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Review: ANASTASIA at Times Union Center For The Performing Arts

The production runs now through April 3.

Review: ANASTASIA at Times Union Center For The Performing Arts

"Have you heard there's a rumor in St. Petersburg? Have you heard what they're saying on the streets?" Anastasia has made its stop in Jacksonville! The musical based on the beloved 1997 movie, follows the story of the two Russian men attempting to pass off a street sweeper as the sole surviving member of the Romanov family. Little do they know she is truly the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov. Anastasia is a treat for the whole family! I should also mention, if you were a little girl born in the 90s obsessed with the movie, this will be a very nostalgic time.

The leading lady Anastasia (Kyla Stone) was phenomenal! Anastasia is to be spunky, strong, and sweet and Stone displays these attributes well. Audiences see this in "Learn to Do It" as Stone is learning to dance with her leading man, Dmitry (Sam McLellan). As they are learning to be a royal, Stone kicks McLellan in the shin after he clumsily stepping on her foot. Her little giggle after the act displays the mischievous side of the character. Stone's ability to remember her past as she learns about Anastasia's past was beautiful. Audiences could always tell when she was truly remembering her past life as a royal, such as in "In a Crowd of Thousands" as she recalls seeing a young man, Dmitry, in the crowd that bowed in her presence. Audiences also see Anastasia fall in love with Dmitry in this scene. McLellan's part in "In a Crowd of Thousands" was also endearing as he realizes he is truly in the presence of royalty. Stone and McLellan's chemistry was exactly as I remembered from the movie and made my heart smile. McLellan's vocal talent was displayed beautifully in this scene, as well as in "My Petersburg" and "Everything to Win."

A crowd favorite was Countess Lily (Madeline Raube). Raube is definitely a master of physical comedy, seen in scenes like "Land of Yesterday" and "The Countess and the Common Man." Not only did she have great comedic timing, but her vocal talent was terrific in these numbers as well! Her love interest, Vlad (Bryan Seastrom) was stupendous in "The Countess and the Common Man" too.

The villain audience members seemed to love was Gleb (Brandon Delgado). While Delgado portrays a tough and relentless character in most of his scenes, as the audience watched him in "Still/The Neva Flows (Reprise)" his character becomes soft and compassionate as he allows the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov live.

I'd be remiss to not mention the Swan Lake Ballet within the musical. Audiences were blown away by Odette (Lauren Teyke), Prince Siegried (Taylor Stanger), Von Rothbart (Dakota Hoar), and the Cygnets performance in this scene. Audience members gave an abundant applause for the talented actors, as if it was a show in and of itself!

The entire ensemble was supremely talented. Not only did they take us to various locations and times, displayed in "The Last Dance of the Romanovs" or "Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart)." I should also mention that the quick changes that every actor was required to make was incredibly impressive. It truly helped move the story from scene to scene seamlessly, as well as the incredible scene animations that take us from Petersburg where explosions are occurring, to a train, to Paris at the ballet!

Anastasia is a beautiful musical enjoyed by audience members of all ages! The musical will be at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville, now until April 3.

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From This Author - Jordan Higginbotham