Review: “Anastasia” charms the Scranton Cultural Center


Photo credit/ Wikki Commons

“Anastasia” has charmed audiences around the world- from New York, to Spain to Scranton.

The national tour of the Broadway musical “Anastasia” played at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple from Jan. 27-29.

“Anastasia” is based on the 1997 animated film about the rumor that the last surviving member of the Russian royal family, Anastasia Romanov, survived the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In the film and musical, Anastasia winds up in an orphanage with amnesia and is renamed to Anya before she teams up with two men who are trying to scam her grandmother, who is offering a reward to anyone who brings Anastasia to her in Paris.

I had heard music from the show prior to seeing it and heard great social media buzz about it but it was not until I saw the touring production that I realized just how good it was. I attend a lot of touring Broadway shows and “Anastasia” is the best one I have seen in a very long time. I left the show angry at my friends for not introducing me to this show sooner.

The first thing that blew my mind was the costumes. At the beginning, the czar’s wife walks out in a beautiful white dress with a long train and lots of sparkles. I could not help but gasp over its beauty. Each of the costumes was very detailed and historically accurate. It was very cool to see the different types of clothing worn by the different classes of people: the beautiful, detailed royal outfits worn by the Romanov family, the dirty and torn outfits worn by the people of Russia after the country fell under the rule of Vladimir Lenin and the Gatsbyesque outfits worn by everyone in Paris. The costumes alone told the story of shifting times.

Along with the costumes, the set design was mind blowing. Like most modern musicals, “Anastasia” parts with the traditional hand-painted backdrops that are lifted up and down throughout the performance depending on where the scene takes place. This show used screens like many newer theater productions do, which is a trend I am not usually a fan of. However, in “Anastasia,” the screens added to the magic and beauty. With the snow constantly falling on a winter in Leningrad, the Bolsheviks getting closer and closer to the Winter Palace or the Eiffel Tower sticking out among the beautiful cherry blossom trees of Paris, the screen backdrops made the production as visually pleasing to the eyes as the costumes.

It would not be a musical review without mentioning the talent of the cast. Veronica Stern, who plays Anya, was born to be a princess. Her voice was so clear and so gorgeous it’s hard to believe she is not actually royalty. Willem Butler was a perfect Dmitry, the awkward leader of the scam who eventually falls in love with Anya, whileChristian McQueen played the tortured military man Gleb as he struggles to do what is right while feeling pressure from his father to be a good soldier. But I think Madeline Raube’s performance as Countess Lily stood out from the rest. She did not make an appearance until Act Two, where she stole the show with her comedy and her dancing.

The only thing negative I will say about this show is that you need to know a lot of history to understand it. I love history, but it has been a while since I studied Russian history, especially that of the early 20th century. The show is based on a children’s movie so there were many little kids in the audience but I felt like they were not enjoying it because it was very hard to understand if you have no prior knowledge of the Romanov family, the Bolsheviks and Russia under the rule of Lenin.

The “Anastasia” tour’s next stop is on Feb. 1-2 in Red Bank, NJ. Tickets range from $49-$89. If you are in the area and looking for something to do, I would recommend checking it out. You will not regret it.

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