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'Anastasia' approaches its final curtain call

'Anastasia' approaches its final curtain call

After an almost-three-year-long run on Broadway, “Anastasia” will be facing its final curtain call on Sunday, March 31. A favorite of many musical fans, the show follows Anastasia (Christy Altomare) on her journey from poor amnesia-ridden orphan Anya, to Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov.

Along the way, Anya meets the charming and mischievous Dmitri (Cody Simpson) and lovable Vlad (John Bolton), who shape her into a perfect replica of Anastasia. Little do the three know, Anya was the long-lost Princess Anastasia all along. 

Before it became a hit Broadway sensation, “Anastasia” was a film created by 20th Century Fox in the late ‘90s. Although both storylines follow Anya on her “Journey To The Past,” as well as her romance with Dmitri, there are some key differences between the two. Fans of the movie will be disappointed to hear that the dastardly-yet-charismatic villain, Rasputin, is nowhere to be found in the live version. 

Rather, the musical takes away this magical element of witchcraft and a talking bat, and replaces it with the rise of communism within Russia, providing the show with substantial historical context. Despite this major difference, the Broadway show holds its own and, although much darker, is more impactful for the audience.

With this altered plot, the musical version of “Anastasia” gives fans a new, refreshing experience while building upon the elements of the movie that made it so beloved in the first place. 

Since its debut in May 2016 at the Broadhurst Theatre, “Anastasia” has gone on to tour the U.S. and open productions in Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Russia, Spain, Mexico and China. In less than three years, the show has established itself as a successful musical that is loved by people of all ages across the globe.

As the show comes to a close, there are some qualms regarding the cast among those who want to see the show and those who have seen the show. For two years, the role of Dmitri was played by Derek Klena, best known for his acting in “Wicked” and “The Bridges of Madison County” on Broadway. Most fans can agree that Klena’s performance was the most heartfelt portrayal of Dmitri, so seeing him leave the show made fans uneasy about the next chapter for “Anastasia.” 

Unfortunately, the show will be ending with teen pop star Cody Simpson filling in for Zach Adkins who replaced Klena. Simpson, though he has experience performing in front of crowds, has not established himself as a seasoned performer as people like Klena have through actual Broadway experience.

Because of this, Simpson leaves much to be desired in his performances of “My Petersburg” and “In a Crowd of Thousands,” two songs which give the most insight into the character of Dmitri and how his life has been shaped. Simpson also has an easily recognizable Australian accent which he tries to cover with over-enunciation and an unsuccessful American accent. 

While watching him perform, it is obvious he is new to theater; but despite this, the performances by Altomare and Bolton lift his up, allowing for the show to continue to be as successful as it has been.

Although the show is not ending with a stellar performance of Dmitri, the main star is Anya/Anastasia, whose mysterious and heart-warming story is enough to draw thousands of fans to the Broadhurst Theatre each week. Anastasia will be in production until the end of March, so get tickets while they last.

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