Interview: Chatting with ANASTASIA On Tour Star Willem Butler

He gave us some insight into the production and why this musical adaptation is the perfect way to kick off this season of Broadway in Indianapolis.

By: Oct. 03, 2022
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Anastasia (Non-Equity)

Have you heard? There's a rumor that ANASTASIA is about to hit the stage in Indianapolis! The anticipation is growing, and we were lucky enough to get an interview with Willem Butler who stars as Dmitry. He gave us some insight into the production and why this musical adaptation is the perfect way to kick off this season of Broadway in Indianapolis.

It's always fascinating to learn how lucky actors come to land these stellar roles, and Willem's story does not disappoint. He landed the audition, but he had to say "I have something that I can't miss that week. I can't be in ANASTASIA." This was a major disappointment considering ANASTASIA was the first Broadway show that he witnessed as a senior in high school. But clearly the story didn't end there. His agent let him know that the audition could be rescheduled, and the rest fell into place. Willem was thrilled to say, "I was one of the lucky people who got a job out of school."

Many potential audience members are likely wondering, how does the musical compare to the beloved cartoon? Will you love the musical as much as the movie? Do you have to see the movie to appreciate the musical? Mr. Butler gave us all the answers we needed in one simple statement: "Anyone can really find a connection to it." A lot of the musical numbers from the film are preserved, minus those that feature Rasputin. Instead, "Communism as a whole is more the villain." This situates the musical as a "more historically accurate version" of the original movie and draws the audience into "the Romanoff history of the show."

Dmitry as a character is complicated and nuanced, so we wanted to know how Willem prepared his own version of this icon. First and foremost, "I really wanted to do it justice." He started by sitting down with his predecessor for the North American tour, Sam McLellan, and dove into how he formulated his version of Dmitry. Then Willem watched the movie and researched what people seemed to really enjoy about the film version of the character. Finally, "I looked for specific moments I really wanted to push," and we cannot wait to see how his hard work translates onto the stage.

ANASTASIA is set in a tumultuous time in history, so we wanted to know how it may resonate with a modern audience. Mr. Butler explained that ANASTASIA really has a point of entry for everyone. You could think of it as "almost an escape from [modern] society," as "a good place to go for a love story," and as a solution if "you want to feel an emotional connection." It has it all!

In his final remarks, Willem shared, "If you enjoy the movie, you're going to enjoy the musical," and ANASTASIA is "one of the most modern classically written musicals" you can find on stage.

Join Willem Butler as Dmitry in ANASTASIA when it comes to Indianapolis October 18th through October 23rd at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. It is sure to be a magical, musical journey to the past

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