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‘Anastasia: The Musical’ Review

Anastasia opened at the Ed Mirvish theatre in December 2019 and will run through January 2020. Anastasia puts an exciting twist on the classic princess fairy tale. Opening in Petersburg in 1906, a young Anastasia is with her Nana. A long dance sequence takes place with a smooth transition as little Anastasia walks behind a pillar and outcomes an older Anastasia. Her mother comes out in a stunning white gown partnered with a veil and gleaming crown. The number is suddenly interrupted as fires erupt in the background and embers are falling to the ground. Shadows of soldiers appear amongst the flames and loud shrieks echo across the theatre, simulating the death of the family.

This exciting beginning transitions to Petersburg in 1927. The plot is established early on with two of the main characters, Vlad and Dmitry who decide they will find a girl and insist she is Anastasia in order to gain a reward for finding her. In a later scene, Vlad and Dmitry are holding auditions for an Anastasia. Here Anya, played by Lila Coogan reveals her incredible voice during the song, In My Dreams.

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The two men, Vlad (played by Edward Staudenmayer) and Dmitry (played by Jake Levy) begin to teach Anya how to act as if she were Anastasia. The show successfully foreshadows what is to come as the men are teaching Anya. They begin to realize she is better at many of the mannerisms they are trying to teach her, “I don’t think we taught her that!”

Dmitry shows his passionate side in a scene where he takes Anya to his favorite place in Russia. Remarkably, Levy portrays his character’s admirable side with ease, as he sings about his love for Russia. The background is lively and full of color throughout Dmitry’s section of the song My Petersburg but suitably transitions into black and white as it is no longer relevant during Anya’s section of the song.

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The set design was never lacking in creativity. In a scene in which the actors had boarded a train, a trolley was used to depict their ride. The trolley actually began to move on stage, one character would be revealed at the front, then the trolley would move to the side in order for Anastasia to be facing the audience throughout her lines. Once she had finished, again the trolley would move to reveal Dmitry to the audience who was at the back of the trolley. The excitement of the stage design accompanied with the captivating plot made for an intriguing show.

The complicated dancing sequences were executed with such ease in addition to the singing and acting. Throughout the dance numbers, the actors never missed a step. In one scene, members of the ensemble lifted people onto their shoulders and continued to dance while holding them up. In a later scene, Anastasia included a full ballet dance with a flawless routine done by the talented Lyrica Woodruff.

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The digital background used for each set gave the show an authentic appearance. Throughout Anastasia it transitioned from the fiery red background in the beginning, into a ballroom, a palace, the night sky, the Eiffel tower, a battlefield and even inserted a moving screen which simulated a train ride during the trolley scene. Notably, one of the backgrounds matched the tiles on the stage perfectly, making it appear as if the stage were double its original size.

At a certain point nearing the end of the show, Anya is able to have a heartwarming moment with her grandmother. This scene is perceived as the end of the show; however, it is important to stick around until the end. There are more surprises following the heartfelt scene between Anya and her Nana.

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As a whole, Anastasia was orderly and by the end of the show it connects all of the dots. The way the characters are introduced ensures that the audience understands who each character is and their purpose to the show remains clear throughout. All of the storylines involved in the show effortlessly come together, and make for a happy ending.

Anastasia is suitable for those looking for a show to see with their family over the holidays. Children would enjoy the songs as well as the costumes while the older crowd could enjoy them in addition to appreciating the plot of the show. Anastasia will run through December 2019 – January 2020 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.

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