I cherish the musical Anastasia. As a fan of the movie I waited years for a stage production, and I finally saw the show on September 30, 2018. As I was watching, it became clear just how much the production weaves the messages of home, love and family into the show. The audience sees these messages portrayed in the titular character of Anastasia (Anya), and her love interest Dmitry. This week, I wanted to look at what these messages mean to these characters.
From the start of the show, young Anastasia appears to have all she needs in the world. Home —a warm and secure place where she feels comfortable. She also has love and family, which go hand in hand for young Anastasia; she is too young to experience the thrill of romantic love, so the love for this young woman is her family. As time progresses, the Russian Revolution arrives, and the Romanovs’ pastoral life is shattered.
As the show moves on, we see Anastasia as an adult with little remembrance of her past. Now as Anya, the songs “In My Dreams” and “A Secret She Kept” reinforce this. Her memories of home, love and family are gone. As Anya sings “Journey to the Past,” she is searching for answers to the questions about her past (“Home, love, family there was once a time I must have had them too. Home, love, family I will never be complete until I find you.”) Towards the end of Act One, this song reinforces her quest for finding a sense of belonging and who she is. Both Anya and the handsome Dmitry, once a young orphan without home and family, share a subconscious need for home, love and family.
As Act Two opens, Anya and Dmitry are in Paris and begin to grow closer as they prepare to meet the Dowager Empress. Anya has a nightmare about the night her family was executed, which shattered her home and family. Dmitry comforts her and shares a story about a parade in Russia where they realize she is indeed the Princess Anastasia. As the meeting grows closer, Dmitry realizes he has fallen in love with her. He knows he must let her go so she can find her home, love and family with the Dowager Empress as he laments in the song “Everything to Win.”
However, confirming his love for her, he confronts the Dowager Empress who has refused to see Anastasia. She relents and tracks down Anya at her hotel. After a tense conversation, Anya produces a music box that her grandmother gave her back in Russia. Realizing that it was the music box that the Dowager Empress gave to a young Anastasia the night she left, they are reunited and can begin to rebuild a home, love and family.
Anastasia is unsure about her future life as a princess, but the Dowager Empress says they will be a family no matter what path Anastasia chooses. She leaves to ponder her future. Knowing that she now loves Dmitry, she runs off to find him. Anastasia finds Dmitry at the Pont Alexandre III bridge, and they embrace. In the Finale, they leave Paris as the spirits of the Romanovs dance around them.
Anastasia finds her new home. love and family at the conclusion of the show. Having lost it at the beginning of the Revolution, she finds Dmitry, and their love blossoms.
(Photo by Joan Marcus)