Anastasia is a musical with music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and a book by Terrence McNally. Based on the 1997 film of the same name, the musical tells the story of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, which claims that she, in fact, escaped the execution of her family. Anastasia, who appears in the plot as an amnesiac orphan named Anya, hopes to find some trace of her family, but sides with con men who wish to take advantage of her likeness to the Grand Duchess.
A reading was held in 2012, featuring Kelli Barret as Anya (Anastasia), Patrick Page as Vladimir and Angela Lansbury as the Empress Maria. A workshop was held on June 12, 2015, in New York City workshop, and included Elena Shaddow as Anya, Ramin Karimloo as Gleb Vaganov, a new role, and Douglas Sills as Vlad.
The original stage production of Anastasia premiered at Hartford Stage in Hartford, Connecticut on May 13, 2016 (previews), with direction by Darko Tresnjak and choreography by Peggy Hickey, and starring Christy Altomare and Derek Klena as Anya and Dmitry, respectively.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 23, 2017, in previews, officially on April 24, 2017, featuring most of the original Hartford principal cast.
Director Tresnjak explained: "We've kept, I think, six songs from the movie, but there are 16 new numbers. We've kept the best parts of the animated movie, but it really is a new musical." The musical also adds characters not in the film. Additionally, Act 1 is set in Russia and Act 2 in Paris, "which was everything modern Soviet Russia was not: free, expressive, creative, no barriers," according to McNally. The production was met with mixed reviews by critics, citing uneven subplots and an overly long running time as primary issues.
In 1907 St. Petersburg, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna comforts her youngest granddaughter Anastasia, who is saddened by the fact that her grandmother is moving to Paris. Before leaving, the Dowager Empress gives Anastasia a music box as a parting gift ("Prologue: Once Upon a December"). Ten years later, a teenaged Anastasia is attending a ball with her family when the Bolsheviks invade the palace. As the Romanovs attempt to escape, Anastasia attempts to retrieve her music box only to be shot and presumed dead along with the rest of her family ("The Last Dance of the Romanovs").
Gleb Vaganov, a general for the Bolsheviks who now controls Russia, announces to the gloomy Russians that the now-poor Saint Petersburg has been renamed Leningrad, and he promises a bright and peaceful future. The Russians protest this change but are uplifted by a rumor that Anastasia may have survived the Bolshevik attacks. Two wanted con men, the handsome young Dmitry and an ex-member of the Royal Court named Vlad Popov, hear the rumors and brainstorm "the biggest con in history", in which they will groom a naive girl to become Anastasia in order to extract money from the Dowager Empress ("A Rumor in St. Petersburg"). Behind Gleb's back, Dmitry and Vlad hold unsuccessful auditions for the scheme at the theater in the abandoned Yusupov Palace. Just as they are about to give up hope of finding a suitable imposter, a young street sweeper named Anya walks in to ask Dmitry about paperwork to get tickets for Paris. Vlad and Dmitry dismiss her, but Anya vaguely remembers that she was at the theater long ago and talks of a time when she saw a play there. Dmitry and Vlad become fascinated as Anya explains that she doesn't remember who she is and has very few memories of her past ("In My Dreams"). Amazed by her memory loss and resemblance to Anastasia, they select Anya as their impostor.
At the capital, government workers sort through rumors and reports for any that require further action. Three bitter actresses report Anya, Dmitry, and Vlad's plot to Gleb, but he dismisses them and files a case for Anya ("The Rumors Never End"). Back at the palace, Vlad and Dmitry groom a feisty Anya to become Anastasia through history, dining, and dancing lessons. Months later, Anya is poised to meet the Dowager Empress ("Learn to Do It") when she is arrested in the streets and turned over to Gleb. Gleb, having feelings for her, warns her about the consequences of pretending to be Anastasia and tries to convince her that Anastasia is really dead. He assumes this because his father was the one who shot the Romanovs and living across the street from Ipatiev House, Gleb, as a boy, heard the gunshots and their screams. However, Gleb notices that Anya has the "Romanov eyes" and realizes that Anya could be Anastasia. He lets her off with a warning ("The Neva Flows").
Anya reunites with Dmitry and they are attacked by his old con partners, whom they must fight off ("The Neva Flows" Reprise). Dmitry is impressed by her fighting skills and when Anya notes that he has it much easier as a boy, Dmitry dismisses that claim. He explains that his father was a revolutionary against the Bolsheviks and was killed in one of their camps and with his mother being dead, he had to take care of himself. ("My Petersburg"). Dmitry begins to trust her enough to show her a broken music box, unaware it is the memento that was given to Anastasia by the Dowager Empress. Anya winds the box and begins to vaguely remember her past, including a royal family ball many years ago ("Once Upon a December"). In return, Anya gives Dmitry her most prized possession, a diamond that was found sewn to her dress when she was discovered as a girl ("A Secret She Kept"). They reunite with Vlad and Anya gives them the diamond to obtain tickets to Paris.
At the train station, Count Ipolitov recognizes Anya as Anastasia and kisses her hand. As they board the train to Paris, Count Ipolitov leads everyone in a prayer of farewell to Russia ("Stay, I Pray You"). During the train ride, Anya, Dmitry, and Vlad reflect on what they hope to accomplish in Paris: Anya hoping to discover that she is actually Anastasia, Dimitri's desire for the money, and Vlad hoping to win back Countess Lily Malevsky-Malevitch ("Sophie" in the 1997 animated film), the Dowager Empress's lady-in-waiting with whom he had an affair ("We'll Go From There"). Count Ipolitov is fatally shot by the police for illegally boarding the train. Triggered by the gunfire, Anya experiences an emotional breakdown and Dmitry comforts her. The police officers then go after them since they are wanted criminals in Russia and they jump off the train, narrowly avoiding capture.
As they travel across Russia by foot, the head general of the Bolsheviks, Gorlinsky, orders Gleb to follow Anya and kill her ("Traveling Sequence"). Gleb agrees to the task, but he realizes that he is in love with Anya and questions his heart ("Still"). Anya, Vlad, and Dmitry finally arrive in France, and as they travel to Paris, Anya summons the courage to continue on and hopes that she will finally discover who she is ("Journey to the Past").
Anya, Vlad, and Dmitry arrive in Paris and are swept up by the sounds and the sights of the city ("Paris Holds the Key (to Your Heart)"). When Vlad and Dmitry go off on their own, Anya visits the Pont Alexandre III bridge and feels a strong connection to it and starts to vaguely remember her grandmother's promise ("Crossing a Bridge").
Now a bitter, elderly woman, the Dowager Empress reads the letters of various Anastasia impersonators and, heartbroken, gives up hope of finding Anastasia ("Closing the Door"). As Gleb arrives in Paris, Lily parties at the Neva Club, where rich and noble Russians reminisce about the old Russia ("Land of Yesterday"). Lily is reunited with Vlad, with whom she is angry for stealing her jewelry. The two rekindle their scandalous romance and Vlad convinces her to let Anya meet the Dowager Empress at the ballet the next night ("The Countess and the Common Man"). But, Vlad accidentally drops the ballet tickets and Gleb, overhearing their plans, picks up their tickets ("Land of Yesterday" Reprise).
At the hotel, Anya has a nightmare about her family and the execution ("A Nightmare"). Dmitry comforts her and recounts a story of how he bowed to Anastasia at a parade as a young boy. Anya vividly remembers this, and the two realize that Anya is indeed the Grand Duchess Anastasia ("In a Crowd of Thousands").
At the ballet, Vlad suspects that Anya and Dmitry are falling in love and is heartbroken that they can never be together ("Meant to Be"). During the performance of "Swan Lake", Anya sees the Dowager Empress and remembers her. The Dowager Empress also sees Anya and recognizes her, but clings to denial. Dimitri and Gleb (who is conflicting to shoot Anya) reflect on their romantic feelings for Anya ("Quartet at the Ballet").
After the ballet, Lily also recognizes Anya as Anastasia and immediately takes her to the Dowager Empress. Dmitry is anxious about the meeting and realizes that he is in love with Anya, but knows he must let her go to her family ("Everything to Win"). Anya leaves the meeting enraged, having learned from the Dowager Empress that Vlad and Dmitry intended to use her in their scheme for money. As she storms off, Dmitry waits for the Dowager Empress. Marie coldly dismisses him off, but Dmitry disrespectfully stops her. He begs her to see Anya and when she refuses again, he damns her and Russia. Impressed by Dmitry's courage to stand up to her, she agrees to see Anya.
At their hotel, Anya stops her packing to speak with Marie. She is shocked by the Dowager Empress's cruelty, asserting that she isn't the nana that Anya remembered. The Dowager Empress angrily questions Anya about her past and the Romanov Family, but Anya compels her to reflect on the person she has become over last twenty years. Anya suddenly remembers the night that the Dowager Empress left her for Paris. When Anya produces the music box and sings the lullaby, the Dowager Empress finally realizes that Anya is Anastasia and the two embrace, now reunited after twenty years ("Once Upon a December Reprise").
A press conference is held the next morning, where Vlad and Lily try to fend off the hungry reporters ("The Press Conference"). Before appearing in public, Anya expresses misgivings about her future life as a princess. The Dowager Empress notices her anxiety and insists that no matter what she chooses, they'll be together. Anya runs off to think and realizes that she is in love with Dmitry, and decides that she must go after him ("Everything to Win Reprise"). As she turns to leave, Anya sees that Gleb has slipped in and locked them in the room. She realizes why he is there and Gleb says that he must kill her to complete his father's mission. Anya now clearly remembers the day her family was killed and, without fear, taunts him to kill her so that she can be with her family. Overcome with emotion and not willing to bear the shame of his father, Gleb is unable to kill Anya ("Still/The Neva Flows Reprise"). Anya comforts Gleb and they call a truce.
Vlad, Lily, and the palace staff search for Anya and the Dowager Empress is joyful, knowing that Anya is now where she belongs. She and Gleb announce to their people that the rumors of Anastasia will now cease. Anya finds Dmitry at Pont Alexandre III, where they embrace. The couple leaves Paris as the spirits of the Romanovs celebrate the life that Anya and Dmitry will have together ("Finale").
2016 Hartford Stage Production
Titles of songs which appeared in the original 1997 animated film are in bold.
2017 Broadway Production
Titles of songs which appeared in the original 1997 animated film are in bold. Renamed from the Hartford production (#)Not featured in the cast recording (+)
Characters and casts
Differences between the musical and film
In the film, Anya and Dimitri meet as children when he helps her escape through a secret passageway. In the stage musical, it is revealed they met as children during a parade. The two recount this in the song "In a Crowd of Thousands."
Anya's dog Pooka and Bartok the albino bat are cut from the stage musical.
Gleb replaces Rasputin as the villain.
Sophie Stanislavovna Somorkov-Smirnoff is renamed Lily Malevsky-Malevitch in the stage musical.
Anya's grandmother does not give her a necklace, only a music box, in the stage musical.
In the film, Anya, Vlad, and Dimitri escape the train and board a ferry to continue their journey to Paris. In the stage musical, they escape the train and continue to Paris by foot.
Awards and honors
2016 Hartford Stage production
2017 Broadway production
Internet Broadway Database
Official Site Broadway