Broadway Theater Review: Anastasia


Becky Gillis '19, Politics Editor

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to see Anastasia on Broadway. I had loved the animated movie growing up and spent months obsessively listening to the Broadway cast album: so, by the time I arrived at the Broadhurst Theater, I was practically in tears over my excitement to see Christy Altomare and Derek Klena as Anya and Dmitry.

The Broadway show of Anastasia is in many ways a deeper and more mature version of the movie adaptation. The animated film from the 90s focuses on the Princess Anastasia’s journey to find her long-lost grandmother in Paris while running from Rasputin, an undead man who sold his soul to get the chance to kill the Russian royals. The Broadway version, however, follows the real history a bit more closely.

In the Broadway show, the antagonist is a Bolshevik official named Gleb who is assigned to track down and kill Anastasia in order to preserve the new Communist government. Instead of a classic evil villain, Gleb, portrayed originally by Ramin Karimloo, is a conflicted man attempting to make the impossible decision between betraying his country and killing an innocent young woman. Throughout the show, the audience experiences Anya’s journey from a scared and lonely girl to a fiercely independent woman who is willing to give up everything she thought she wanted for the people she decides truly matter to her.

Composer Stephen Flaherty kept several of the musical hits from the film, including “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon a December,” but filled the show with incredible new songs as well. One particularly impressive feat of the composer’s is how he took part of the melody of the villain Rasputin’s “In the Dark of the Night” from the movie and wove it into a new song, “Stay, I Pray You,” which Anya and several others sing to their homeland of Russia as they are forced to escape. The new music is breathtaking; I cannot hope to do it justice in writing, so I implore absolutely everyone to take the time to listen to the cast album (fair warning: you will cry).

The original cast of this show is mind-blowingly talented and captivating in their performances. Anya is played by Christy Altomare, whose voice never fails to bring me to tears. She truly brings Anya to life and makes the audience feel as if they’ve known her character forever. Derek Klena portrays Dmitry, a handsome and witty Russian conman and Anya’s love interest, with a stage presence that is unmatched. His voice stuns listeners in his song “My Petersburg” near the beginning of the show, and his subtle yet deliberate movements and mannerisms transform Dmitry into a real person. Christy and Derek actually worked together prior to Anastasia, which explains why I was so blown away by their almost tangible chemistry onstage. Ramin Karimloo, one of my favorite Broadway actors for as long as I’ve loved theatre, tears hearts apart through his deeply moving portrayal of Gleb, the soldier who wants more than anything to simply know the right path to take.

Between the stunning scenery, Tony-winning costumes, and the details like the shadows that travel across the audience during a few vital moments in the show, the atmosphere of Broadway’s Anastasia alone is enough to make me fall in love with it. The new and more mature story and the way the actors bring it to life combine to create a show that I can definitively say is my favorite of anything that has ever hit Broadway. If you ever get the opportunity to see it, I could not possibly recommend it more highly.