It was November, I was 22, I still think of that now and then.
Having the opportunity to see Anastasia on Broadway was something that only seemed like a fantasy to me for a while. I had grown up with the 1997 cartoon and it was an instant favorite. Is it not every little girl’s fantasy to be a lost princess (you know, like The Princess Diaries, Tangled, and of course Anastasia) or was it just mine? So when I made the decision to test myself by taking a solo trip across the country to New York, it felt like fate.
I woke up that morning, braced myself for the cold (well, 45 degrees is basically below 0 for someone from Los Angeles) to head over to the Broadhurst for tickets. By luck, there was a single ticket available in the orchestra for not a bad price so I bought it and was thrilled. I set out for the rest of my day which included visiting the New York Public Library and MoMA.
The show was at 7:30 so I naturally left the hotel at 6:45 to walk three blocks because I’m paranoid about being punctual. Upon arriving at Shubert Alley, I saw the line WRAPPING around the Shubert. Like, I knew the show was popular but I wasn’t expecting so many people in line already and so many school groups. So. Many. School. Groups. But I made it in and to my seat and prepared myself for what I was about to see.
While I was a fan of the 1997 movie, I must say that the changes made for the stage adaptation make it so much better. The songs that were added, oh my God, the songs that were added blow me away. In My Dreams is such a phenomenal song where Christy Altomare pours her heart out at the beginning of her time on stage. She really IS Anastasia (much the same way that I believe Ethan Slater IS Spongebob). Christy’s Anastasia is so pure and wonderful and THANK GOD believable.
I loved the decision to take the dark magic side out of the story and instead have the antagonist be the new regime not wanting any trace of a Romanov. I liked this particularly because it’s more believable. The Romanovs were in fact taken captive by a new military power and eventually killed. Making the story more based in reality was a great choice.
Now, while I LOVE the song Crowd of Thousands, I prefer the way Anya and Dmitry met in the film to the stage version. There’s just something about the fact that he helped her escape during the siege rather than just spotting each other in a parade that makes the story better. But, oh man, Crowd of Thousands is such a good song. Another plot point from the film that I think is better is that Anya had a necklace that was the key to the music box. The stage version has her just knowing how to open it. The necklace makes the evidence of her actually being Anastasia so much stronger.
I’ve already talked about how wonderful Christy Altomare was as Anya, but might I just say that John Bolten and Derek Klena were also perfect in their roles. I had been watching Christy’s Broadway vlogs and seeing how much fun they had backstage certainly shows their chemistry onstage. Watching the three of them just have fun on that stage was something I’ll never forget. I love seeing people who love performing have fun while doing just that.
The costumes are also jaw-droppingly beautiful. My favorites are definitely the blue dress that Anya wears to the ballet and the red dress she wears at the end. So. Beautiful.
And the sets. MY. GOD. the sets and projections are mind-blowing. Seeing the digital background take us from scene to scene, from St. Petersburg to Paris shows the direction set design is headed. Obviously, traditional sets will always still be used but I feel like digital backgrounds are something we are definitely going to be seeing more of in the coming years.
To sum it all up. I love this show. It’s beautiful and nostagic and the only show I’ve ever seen twice on Broadway.