ANASTASIABook by Terrence McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Inspired by the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Pictures
Performing Arts Fort Worth Presents Broadway at the Bass
National Touring Company
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Directed by Darko Tresnjak
Choreography – Peggy Hickey
Production Stage Manager – Patricia L. Grabb
Scenic Design – Alexander Dodge
Costume Design – Linda Cho
Lighting Design – Donald Holder
Sound Design – Peter Hylenski
Projection Design – Aaron Rhyne
Hair/Wig Design – Charles G. LaPointe
Makeup Design – Joe Dulude II
Casting – Telsey + Company, Craig Burns, CSA
Orchestration – Doug Besterman
Vocal Arrangements – Stephen Flaherty
Dance Arrangements – David Chase
Music Supervisor – Tom Murray
Music Director – Lawrence Goldberg
Music conductor – Michael Aarons
Tour Booking – The Booking Group, Meredith Blair and Kara Gebhart
Little Anastasia – Delilah Rose Pellow
Dowager Empress – Joy Franz
Tsarina Alexandra – Lucy Horton
Tsar Nicholas II – Brad Greer
Young Anastasia – Taylor Quick
Maria Romanov – Kristen Smith Davis
Olga Romanov – Claire Rathbun
Tatiana Romanov – Kourtney Keitt
Alexei Romanov -Delilah Rose Pellow
Countess Lily – Tari Kelly
Gleb – Jason Michael Evans
Dmitry – Stephen Brower
Vlad – Edward Staudenmayer
Anya – Lila Coogan
Paulina – Taylor Quick
Marfa – Kristen Smith Davis
Dunya – Kourtney Keitt
Count Ipolitov – Brad Greer
Gorlinsky – Fred Inkley
Russian Doorman – Fred Inkley
Count Gregory – Brad Greer
Countess Gregory – Alison Ewing
Odette in Swan Lake – Claire Rathbun
Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake – Mark MacKillop
Von Rothbart in Swan Lake – Ronnie S. Bowman, Jr.
Suitors, Soldiers, Comrades, Ghosts, Parisians, White Russians, Waiters, Reporters, Cygnets in Swan Lake – Ronnie S. Bowman, Jr., Kristen Smith Davis, Alison Ewing, Peter Garza, Brett-Marco Glauser, Brad Greer, Lucy Horton, Mary Illes, Fred Inkley, Kourtney Keitt, Mark MacKillop, Taylor Quick, Claire Rathbun, Matt Rosell
Conductor – Lawrence Goldberg
Keyboard 1 – Josh Cullen
Assistant Conductor/Keyboard 2 – Valerie Gebert
Music Coordinator – Michael Aarons
Keyboard Programmer – Randy Cohen
Violin – Jennifer Griffin
Violin/viola – Catherine Allain
Cello – Debbie Brooks
Bass – Carl Hillman
Reed 1 – Randy Lee
Reed 2 – Pete Brewer
Trumpet – Andrew Bezik
Trombone – Wes Woodrow
Percussion – Pete Aan
Contractor – John V. Osborne
Reviewed Performance: 5/28/2019
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on the 1997 Twentieth Century Fox animated film, directed Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and adapted for the stage by Terence McNally, the musical script ejects the evil sorcerer, talking bat, and other fantasy aspects from the movie and plants the story more firmly in a historical context. The story begins in 1917 with the Russian Revolution and the toppling and execution of the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The opening of the play takes us before that and into a bedroom where the princess Anastasia (Delilah Rose Pellow), is bidding a tearful farewell to her beloved ‘Nana’, the Dowager Empress (Joy Franz), who is leaving for Paris with the promise that she will meet Anastasia there someday. ‘Nana’ gives the little girl a music box and as it plays, we are taken to an extravagant ball and watch as Anastasia becomes a young girl (Taylor Quick). The regal festivities are brutally interrupted by bomb bursts and as the royal family flees, Anastasia goes back for her music box. As she turns to run, she is engulfed in explosions and suddenly vanishes from view and from history.
We are then taken to St. Petersburg, Russia, now called Leningrad by the victorious communist revolutionaries, in 1927. Living conditions are hard and people console themselves with the hope the princess Anastasia may be alive. As these rumors continue, despite the efforts of Gleb (Jason Michael Evans), the newly appointed general in charge of the city, to suppress them, two con men Dmitry (Stephen Brower) and Vlad (Edward Staudenmayer) plot to use the rumors to get rich. Knowing the Dowager Empress, now living in Paris in exile, has offered a reward for the return of Anastasia, they begin looking for a girl they can pass off as the lost princess. During the search they encounter the young street sweeper Anya (Lila Coogan), who has amnesia and no knowledge of her past, making her the perfect candidate.
And so, we’re off. Will our trio of hucksters succeed? Will the be able to get out of Soviet Russia alive? Will Anya regain her past? What of her future? These questions are ably answered by this production and along the way we get to see lavish costumes, experience jaw-dropping lighting and projection effects, strong musical numbers, and top-notch professional acting. For those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to see musicals on Broadway, this company has made Fort Worth a perfectly good alternative, if not better. I had a wonderful time.
Visually, the show is stunning. From the screen greeting the audience with the title “Anastasia” surrounded by swirling snow to various ballrooms and street scenes teeming with swirling lights and passing trucks and cars and smokestacks belching smoke, the lighting design by Donald Holder and the projection design by Aaron Rhyne immerses the audience in an ever-changing world of delights. Scenic designer Alexander Dodge provide a series of cathedral-like arches housing the projection screens and, with the use of various set pieces (in one case a wonderfully constructed rail car), ably takes us to the various rooms, streets and countries the story requires.
Costume designer Linda Cho shows both a sense of style and fun in the costumes for the production. She gives us the grandeur of a by-gone era in the costumes for the royal family and the participants in the ball at the beginning. Resplendent in white, the dancers whirl about, providing a palate for the lights dancing about, first in joy and then foreboding. Ms. Cho then takes us to the gritty streets of Leningrad with the ragged attire of people just trying to make it to the next day. When we go to Paris, the cast is arrayed in the jazz age fashions of the 20’s. The costuming is another of the wonders of this show.
The choreography by Peggy Hickey is lively and enjoyable. Ranging from the majesty of the waltz to the jazzy reworking of Russian folk dances and to the graceful movement of dancers in a packed rail car, Ms. Hickey gives this talented cast the tools to showcase them at their best.
The songs are established musical fare. We have the ballads. We have the required pull-all-the-stops-out production number. And there is a comic number. All is standard in the world of musicals. The singing talent of the cast makes each song shine, and some songs (“Stay, I Pray You” sung by Brad Greer with great earnestness, and “In a Crowd of Thousands”, in which Lila Coogan and Stephen Brower filled the hall with emotion) were simply brilliant. I must also mention the song “The Countess and the Common Man”, sung and danced with brilliant comic timing by Tari Kelly and Edward Staudenmayer. This wonderful number stopped the show and gave them a long period of well-earned applause.
Director Darko Tresnjak (a Tony and Obie award winner) has managed this sprawling piece with style and efficiency. And the cast he assembled is the reason this show casts such a potent spell on the audience.
I wish to first thank all the ensemble players for the endless energy and skill they displayed. Providing the soldiers and street people and club-goers and all the other people needed to populate a world so big; they provide the setting against which the featured actors can brightly shine.
And shine, they do. Lila Coogan as Anya catches the audience’s empathy right way. Anya has spent years on the streets, making her way as best she could. But she hasn’t become hard and Ms. Coogan shows us her heart and her longing find out who she really is. When she sings, her voice soars and reveals to us all she lost and all she searches for. Anya embraces the scheme to fool the Dowager Empress as a way of discovering herself. Ms. Coogan beautifully shows us Anya’s vulnerability and courage to accept whatever comes her way. She is the emotional center of the show.
Dmitri is the stereotypical character who, despite his earlier dislike of the heroine, falls in love with her. Stephen Brower makes him anything but stereotypical. He invests Dmitri with real emotion, and we come to care for him. As his veneer as streetwise hustler begins to drop, we see the lonely boy who had to make his way through life alone and longs to be accepted and loved. Mr. Brower’s singing voice is rich and vibrant and is especially effective in the ballads (particularly in the song “In a Crowd of Thousands”).
As Dmitri’s partner in crime, Edward Staudenmayer’s Vlad is a brilliantly hammy creation. As a con man who wormed his way into the halls of nobility, Vlad boisterously makes his way through the world with humor and the sense that everyone else owes him a living. It is such a well calibrated performance. Mr. Staudenmayer can be wildly broad one moment and then credibly express the care and love he has for his fellow conspirators Dmitri and Anya. I cannot leave this character without talking about the dance number, “The Countess and The Common Man” again, which Mr. Staudenmayer performed with the ultra-talented Tari Kelly as the Countess Lily (who also excelled in the production number “Land of Yesterday”). Both are able singers, and both have faultless comedic skills. It showed how two talented actors can take a musical number and use it to bring down the entire house. It was hilarious.
Jason Michael Evans brings a gorgeous singing voice and real sense of love struggling against duty and history to the character of Gleb. Joy Franz makes the Dowager Empress a force to be reckoned with while her singing reveals the weight of loss and longing the character carries. Brad Greer’s wonderful tenor voice touches the soul as his character, Count Ipolivtov, sings the achingly beautiful “Stay I Pray you.”
This company of actors has given us a gift of enchantment and joy. And Broadway at the Bass has given people a chance to see it for less than listed ticket price. There is a lottery for $25 digital tickets. The digital lotteries began May 27 and take place online the day before each performance. You can enter the lotteries once a day between 10AM and 5PM. A limited number of tickets will be sold for every performance at $25 each. Seat locations vary per performance. To enter the lottery and to get more information about it, visit www.basshall.com/lottery.
This touring company of “Anastasia” will be at Bass Hall until Sunday, June 2nd. So, get your friends and family and treat them and yourself to this delightful tale of love, faithfulness and how the past may be the path to the future. All told with skill, energy and wonder. That, my friend, is what entertainment is all about.
National Touring Company
Performing Arts Fort Worth Presents Broadway at the Bass
May 28 – June 2, 2019
Thursday & Friday – 7:30PM
Saturday – 1:30PM & 7:30PM
Sunday – 1:30PM & 6:30PM
Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
For Tickets or more information please call 817-212-4280
Or visit on the web at www.basshall.com/tickets--events/now-on-sale/