Cast Announced for Ahrens and Flaherty's Stage Anastasia

News   Cast Announced for Ahrens and Flaherty's Stage Anastasia
 
Darko Tresnjak is directing the world premiere at Hartford Stage.
Christy Altomare
Christy Altomare

The stage adaptation of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's 1997 animated feature Anastasia has announced lead casting for its world premiere May 12-June 12 at Hartford Stage.

Christy Altomare (Mamma Mia!) will star in the title role. Derek Klena (Bridges of Madison County) will play her love interest Dmitry.

The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna will be played by Mary Beth Peil, along with Manoel Felciano as Gleb, John Bolton as Vlad, Caroline O'Connor as Lily and Nicole Scimeca as Young Anya. The ensemble features Lauren Blackman, James Brown III, Max Clayton, Janet Dickinson, Constantine Germanacos, Rayanne Gonzales, Ken Krugman, Kevin Ligon, Alida Michal, Shina Ann Morris, Kevin Munhall, Molly Rushing, Johnny Stellard and Samantha Sturm, plus swing performers Maxwell Carmel, Katherine McLellan and Riley Briggs.

Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at Harford Stage and on Broadway), who is artistic director at Hartford Stage, has been developing the stage production in collaboration with the writing team for the past two years.

The stage musical incorporates characters not seen in the film. In a March 1 interview with the Journal Inquirer of Connecticut, Tresnjak said, "We’ve kept, I think, six songs from the movie, but there are 16 new numbers. We’ve kept the best parts of the animated movie, but it really is a new musical."

He described their process thus: "One of the best moments was that I talked about how the show takes place in St. Petersburg and Paris and bridges figure so prominently in the story in those two cities. Lynn was like, 'Hmm,' and the next morning she showed up with a song called 'Crossing a Bridge.' She heard what I said and didn’t even know she was going to do it, but she came up with lyrics for a song and it’s wonderful and it’s great to be a part of that."

The remaining film songs have been extensively revised and rewritten for the stage.

The stage production has a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally (The VisitRagtime, Mothers and Sons). Stage Entertainment is shepherding the stage musical from the songwriting team behind Ragtime and Once On This Island. The organization also brought Ahrens and Flaherty's Rocky to Broadway.

While no plans for Anastasia have been announced beyond the Hartford run, the Tony-winning musical Gent's Guide also premiered at Hartford as part of its pre-Broadway regional development. 

According to Hartford Stage, "Anastasia is the romantic and rousing story of one brave young woman attempting to discover the mystery of her past while finding a place for herself in the rapidly changing world of a new century. With a rich and sweeping musical score that evokes the opulence of Russian aristocracy and the energy of Paris street life, Anastasia is the ultimate journey of a woman caught between the pull of the past and the promise of the future."

The film adaptation featured Meg Ryan voicing Anastasia when she wasn't singing, and Broadway's Liz Callaway (Baby, Miss Saigon) sang the songs. "Journey to the Past" was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song. The song was also Golden Globe Award-nominated, as was "Once Upon a December."

In addition to the Best Song Academy Award nomination, the picture was Oscar-nominated for Best Music — Original Musical or Comedy Score (naming Ahrens, Flaherty and David Newman).

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