Review: ANASTASIA at Capital One Hall

The production runs from February 3rd through 5th.

By: Feb. 05, 2023
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Review: ANASTASIA at Capital One Hall
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The National Tour of the stunning musical, Anastasia, is visiting Capital One Hall for only a few shows, and you certainly won't want to miss it. I'm sure many people, including myself, fell in love with the 1997 movie musical which illustrated the tale of the surviving Romanov - Anastasia - in an exciting and charming animated film. After having a wonderful run of over two years on Broadway, the magic continued on tour. This show has been rewritten from the movie in a fascinatingly intelligent way that introduces you to a more complex, but just as enjoyable, form of the story with an even more beautiful score. A show about finding yourself while creating a path for your future that audiences of all ages will fall in love with all over again.

Leading the show in the titular role, Veronica Stern brings a new light to Anya that I haven't seen before, and it was greatly exciting and refreshing. In 2022, BroadwayWorld said she was one to watch for, and she has lived up to that statement. Stern truly showed why she was picked for this iconic role. Her acting choices seemed so natural and brought forward the characteristics of what we have been taught makes a real princess. She was genuine, strong, intuitive, and had the perfect witty sense of humor - which can sometimes get lost in the seriousness of the events during the time. Stern had a clear understanding of what Anya represented and she brought out the best parts of the character. Of course, her vocal performance did not go unnoticed. Delivering some of the most inspirational pieces of music during the show and hitting each mark with the right intention and great control. She had wonderful chemistry with the entire cast that made me smile with each interaction she had - especially with the dynamic duo of Willem Butler (Dmitry) and Bryan Seastrom (Vlad).

If you're familiar with our Next on Stage competition, Willem Butler may sound like a familiar name, being that he was our first ever winner back in 2020. Seeing him back those few years ago and then up to now, his talent has continued to grow. Similar to Stern, Butler brought a new energy to his character that I had not seen before. His version of Dmitry was both charming and humorous, which set a great path for him to make the audience aware of the character's development throughout the show. It was apparent that he and Stern work very well together on stage and that connection allowed for new versions of both characters that I hope to see more of in the future. Butler has a clear sense of how to take control of the stage as the audience was continuously captivated by his performance. Whether he was effortlessly belting out the high A in "My Petersburg" (unapologetically, one of my favorite songs) or comforting Anya along their journey, he knew the perfect way to approach each scene and carefully thought out every move Dmitry would make.

Bryan Seastrom (Vlad) was definitely the head of humor in this production, but he wasn't just the comic relief of the show - he helped Anya and Dmitry along their individual journeys as well as the journey they all took together to better their futures. It was great getting to see the different layers Seastrom brought to Vlad; even though he is supposed to be the illustrious conman, he has a soft spot as well. He brought a sense of wisdom that made the characters reflect along the way and was also extremely entertaining as he constantly made the audience laugh. Especially along with his costar, Madeline Raube(Countess Lily). These two were full of talent and hilarity that had the audience rolling in their seats. It was so fun getting to watch them interact on stage and play out the entertaining dynamic the two characters have.

Recently taking on the role of the new villain in this story is Christian McQueen as Gleb, deputy commissioner and general of the Bolshevik Army, set out to finish what his father could not at the beginning of the Red Terror. McQueen wonderfully showed the internal struggle Gleb faces as he meets Anya and is then tasked to find and execute the girl who claims to be the lost Anastasia Romanov. The emotions and difficulties displayed were very strong and made you almost sympathetic for the antagonist. Along with such a challenging character to step into from an acting standpoint, Gleb is tasked with difficult and powerful songs as well. McQueen beautifully rendered these songs by utilizing classical vocal aspects, while also bringing in the more tortured theatrical voice needed for this specific role. I really admired the grit that was put into this character by McQueen.

Anastasia is a show that I will continue to come back to as one of my favorite stories told on stage and it's because of all the wonderful aspects of it. Every person in the cast is so invested in it and they create such a beautiful production with their immense talents. The technical side of this show is also something I enjoy watching unfold. From the screened backdrops to the projected ghost dancers, every small detail adds to the magic of this tale. The costumes are one of the pieces that really bring the whole show together. Tying in both inspiration from the film, as well as what was trending during the time and in which place, there are exquisite creations dancing across the stage at all times. Along with the costumes, the top thing I hear from people is how amazing the score is. Again, bringing in some original music from the film and then adding more to create a masterpiece of sound. All of these elements immerse you into the story and create a full and fantastic experience.

I highly recommend going to see this production for its last couple performances at Capital One Hall, or try to catch a performance in another city that the tour will be visiting. This show is truly inspiring and holds a special place in my heart, I hope you set out to see it and experience its brilliance.

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