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Review: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale

Review: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale

This one-night only show performed to a sold-out crowd.

When I walked into Reynolds Performance Hall, 223 Beatrice Powell St., in Conway, Saturday, Nov. 19, I knew this was something special when I saw the backdrop for ANASTASIA-It. Was. Mesmerizing! The screen had shades of blue and black with a glowing gold castle on one side, the Eiffel Tower on the other side, and soaring snowflakes moving all around. The welcome was a precursor to the visually stunning musical production that took us on a self-seeking journey with the amnesiac princess.

Presented by NETworks Presentations, Book by Terrence McNally, Music by Stephen Review: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale Flaherty, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, with Director Sarah Hartmann and Music Director Jeremy Robin Lyons, ANASTASIA begins with the introduction of the Russian Royal Family. Dowager Empress (Gerry Weagraff) and Little Anastasia (Leela Chopra) have a touching nana to granddaughter scene with the famous Once Upon a December, then The Last Dance of the Romanovs ushers in the entire family with their beautiful formal wear; Kudos to Costume Designer Linda Cho and her team for the breathtaking attires that graced the stage, as well as the flowing choreography guided by Bill Burns. After the fiery demise of the Romanovs, the fun ensemble number A Rumor in St. Petersburg brings in Dmitry (Willem Butler) and Vlad (Bryan Seastrom) who sing about the possibility that Anastasia (Veronica Stern) escaped, and that there is a reward from theReview: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale Empress for whoever is or finds her. The duo begins looking for someone whom they can groom to be Anastasia and finds Anya/Anastasia, and encourages her to embrace the training in the song Learn to Do It. Meanwhile, General Gleb (Ben Edquist), who has a romantic interest in Anya, warns her to not pursue being Anastasia in The Neva Flows. Though Anya has internal struggles, she decides to go forward with the act so she can make her way to Paris because, in her heart, she knows that is where her future is supposed to be.

Act II opens in Paris, 1927, with the gang happy to be there. Dowager Empress dramatically announces that she is giving up on her hopes of finding Anastasia and sings Close the Door. Countess Lily (Madeline Raube), Vlad's love interest, is introduced in another Review: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale entertaining ensemble number Land of Yesterday. Vlad and Lily's story progresses, Anya is taken to a ballet where the Empress thinks it could be her, they finally meet, and Anastasia chooses love with Dmitry over becoming a public royal.

Stern is the epitome of what I would think a princess would be. She exuded grace and charm and sang beautifully. Butler brought a mischievous appeal to his character, and Edquist was commanding as the antagonist. Weagraff was regal as the Empress and demanded respect. However, my favorite pair to watch was between Raube's Countess Lily and Seastrom's Vlad. Their sexual tension being worked out through song and dance was a welcome relief from the seriousness of the musical. As an added note, the Swan Lake ballet performers Odette (Gabriella Burke), Prince Siegfried (Lathan A. Roberts), and Von Rothbart (Luke Rands) received an extra applause from the audience.

Led under the direction of Amanda Horton, Reynolds Performance Hall is located on the University of Central Arkansas campus and is a 1,200 seat, state-of-the-art theatre that hosts many touring acts including musicals, speakers, educational shows, music acts, and more. UCA Public Appearances is a division of the University's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. To find out more about what is coming up next at this fabulous facility, visit their website at https://uca.edu/publicappearances.

If you missed your chance to see this amazing production of ANASTASIA, the touring company will make a return visit to Arkansas at the Alma Performing Arts Center March 16. To purchase tickets, go to https://anastasiathemusical.com/tour.

Photos by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made

Review: ANASTASIA at Reynolds Performance Hall Dazzles with this Visually Stunning Tale



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