Written by Erin Lobner. Media by Bre Pollitt.
“Journey to the Past” on Broadway as “Anastasia” hits the stage. Based on multiple films, including 21st Century Fox’s animated picture by the same name, “Anastasia,” the musical features breathtaking costumes and grandiose sets. While the real story of Russia’s royal family was no fairy tale, this retelling is inspiring.
A little history lesson for you:
Anastasia and her family were real people who ruled Russia from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. In fact, Anastasia’s father, Tsar Nicholas II, was the country’s last emperor. Unfortunately, the real story isn’t as optimistic as the movie. In 1917, the whole family was captured during the Russian Revolution. The next year, they were all executed (you can see why they might leave that out of the kids’ movie). This video lays out the facts of the matter. And guess what–Rasputin wasn’t the bad guy. He was actually a “dear friend” of the family who definitely did not sell his soul to the devil.
Just for comparison, let’s take a look at the cartoon movie’s basic plot:
The film starts with Rasputin interrupting a ball hosted by Nicholas II, who put a curse on the family. Anastasia and her grandmother escape the castle with the help of Dimitri (a young servant boy at the time). As the women go to board a train, Anastasia falls and hits her head, resulting in amnesia. Her grandmother, having already boarded, was separated from her granddaughter. Years later, the grandmother kept searching for Anastasia, offering a reward of 10 million rubles. Dimitri and his friend, Vladimir, came across Anastasia one day and passed her off as the “real” Anastasia for the reward money. After a long journey and some terrifying encounters with Rasputin, Anastasia was reunited with her grandmother. Anastasia, then, married Dimitri for the happy ending.
Even if the story isn’t factually accurate, Variety raves that the musical provides girls with an inspiring female role model, and Christy Altomare brings the Russian princess to life. This is Altomare’s second Broadway appearance, with her first role as Sophie Sheridan in “Mamma Mia.” Derek Klena, who fits the role of Dimitri perfectly, is on Broadway for the third time. He’s also appeared in “Wicked” and “The Bridges of Madison County.”
Personally, my favorite scene from the animated movie is the ballroom dance: Anastasia sings as glowing ghostly figures light the abandoned palace ballroom. Her raggedy clothes transform into a beautiful gown as she twirls. Visions of her family join the others and she dances with her father as “Once Upon a December” draws to a close. The Broadway production does not disappoint with their version of this scene. Elegantly dressed people dance around Altomare as she beautifully sings. A couple strides around her, in outfits that perfectly replicate her parents’ clothes. And although Altomare’s outfit doesn’t transform, the scene is no less captivating.
If you watched this movie as a child, the Broadway production is absolutely worth watching–even if you just take a look at their Twitter. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s worth watching for a spunky heroine and her love interest, plus the unique villainy brought on by the fictional version of Rasputin.