Anastasia: The New Broadway Musical: My Experience at the Broadhurst Theatre

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a few days indulging in my musical obsession in none other than New York City’s very own theatre district, Broadway. Along with classics like the Book of Mormon and Wicked, I fed my inner child and spent an evening wrapped up in communist Russia and Anya’s journey in Anastasia. The animated movie released in 1997, which served as part of the inspiration for the musical, was a staple in my childhood and like all good childhood favorites, the music and story came rushing back to me.

I was not disappointed. In the opinion of an avid aficionado of musical theatre with no true credentials it was magical. I certainly felt transported back into that fairy-tale of my childhood, where a lost princess finds her way back to family and falls in love along the way. There are so many aspects of this show that I could praise, I will respectfully resign myself to just a few.

The stage design dazzled, using props, two revolving walls, and a digital backdrop to sweep audience members from St. Petersburg, Russia under Bolshevik control to Paris, France in its 1920s heyday. The video display gave depth to the set, extending the imagined world past the spatial limitations of the Broadhurst Theatre and allowed for easy, visually pleasing, and immersive transitions between a broad range of locations.

While the animated movie holds a special place in my heart, Anastasia’s mixture of fairy-tale and history created a storyline that retained all of its magic and charm while also weaving in some of the darker parts of history. Now I am not making any claim towards historical accuracy, but it was a nice change from the animated movie, which glossed right over the Revolution. If I had any complaints about the show, it would be the slight disjointedness of the storyline. In attempting to do justice to the many sides of this story, some connectedness seems to have been lost along the way.

What really left me with goosebumps and a smile that lasted until the next day were the powerful and moving musical numbers. From “In My Dreams” to “Journey to the Past,” Christy Altomare left everything on the stage. Her powerful voice was only made better by the obvious passion she had for the role. The emotions she brought to Anya’s character could be heard in every note, be seen in every facial expression, and be felt in every gesture. I left the theatre and immediately found the recording, listening to the tracks until they took up permanent residence in my mind, slipping out through humming and whispered refrains.

While not receiving stellar critical reviews and not being for most Broadway diehards, Anastasia nevertheless left me smiling and laughing so hard my ribs ached. Its catchy tunes, emotional performances, and fantastical costumes transported me for a time into a fairy tale of my youth. I would absolutely return to experience it all over again.