Anastasia on Broadway

Have you heard there’s a rumour in St. Petersburg?

My boyfriend and I recently travelled to New York City from Baltimore for the weekend to check out Times Square and to see Anastasia The Musical on Broadway!Before this trip, my boyfriend and I had never been to NYC and therefore had never before seen a show on Broadway. We were really looking forward to seeing Anastasia The Musical because the animated film had been a favourite for both of us growing up.

Some people I have talked to, and comments I have read from others on the Internet, say they have mixed feelings about the show. But personally, I thought it was fabulous!The acting was well-done and the actors made the characters really come alive. The chemistry between Anya (Christy Altomare) and Dmitry (Derek Klena) left me hopeful! The chemistry between Countess Lily (Caroline O’Connor) and and Vlad (John Bolton) left me swooning.

See a glimpse of Christy and Derek’s chemistry in this music video for the song “In a Crowd of Thousands” – it’s so perfect and my absolute favourite from the musical. Breaks my heart and makes it swell, all at the same time… sigh.

The set design was also unique (for me) and well-executed: screens were used for the various backdrops which allowed for more changes and variety. The screens also lent to the drama and intensity of some of the scenes – you really have to see it in person to truly understand and feel what I mean!

My favourite scene was the performance of Swan Lake – when Anya, Dmitry, and Vlad are at the ballet to meet with the Dowager Empress.Christy Altomare as Anya, Derek Klena as Dmitry, John Bolton as Vlad, and the cast of Anastasia ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC.I also liked the performance of “Land of Yesterday” because the song was great, and also because the scene had some traditional Russian folk dancing. I appreciated that they added new songs (“Land of Yesterday”) and kept the familiar ones, including “Once Upon a December”.

John Bolton as Vlad, Caroline O'Connor as Countess Lily and the cast of Anastasia
John Bolton as “Vlad”, Caroline O’Connor as “Countess Lily” and the cast of Anastasia. – ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC

This particular scene gave me goosebumps and still does when I listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording

Mary Beth Peil as “Dowager Empress” and Nicole Scimeca as “Little Anastasia” – ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC

I think my most favourite part about stage shows are the costumes! I loved all of the costumes in Anastasia and even from a distance I could tell they were intricate and complex.

The Romanov Family – Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Romanov costume on actor Kyle Brown – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

My favourite costume, by far, was Tsarina Alexandra’s court dress. I love how it glittered in the light – it was breathtaking!

Lauren Blackman as “Tsarina Alexandra” – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

To date, I would say Anastasia The Musical is one of my favourite shows. It’s really between it and Guys and Dolls – but if I had to go to sentimentality and nostalgia, I’m sure you could figure out where Anastasia The Musical would rank.

If you are in New York City and looking for something to do, I highly suggest you make plans to see Anastasia The Musical!

Christy Altomare as “Anya” and the cast of Anastasia – Photo by Joan Marcus.

Guys and Dolls, Stratford

Today I went to Stratford to see Guys and Dolls at the Festival Theatre! It was a beautiful day for a show and a walkabout around town.Guys and Dolls is a musical of the ’30s and ’40s, that is set in 1950s New York, where illicit gambling and fast-talking is the norm. Strapped for cash, gambler and crap entrepreneur Nathan Detroit is desperate to get his hands on some cash to secure a venue for his craps event – anybody who is anybody will be there, so the heat is on!

When Detroit runs into high-roller Sky Masterson, he makes Masterson an offer he can’t refuse, one that Detroit thinks is a ‘safe bet’ and will net him some easy cash: Can Masterson take any doll that Detroit names on a date?

Surely not if the ‘doll’ happens to be the strait-laced, level-headed Sgt. Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission. But it turns out that it’s hearts that are at stake, and where love’s concerned there’s no telling how the dice will land.

Evan Buliung (centre) as Sky Masterson with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Guys and Dolls was vivid and energetic. The singing and dancing were on point. Director and choreographer Donna Feore is sheer talent, as is the company she worked with to make this show possible. I LOVED the opening act of the show, where everything was bustling like it was a busy city street and harbour area. Every scene of the show was exceptional!

Members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The acting was also incredible – the company was full of talent. There is so much to say, but here is a bit about the artists who played some of my favourite characters:

I first encountered the talent of Alexis Gordon (Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls) last fall when she played Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music.

Alexis was great in A Little Night Music where she played a similar role of a straight-laced, naïve young woman – but the character of Sarah Brown was a firecracker just waiting to be lit! It was really nice to see Alexis portray a strong female character, and one that was a more major role. Also of note is Alexis’ singing! She has an incredible voice that you have to hear to believe.

This was my first time encountering the calibre of Blythe Wilson (Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls). She made Miss Adelaide come to life with believable effervescence. I hope I am able to see more of her work!

Alexis Gordon (left) as Sarah Brown and Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

I also enjoyed the smooth-talking and wise-cracking of both Sean Arbuckle (Nick Detroit in Guys and Dolls) and Evan Buliung (Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls). I also encountered Sean in A Little Night Music where he portrayed the more minor role of Mr. Lindquist.

The duo of Trevor Pratt (portraying Nicely-Nicely Johnson in this performance of Guys and Dolls) and Mark Uhre (Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls) were a riot! They’re really an ideal friendship and comic-relief.

My favourite aspects of the show were the signs that could change from black and white to all sorts of neon colours – and with the stage floor looking like a map of the city and the stage background made to look like scaffolding and fire escapes, it all really transported you and made you feel like you were on the mean-streets of New York City.I also loved the costumes, everything was gorgeous, period-appropriate, bright and sparkly. I especially loved Miss Adelaide’s outfits and her Hot Box Club costumes, in particular the one she wore for Bushel and a Peck – it was sparkly and gorgeous; it was exactly what I picture when I think of showgirls, very Gatsby-esque. The ensemble costumes for Take Back Your Mink were also gorgeous, and I loved that dance number!

Blythe Wilson (centre) as Miss Adelaide with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Aaaah, there is so much I could say about this show but I think I will leave it here. All I can really say it that if you get a chance to Guys and Dolls in Stratford, GO! It’s on until October 29.