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BWW Review: ANASTASIA at Broadway Grand Rapids Is A Journey to The Past, With Theatre Drops of The Future!



Anastasia, currently playing through Sunday, June 30th at DeVos Hall, by the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime and inspired by the beloved films, Anastasia is the new dazzling Broadway Musical that transports the audience 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.

Edward Staudenmayer (Vlad), Lila Coogan (Anya),
Stephen Brower (Dmitry) and company
National Tour of Anastasia.
Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

Anastasia is a very unique show. For the first time in my many years of going to shows, national tours or local theatre, no show has ever used a single digital drop, with only few "extra" pieces flying in front of it where the physical set is needed such as the doors having to be walked through or the upper border that flew in about mid-stage for the forest. Other than the backdrop and two smaller screens to the stage left and stage right of the columns, everything was totally projected. Since the show did change years, thanks again to the digital screen, they were able to transition smoothly by running the year across it as it would change, as not to lose the audience in the previous time. I can defiantly appreciate this, as I find sometimes there are shows that you're so deep into a scene and then it is suddenly in a different place with no warning. This is the theatre tech in me, who again even in our own shows have always used cloth or canvas back drops that are needed to have a different drop lowered for each scene, and this seems like it would be a great idea to cut down on the number of moving pieces in a show! That being said the projections were so sharp and detailed you really felt you were in a castle, on a train, it was snowing outside, and, best of all, you really were in Paris on the bridge or under the Eiffel Tower. This was a very impressive show in a technical sense and felt very 3D on stage.

Victoria Bingham (Little Anastasia) and Joy Franz
(Dowager Empress) National Tour of Anastasia.
Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

In addition to the awesome tech, you can't go to a musical and not expect to hear a great score with some very powerful vocals, and the cast didn't disappoint from the opening number "Once Upon December" to the moving "In My Dreams" to "In a Crowd of Thousands," the music will have you humming as you leave the theatre. The costuming is very detailed and very period accurate, from those of the Russians to the detailed ballgowns of the female actresses.The choreography was also very strong. It had a complete ballet and with very detailed dances for the Russians, which made me think of Fiddler on the Roof. I would also like to give a special shout out to the lead who played Anya, Lila Coogan, who has played the role since the US tour began back in October 2018 back in New York, and how awesome it is to see the person who has been the role since the tour started. I'm sure she has a bright future ahead in shows not only tours, but very much possibly Broadway!

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

If you are looking for a great show filled with hope, love, great choreography, and a great score, I very highly recommend checking out Anastasia!

Lila Coogan (Anya), Stephen Brower (Dmitry)
and the company of the National Tour of Anastasia.
Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

Anastasia is currently running through Sunday, June 30th at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids. For tickets, visit, and hopefully they will see you next season as well.

Connect with Anastasia online at, on Twitter at, on Facebook at and on Instagram at

Connect with Broadway Grand Rapids for complete info on Anastasia, and the most up to date info on individual tickets for next season, which starts off with Fiddler on The Roof.It continues with 2 of the hottest ticketed shows on tour: The Lion King opening November 20th, and Hamilton in January, both making their Grand Rapids debut. They are not to be out done by the 2 season closing shows, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and recently just closed on Broadway and making its Michigan debut on its new fresh tour: Escape to Margaritaville. Find them at, on Twitter at @BroadwayGR, on Instagram at @broadwaygr, and on Facebook at

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