Sumptuous “Anastasia” Delights Cincinnati
Review by Liz Eichler
Waltzing into Cincinnati these two weeks is the National Tour of Anastasia, a delight for the eyes and soul.
Anastasia is the story of a young Russian woman with amnesia, who may or may not be the only surviving daughter of Tsar Nicholaus II and Tsarina Alexandra after the whole family was assassinated during the Russian Revolution. She meets Dmitry and Vlad who urge her to go to Paris to meet her grandmother. Meanwhile, unlike the animated version, the antagonist is not a mad Rasputin, but a Russian soldier believing he is doing right in trying to capture and eliminate her.
Terrance McNally wrote the book with music and lyrics written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (University of Cincinnat College Conservatory of Music grad). Director Sarah Hartmann moves the show along quickly with tremendously smooth transitions supported by projections. Music Director and Conductor Jeremy Robin Lyons capably leads the nine-member orchestra, visible to both audience and cast. Choreography by Bill Burns (original choreographer Peggy Hickey) provides a multitude of dancing styles from ballet to the Charleston to waltzes.
This show is a rich and opulent spectacle, sure to please all audiences. The luxuriously detailed costumes (Linda Cho) and the amazing technology of projections (Aaron Rhyne, projections; Alexander Dodge, Scenic Design; Aaron Rhyne, Projections; Donald Holder, Lighting) will astound you: a truck “drives across the stage,” the room seems to grow Hitchcock fashion, and the snow is everywhere in Russia.
The heartfelt portrayal of recent CCM grad Veronica Stern as Anastasia is lovely. She has access to both sweet naive singing tones, and a passionate belt. Act One’s “In My Dreams” is quite arresting. As the Russian soldier Gleb understudy William Aaron Bishop has a powerful voice that can reach every corner of the house with “Still.”
Act Two moves quickly. The audience is treated to the pinks of Paris in a wonderful sequence “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart.” In “The Countess and the Common Man” Vlad (Bryan Seastrom) and Countess Lily (Madelyn Raube) pull out all comedic stops. The Swan Lake ballet is a glimpse at the layers of opulence, and you may have goosebumps in the Finale. (I did!)
Anastasia will be in Cincinnati until January 15. Get your tickets at the official site cincinnatiarts.org