, Mark Mackillop, Kenneth Michael Murray, Taylor Quick, Claire Rathbun, Michael McCorry Rose, Matt Rosell, Sareen Tchekmedyian, and Addison Mackynzie Valentino.
From the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime and inspired by the beloved films, Anastasia is the new Broadway musical that's "one of the most gorgeous shows in years!" (New York Observer). This dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.
The creative team 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 G. LaPointe (Hair/Wig Design), Joe Dulude II (Makeup Design), Tom Murray (Music Supervision), Lawrence Goldberg (Music Direction), Doug Besterman (Orchestrations), David Chase (Dance Arranger), casting by Telsey + Company/Craig Burns, CSA.
ANASTASIA, currently celebrating an open-ended run on Broadway, began performances on March 23, 2017 at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) with critics exclaiming "Ahrens and Flaherty have chosen the right moments to musicalize, and their score here sounds complete and full - one of the season's strongest! (NBC)" and "Smartly adapted by Terrence McNally, Anastasia is a sweeping adventure, romance and historical epic whose fine craftsmanship will satisfy musical-theater fans (Time Out)". The new musical has played to sold out crowds on Broadway since officially opening in April 2017, in addition to garnering multiple Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards and nominations.
ANASTASIA on Broadway is produced by Stage Entertainment, Bill Taylor (Sister Act, Rocky), Tom Kirdahy (It's Only A Play, The Visit), Hunter Arnold (Kinky Boots, Spring Awakening), Dan Hinde, 50 Church Street Productions, The Shubert Organization, Elizabeth Dewberry & Ali Ahmet Kocabiyik, Carl Daikeler, Van Dean/Stephanie Rosenberg, Warner/Chappell Music, 42nd Club/Phil Kenny, Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Broadway Asia/Umeda Arts Theater, Mark Lee & Ed Filipowski, Harriet Newman Leve, Peter May, David Mirvish, Sandi Moran, Seoul Broadcasting System, Sara Beth Zivitz, Michael Stotts, LD Entertainment/SallyCade Holmes, Jay Alix & Una Jackman/BlumeGreenspan, Carolyn and Marc Seriff/Bruno Wang, and Silva Theatrical Group/Adam Zell in association with Hartford Stage.
What did the critics have to say?
Diego Cagara, Spotlight News: But the props, set changes and overall production were majestic in nature. The interactive train sequence was a highlight as an actual train compartment outline was used to simulate the vehicle, which sometimes maneuvered to show different angles. There was also a splendid sequence where "The Swan Lake" was performed to Anya, the Dowager and Dmitry within the musical. The cast's vocals were also triumphant, the best examples including Staudenmayer who channeled Vlad's deep hyper-masculine voice with comic relief, and Coogan as Anya who ended the first act with a powerful "Journey to the Past" rendition.
Steve Barnes, Times Union: More problematically, "Anastasia" seems to have been put together by a committee with more command of the tropes of the Grand Broadway Musical than of a distinctive story for that musical to tell. The costumes (by Linda Cho) are sumptuous, the dancing (choreographed by Peggy Hickey) is dazzling, and all the business of wowing an audience gets ticked off one by one - there's even a ballet! - while a not-very-mysterious mystery gets solved, as does a will-they-or-won't-they love story. A musical without a soul might as well be a fireworks display, flashing across the sky only to disappear from view and memory.
Check back for more reviews as they come in!