“Have you heard there’s a rumor in St. Petersburg?” Have you heard what they say in the streets? Anastasia stopped over in Jacksonville! The musical, based on the beloved 1997 film, follows the story of two Russian men who attempt to pass off a street sweeper as the sole surviving member of the Romanov family. They don’t know that she really is Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov. Anastasia is a treat for the whole family! I also have to mention that if you were a little girl born in the 90s who was obsessed with movies, this will be a very nostalgic time.
Leading lady Anastasia (Kyla Stone) was phenomenal! Anastasia must be brave, strong and gentle and Stone displays these attributes well. Audiences see it in “Learn to Do It” as Stone learns to dance with her main man, Dmitry (Sam McLellan). As they learn to be a member of the royal family, Stone kicks McLellan in the shin after clumsily stepping on his foot. His chuckle after the deed shows the mischievous side of the character. Stone’s ability to remember her past as she learns of Anastasia’s past was magnificent. Audiences could always tell when she really remembered her past life as a royal, such as in ‘In a Crowd of Thousands’ as she recalls seeing a young man, Dmitry, in the crowd who bowed in Her presence. The audience also sees Anastasia falling in love with Dmitry in this scene. McLellan’s role in “In a Crowd of Thousands” was also endearing as he realizes he is truly in the presence of royalty. Stone and McLellan’s chemistry was exactly as I remembered from the movie and made my heart smile. McLellan’s vocal talent was beautifully displayed in this scene, as well as in “My Petersburg” and “Everything to Win”.
A crowd favorite was Countess Lily (Madeline Raube). Raube is definitely a master of physical comedy, seen in scenes like “Land of Yesterday” and “The Countess and the Common Man.” Not only did she have great comedic timing, but her vocal talent was terrific in these numbers as well! Her love interest, Vlad (Bryan Seastrom) was also prodigious in “The Countess and the Common Man.”
The villain that audience members seemed to like was Gleb (Brandon Delgado). While Delgado portrays a tough and relentless character in most of his scenes, as the audience watches him in “Still/The Neva Flows (Reprise)”, his character becomes soft and compassionate as he allows the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov live.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Swan Lake Ballet in the Musical. Audiences were blown away by Odette (Lauren Teyke), Prince Siegried (Taylor Stanger), Von Rothbart (Dakota Hoar), and the Cygnets’ performance in this scene. The audience applauded the talented actors profusely, as if it were a show in itself!
The ensemble was extremely talented. Not only did they take us to various places and times, featured in “The Last Dance of the Romanovs” or “Paris Holds the Key (to Your Heart)”. I should also mention that the quick changes each actor had to make were incredibly impressive. It really helped move the story from scene to scene seamlessly, as well as the amazing scene animations that take us from Petersburg where explosions are happening, to a train, to Paris at the ballet!
Anastasia is a beautiful musical enjoyed by audiences of all ages! The musical will be at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacksonville now through April 3.