Last night, I attended my first musical since seeing Hello, Dolly! in February 2020. I saw Anastasia at the Merriam Theater, here in Philadelphia. Running from November 23 through November 28, this Broadway hit musical is based on the 1997 film of the same name, which is based on a 1956 movie, also of the same name. So, you could say that this is a story that’s been told for 65 years and still going strong. Read on for my thoughts on Anastasia and whether or not you should buy a ticket.
From the Tony Award®-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.
Anastasia features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) with direction by Tony Award® winner Darko Tresnjak.
Both the music and lyrics are spectacular. From the modern, rhythmic notes of each song to the touching, humorous, and, most importantly, satisfying words being sung, I was blown away by the sumptuous sounds of Anastasia.
Presented by the Kimmel Cultural Campus in partnership with The Shubert Organization, the cast includes Kyla Stone as Anya, Sam McLellan as Dmitry, Brandon Delgado as Gleb, Gerri Weagraff as Dowager Empress, Bryan Seastrom as Vlad, Madeline Raube as Countess Lily, and Taya Diggs and Marley Sophia as Little Anastasia. The ensemble includes Mikayla Agrella, Lance Timothy Barker, William Aaron Bishop, Harrison Drake,Thomas Henke, Dakota Hoar, Veronica Rae Jiao, Evin Johnson, Ceron Jones, Madeline Kendall, Lizzy Marie Legregin, Victoria Madden, Christian McQueen, Elizabeth Ritacco, Taylor Stanger, Sarah Statler, and Lauren Teyke.
The cast is incredible, especially Kyla Stone, who is beautiful, vibrant, and one of the most compelling vocalists you’ll ever hear or see on stage; a tremendously powerful talent who steals every scene, mesmerizes with her charm, and enthralls with her boundless talent.
“Our Campus is home to artistic experiences that inspire young people to become lifelong lovers of the theater, and to grow into empathetic, kind citizens,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and soon-to-be president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. “Part of our Family Discovery Series, Anastasia is a returning Philadelphia favorite for all ages that teaches lessons about courage, tenacity, independence, kindness, and more.”
The show played to sold out audiences on Broadway for more than three years before expanding its global “Fanastasia” community with productions on tour across North America and in Japan, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. Globally, the show has been performed more than 2,500 times and sold 3.4 million tickets. Additionally, the show has garnered more than 15 major international awards, including Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards and Best New Musical in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The original Broadway cast recording has been streamed more than 150 million times and is available at BroadwayRecords.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. The 75-minute album includes the Academy Award®-nominated favorite “Journey to the Past” alongside new numbers from the show such as “In My Dreams,” “Still,” and “My Petersburg.”
Anastasia is only here through Sunday, so I implore you to buy tickets for yourself and your family to see this special show. It’s about love, family, and finding yourself: all essential, relatable elements of the human condition. In these times where many of us are divided, musicals such as this one serve as a powerful uniting force for good. Allow yourself to be swept away by the majesty of Anastasia. It’s a journey to the past that everyone should take.