My day at the Flea started with being encompassed with the high energy and excitement that defines the Broadway Flea Market! First up was the Broadway Performers Autograph table: When the staff said they would try to get everybody for the 11:00 A.M. signing through in the time allotted, I was almost jittery with the opportunity to see some of my favorite stars up close and personal. Everyone at the table signed the Broadway Flea poster, and I asked Jessica Vosk if she would also sign her CD booklet that I brought with me. What I was not expecting was for Jessica Vosk to ask to take a photo of us, and then put said photo on her Instagram story! Wow! I mentioned to Jessica that I worked as a member of The Theatrical Board and that I wrote the review of her album a few weeks ago and thanked her for retweeting it. Jessica was so appreciative that I did the review. Not only that, but Amanda Cooper who was next to Jessica Vosk said she also read the review. Yes! I had been changed for the better
After lunch, we headed back out to the Flea and stopped by the Anastasia table where they had prop letters that are used in the show. I purchased a rolled-up packet tied with a ribbon and to my delight, what I thought was only one of the letters ended up being all four that the Dowager Empress reads during her number “Close the Door.” At the Lights of Broadway showcards table, I got the five Flea exclusive cards! Time to get to the Broadhurst Theatre as there is no late seating for the Anastasia show.
The aspect of Anastasia that I would like to share as someone who has just seen the musical for the first time are thoughts on what makes the piece unique.
The story is something we all know from Russian history: the Romanov family was killed, but they say one daughter (and a son) could have gotten away; that is the rumor, the legend, the mystery of Anastasia. Just as the number, “A Rumor in St. Petersburg” muses. Following the history we know, the tragedy of the Romanov Empire would end when the revolution occurs when Anastasia is 17 years, but the movie and the production keep going. We next see Anya as an adult who only remembers bits and pieces of her childhood and the horror of the events, but the show has clues throughout that she is the long-lost princess. They took the facts we know, and expanded on that within this work of fiction; the writer Terrence McNally executes it flawlessly. I appreciate that combination of historical facts and narrative to create a compelling tale such as this piece. Everyone has a part of the story, from the ensemble to the Dowager’s lady-in-waiting, Countess Lily, and the distant memory of a young boy Dmitry, the conman and adult love interest of our heroine.
The audience may not be aware of the amount of dance this musical has until you watch it, and there are spectacular dancers in the cast. The Romanov sisters track with Molly Rushing as Young Anastasia, Maria Briggs as Maria, Lyrica Woodruff as Olga and Kelli Youngman as Tatiana are who I would like to highlight. Of course, these dancers move with such grace and poise and their roles use so much ballet you can see that these women have extensive dance training. They blew me away as their partners used lifts in the dance, and the fluidity of their movements was on par with a major ballet company. These dancers are also in the ballet Swan Lake in the second act and once again you are taken with how beautifully the dancers perform. The whole ensemble needs to move in various numbers such as “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart,” but these four dancers take dancing in a musical to the next level with their talent.
The last thing that makes Anastasia fantastic to see live is the technical spectacle, and by this I mean the use of projections to add to the live action. You have the moving side walls that run on a motorized carousel with embedded screens and the cyclorama, which is the wall at the back of the stage, used to dynamically project new scenes, a leap over the traditional flying in and out of painted backdrops. These projections are the centerpiece of the set, and how they work so well to enhance the story is exceptional. These not only add to the ongoing narrative on stage, but they likewise reveal a tale of their own with the number of details in them.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my recent New York City trip. If you don’t previously know Anastasia, I anticipate you will want to find out more about the show. If you already appreciate the musical, I hope you relived some of your favorite moments through my experience.
(Photo by Steve Lottes.)