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Backstage at Anastasia

posted on 6/16/2019

It took us a while to find the time to finally do the backstage tour of Anastasia, the Broadway musical. However, on 2nd June we decided to finally do it. 

Anastasia is based on the 1997 movie “Anastasia”. Short history lesson: the Romanov family was brutally killed back in 1918. They had 4 daughters and one son. Their mother sewed diamonds into the corsets of her daughters, which “protected” two of the girls from being shot. One of them was Anastasia. They didn’t find her body for decades and a woman, Anna Anderson, showed up, who really looked like Anastasia and had some characteristics just like her, saying, that she was the lost princess. She had to prove to distant relatives of the Romanovs, that she truly is Anastasia. While Anastasias childhood friend believed her, no one else did. Years after Anna Anderson died; they found another body, which was the body of Anastasia. They found out Maria and her didn’t get shot because of the diamonds, but stabbed. For years they thought she could have escaped and lost her memory. 

However, the musical isn’t that dark but has a happy end. Anastasia survived, but lost her memory. Dimitri helps her to pretend to be Anastasia, which turns out, she really is. 

As we got in, our tour guide would bring us right away onto the stage. I’ve seen Anastasia several times before, so I know what the stage would look like, but still it’s a whole other view and feeling standing on the stage myself. She gave us some information about the screens and the rotary platforms. If you haven’t seen Anastasia yet: They use high-tech screens to give you more of a feeling being somewhere else. During one act, the rotary platforms turn up to 14 times and the fastest they’ve to build a new scene is only 60 seconds! 

The Musical begins with little Anastasia and her Nana (grandma) sitting on her bed, not wanting her grandma to leave. This is, when Anastasia gets the music box of her. The little actress of Anastasia (which is only between 7 and 11) played exactly 3 roles throughout the musical. As Anastasia grows up, the actress embodies the little brother, Alexei Romanov. Between the role of little Anastasia and Alexei, she has a quick change of only 40 seconds.

The first scene is pretty intense. You can see the whole Romanov family dancing with beautiful gowns on and having fun, as they hear an explosion. They tried to flee, but it was too late. Everyone was shot, except for Anastasia, who ran back to get her music box.

Rumors have spread in St. Petersburg or Leningrad, that Anastasia is still living and her grandma would pay a huge reward to anyone who’d bring Anastasia to her. That’s where Dimitri and Vlad come in, trying to prepare girls for the role of Anastasia, so they’d get the money. 

They didn’t find one until Anja comes in, a girl who has lost her memory and only remembers being in the hospital with terrified nurses whispering overhead. That’s when they decided to turn her into Anastasia.

As they start to prepare her and travel to Paris, Anja slowly gets her memory back. She suddenly remembers things they didn’t tell her.

So let me give you some more “insider” information.

The costume design is a dream comes true. The beautiful dress of Anastasias mother weights 39lbs (18kg) and Anastasia’s red dress, you probably know from the advertisements, 33lbs (15kg). Imagine dancing with 39lbs extra. Speaking of Anastasia’s mother: Her crown weights over 2lbs (1kg) and has magnets under it, which means her wig also has magnetics. 

You, of course, want to understand what the protagonists are saying, right? That’s why the protagonists always wear two microphones, just in case one doesn’t work and Dimitri even has three, since his hat is covering one. So he has an extra microphone in his hat. How cool is that, huh?

Since Anastasia is the only musical I know where they change their wigs THAT often, they built the wig area exactly behind the stage, which totally makes sense. Imagine running 3 levels high, changing your wig, run back down and you still have to look beautiful and sing without being out of breath.

Anastasia is a beautiful musical. The songs are magnificent and I ADORE the dresses and would totally give a kidney to try one on. Milan van Waardenburg is the perfect Dimitri and Judith Caspari a wonderful Anja. Both seem so authentic and congenial. The chemistry between both is just right. I can definitely recommend this Musical and even if you can’t watch it, listen to the songs

Source: Scene photos by Stage Entertainment GmbH.