anastasiaBroadhurst Theatre, New York
2017-04-16 • 15:00

I went into Anastasia with no prejudice except that I have a soft spot for the movie — some scenes in particular — and that I love its score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.

I didn’t expect to be so entranced by the stage adaptation. Everything that was wrong in the movie has been made right, especially with the writing off of Rasputin and Bartok. The existing songs have been rearranged along the revised story line and plenty of new ones have been added.

The new songs are very inspired and superbly orchestrated. One of them, the hauntingly beautiful “Stay, I Pray You”, sung by the soon-to-be-exiled Russians, could have been written by Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff. Later on, the scene at the Paris Opera interweaving the music of Swan Lake with Flaherty’s is a musical triumph.

The staging uses projections to superb effect. Two of the most striking scenes pay tribute to some of the movie’s most spine-tingling moments: the reminiscence of the ball with the ghost dancers popping out of the walls (“Once Upon a December”) and the booming up of the camera to reveal St. Petersburg (in the movie) / Paris (in the play) (“Journey to the Past”).

The cast is very good. I’ve loved Derek Klena ever since I saw him in Dogfight. Caroline O’Connor, who only appears in the second act, gives a wonderful performance. And it’s always great to see the wonderful Mary Beth Peil.

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