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.
The first musical I attended was Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing, and it took place during the show’s 1995 revival when it came to the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia between February 25 and March 5 of that year. In 2017, I saw Hello, Dolly! when it was revived again—this time on Broadway with the incredible Bette Midler. It is the greatest musical I have ever seen. Not only was Bette fantastic in this role which seemed tailor made for her, but the crowd that night was electric. It felt as if I was at Woodstock, Live Aid, or some other seminal moment in music history. The magic was palpable, and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to see Bette in her role of a lifetime, for which she deservedly received a Tony Award. Bette’s Hello, Dolly! broke the Broadway record for best first-day ticket sales, the box office record at the Shubert Theatre 12 times, and it shattered The Shubert Organization’s all-time record 10 times! Running from March 15, 2017 through August 25, 2018, this triumphant revival is now showing at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
A couple days ago I saw my favorite musical, Beauty and the Beast, for the fourth time. The first time was on Broadway in 1999, the second was at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, followed by a production at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia several years later. This time, once again, I returned to the Academy of Music. As expected, it was as brilliant and spine-chillingly good as the previous three times I’ve seen it. But let me take a minute to explain why I love this musical so much.