Out of all the films I saw as a child, I can remember seeing Anastasia the most vividly. I remember being sat in the cinema, fascinated by the Russian grandeur and terrified by Rasputin. I even had a toy of the bat, Bartok and an Anastasia doll. As soon as it was released on VHS (this was the 90's), I got it, and rewatched that film over and over again.
Flash forward to the present, and my obsession hasn't really changed. I actually think studying Russian History as part of my GCSE History course made me fall in love with it even more. Being a bit of a theatre geek, I knew I wanted to see a Broadway show when I was in New York. As soon as I knew the dates I began looking to see what was on. There were so many shows I wanted to see, but I wanted something I wouldn't be able to see back in the UK, so really needed a new release. As if by fate, Anastasia had just opened for its preview at Broadhurst the week before. The only hitch was ticket prices. So what happened next? Well if you haven't read my Christmas Haul 2016 post, I'll fill you in. Sneakily, my parents booked my ticket to see Anastasia in the most amazing seats as a Christmas present. To say I was grateful and excited was an understatement.
It's now been about a month since I watched Anastasia and about time I shared what I thought. In a bid to not spoil the entire thing, I'm going to leave you with four main points, and hopefully a few tips for any of you planning on going too!
So this isn't about the show but I thought it was worth throwing it in. Like usual, I turned up about 30 minutes early before the start time so I could get a drink, get my seat and take everything in. What I didn't know was that doors don't open that early on Broadway and was faced with a huge queue full of others with tickets. Once doors open the queue moved super quick, but, personally, I'd aim for 10-15 minutes early to avoid having to stand too long in line. Oh, and make sure you're in the right queue? You see, there are two shows on right next to each other; Anastasia and Hello Dolly. I must admit, it was pretty hard to tell which queue was for which show, so double check before you grab your spot (the outer one was for Anastasia when I went).
The Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
The theatre itself is so beautiful and the perfect setting for Anastasia, but there are few points I want to mention if you plan on visiting. First, it's an old theatre and pretty small. I sat in the circle (upstairs) and obviously had stairs to climb which were pretty steep. Nothing unexpected, but I will point out that if you have longish legs get an aisle seat or the front row in the circle. I don't know what downstairs was like, but my legs were seriously squashed and I'm about 5ft6. In the intermission, the narrow passages to the toilets and refreshment stands get ridiculously busy; so busy I turned back. My advice would be to get everything you need at the start and stay put. Oh, and if you're upstairs like me, skip the shop and refreshments downstairs and head upstairs. not only were they quieter, but you didn't have to balance things up the stairs. Winner.
The Cast are Incredible
Let's get down to the musical. Now, I have to admit, I didn't recognise any of the cast members from the name alone, but don't let that put you off. I honestly think Christy Altomare who played Anya/Anastasia is going to be a star and name theatre lovers should remember. She was absolutely stunning and her vocals are insane. "Once Upon a December" and "Journey to the Past" seriously gave me chills. As soon as the soundtrack becomes available I'm getting it just for those songs. If you need more convincing, have a watch of these videos of Journey to the Past and Once Upon a December. But she's not even the only one who's incredible! Derek Klena is the perfect male lead and John Bolton had me giggling as Vlad. Seriously, if you usually go for shows with big names, give this a shot and see stars of the future.
The Best Adaptation of a Film I've Ever Seen
Fellow 90's kid's will be happy to know the musical is based on the 1997 animated Anastasia film. It follows the legend of the Romanov family, their murder, and the rumored surviving Princess. Having suffered amnesia, the musical follows Anastasia's, or Anya as she's now known, journey to proving she is, in fact, the surviving Princess. However, like most adaptions, there are a few changes. Rasputin isn't featured at all, and in a way, I'm glad because I think it would have pulled attention away from the main storyline. Similarly, a lot of the songs from the film aren't in the musical, but the new ones are equally incredible. One thing I really want to praise is the staging because quiet frankly it's amazing. Somehow, they manage to create ghosts, palaces, trains and everything in between seamlessly beautiful. Speaking of ghosts, that was my favorite bit (it's in the video of Once Upon A December if you need to see) and really did give you chills. I love how they added so much humor, mainly through Vlad, to what could have been a bit dark. It was just perfect and I really couldn't fault it. If Christy Altomare is going to be a star of the future, I think Anastasia will be a Broadway classic of the future.
Oh, and FYI, Broadhurst Theatre is literally round the corner from Junior's who make the best cheesecake I have ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and pop over whilst you're down that end!
If you can't tell, I fell in love with Anastasia the musical. It lived up to everything I hoped it would be and was truly breathtaking. A complete must see if you're ever in New York and get the opportunity.
What musical do you think is a must-see? I'd love to hear your recommendations!