Review: “Anastasia” at the Music Hall


Kayli Slayden, Staff Writer

This past March, the touring company of “Anastasia: The New Broadway Musical” came to the Music Hall in Kansas City.

Inspired by the animated children’s movie, the show begins with a brief, historical prologue regarding the Romanov family and the October Revolution in Russia. The scene fades out, and the curtain re-opens on Dmitry and Vlad as they struggle to scrape together enough money to cross the Russian border before it closes for good. Upon hearing a rumor that the Duchess Anastasia Romanov has survived the Bolshevik’s brutal murder, and that the Dowager Empress is offering a ransom to anyone who can find her, Dmitry and Vlad set to work on finding a girl they can pass off as Anastasia, in hopes of collecting the money. When they happen to stumble across a young, amnesic girl named ‘Anya’, it seems as though their plan is nearly foolproof. But through the process of teaching Anya the art of illegal pretense, they discover that she’s a little too much like the missing Duchess Anastasia.

The costuming, designed by Linda Cho, ranged from the breathtakingly elegant beauty of the dresses belonging to the Romanov women, to the honest, rough style of the common people struggling through the difficult living conditions that the Soviet Union brought. Each costume was precisely crafted and detailed, bringing the historical time period to life.

The instrumentation of this show was my favorite part, personally. The deep, resounding throb of the standup bass carried the smooth singing of the violins and flutes, riding effortlessly atop each crescendo and decrescendo. Every scene was driven by the music that surrounded it, adding an extra layer of depth to the dialogue and blocking.

Vocally, the amount of talent was astounding. Lila Coogan sang the main character of ‘Anastasia’ with a vibrantly colorful passion and determination. There was impeccable characterization embedded in her songs, displaying her emotion to the audience.

Stephan Brower’s ‘Dmitry’ also excelled in expression and acting through the lyrics, and when presented with the task of belting an F4 in ‘My Petersburg’, did so without hesitation.

My only criticism regards the slightly-more-than-edgy choreography that accompanied the song ‘The Countess and the Common Man’. Though I know it was meant to draw laughter from the audience (which it did), it made the song a little more uncomfortable than it needed to be, and was a downside of the show that I was hoping I wouldn’t find.

The collective, overall effort of the cast, crew, and orchestra created an exciting, and somewhat mysterious, atmosphere that flowed smoothly alongside the plot and characters. The show as a whole was sweet and comical, and when the curtain closed, it left each member of the audience with a smile on their faces.