If you grew up in the ’90s, you may have heard about one of the greatest cartoon movies of all time, Anastasia. The film was loosely based on the true story of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova, the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholass II, who was murdered along with her family on July 17, 1918 in Russia. The film played on the rumors that Anastasia had escaped and survived the killings. Now, Anastasia’s story is getting a second life in a new musical that will debut at Connecticut’s Hartford Stage on May 12, and come to Broadway in the 2016-2017 Broadway season.
According to Playbill, Terrence McNally wrote the libretto, or “script” in layman’s terms, and Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens of Ragtime and Rocky fame, wrote the score. Tony winner Darko Tresnjak, will lead the Anastasia production, which is, of course, inspired by the popular 1997 animated film. The film’s score was also originally done by Flaherty and Ahrens, so one would be quick to assume that the Anastasia musical will have the same songs and beautiful music as the film.
However, that’s not the case. McNally told Playbill the Anastasia musical will actually be very different from movie, both in the way it’s written and the music.
“This is a stage version for a modern theatre audience,” McNally said.
But don’t worry Anastasia fans! The new score still includes “Journey to the Past” and five revised songs from the Anastasia movie, plus 16 new songs. Since there are five revised songs, we have to believe “Once Upon a December” is one them. We can’t imagine an Anastasia musical without it.
McNally also told Playbill that the new libretto combines aspects of the animated movie and the 1956 movie Anastasia but will also include characters that aren’t in the cartoon or the 1956 version.
“Once you have a live character onstage it’s such a totally different expression than a cartoon figure,” McNally said about the new Anastasia adaptation. “I never felt as if I was adapting a cartoon. I think the story was too real. This story happened less than 100 years ago and has entered the collective consciousness as a fairy tale. Most fairy tales are buried further back in time. This is a contemporary one.”
Christy Altomare, who starred in Mamma Mia will play Anastasia, and Derek Klena, who appeared in The Bridges of Madison County and Wicked, will play Anastasia’s love interest, Dmitry. The supporting cast includes other Broadway vets, such as Manoel Felciano, John Bolton, and Mary Beth Peil. It’s unclear what roles Bolton and Peil will be playing, but Felciano will be one of the new characters, Gleb, a police officer assigned to Anastasia’s case. He will be tasked with discovering if Anastasia is in fact the Czar’s daughter and probably responsible for turning her in since as McNally pointed out to Playbill, “the Bolshevik government [wouldn’t] want a legitimate heir to the Russian throne to be alive.”
Although it’s been proven long ago that Anastasia did in fact die during the Bolshevik Revolution, in the context of both the film and now the musical, that fact doesn’t really matter. Fans of the animated film fell in love with Anastasia not because of the historical context but because it was a story about a young girl who was lost and then discovered not only did she have a grandmother and family, but that she was a princess. The fact that she also fell in love with a really hot guy along the way also made the movie very entertaining.
According to Variety, Anastasia will premiere on Broadway at a Shubert Organization theater and will be produced by Stage Entertainment USA. No exact date has been set yet, but for now you can still watch Anastasia as many times as you want on Netflix.
[Photo by FOX]