Why ‘Anastasia’ is the Perfect Material for a Musical Adaptation

Cornelia Tzana ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Comic Books Editor

Recently, the full casting decisions for the new musical Anastasia, inspired by the animated movie of the same name, were announced, bringing the project that much closer to fans. “Oh great, yet another adaptation of an animated movie!” some of you might say.

With just a month until Anastasia begins performances at Hartford Stage, Emertainment Monthly compiled five reasons why Anastasia is the perfect animated feature to be made into a musical adaptation.

1. The Costumes

Anastasia. Photo Credit: Tumblr

One of the most breathtaking scenes in Anastasia is the moment when the ghosts of Anya’s past memories come to life to dance in a glorious ball in the abandoned Romanov Palace. Anya’s own garment is transformed into a beautiful gown as she dances with her father. Imagine a combination of the choreography from the musical Cinderella and Anna’s costumes from The King and I unfolding on a grand stage! It would definitely be a sight to remember and Tony Award-winning costume designer Linda Cho (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) is bound to deliver.

2. The Songs

Anastasia. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Anastasia. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

“Once Upon A December” is definitely up there on the list of best animated movie songs. However, it is not the only amazing composition that musical theater lyricist-composer duo Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Seussical) have achieved in this feature; “Journey to the Past,” one of the lesser-known songs of this movie, was nominated for the Best Original Song category in both the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards. And who could forget the ever so charming “Paris Holds The Key?” The soundtrack of Anastasia has a grand, elegant quality that would really enchant the audience in a theater. The team behind the musical has revealed that they will be working on new songs for the show, one of which will be named “Crossing Bridges.”

  3. The Setting

The cast of Gigi. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
The cast of Gigi. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The two big settings in Anastasia, St. Petersburg and Paris, provide a playground of ideas for any set designer. From the colorful tops of the Russian cathedrals to the golden lights of the Eiffel Tower, their imagination can really run wild. The latest Gigi revival received a lot of praise for Derek McLane’s stunning sets of Paris, which manage to capture the grandeur and elegance of the city at the time. There is so much to discover and explore visually in this theme of the “old” and “new” royalty and the comparison between the modernity of Paris and the traditional, long-gone aristocracy of St. Petersburg that is prevalent in Anastasia. With set designer Alexander Dodge at the helm of the project, we are sure to see some beautiful work on display at the Hartford Stage.

4. The Story

Anastasia. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Anastasia. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Even though the animated Anastasia is not an accurate version of the historical events of the time or the lives of the Romanovs, it is a story that captures the imagination. Hamilton sparked the idea of connecting entertainment with education and provoking audiences to further research the true lives of the characters. In a similar fashion, Anastasia may be a motive for the viewers to look into the facts and events taking place in Russia during the early 1900s. The altered elements make it a story appealing—and appropriate—for all age groups, yet the idea of a real long-lost princess is intriguing enough to ignite the curiosity about the real history behind the show.

5. Dmitri

Derek Klena as Fiyero in Wicked. Photo Credit: Broadway.com
Derek Klena as Fiyero in Wicked. Photo Credit: Broadway.com

Enough said. A true gentleman and a classic first fictional crush, Dmitri is an incredibly cunning, yet charming character that captures hearts from his very first solo part in “A Rumor in St. Petersburg.” We can’t wait to see the talented and charismatic Derek Klena (Dogfight, The Bridges of Madison County) bring Anya’s other half to life on stage. There will be swooning.

Anastasia will be playing May 12 through June 12, 2016 at Hartford Stage in Hartford, Connecticut.


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