A young woman in search of her past. A country in the midst of a revolution. Two schemers looking to escape the violence of a new Communist regime. These grand scenarios have the making for an opulent musical filled with drama, intrigue and love. Unfortunately, Anastasia, which opened last week on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre, is as hollow as a set of Russian nesting dolls.
The story of Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Nicholas II, the last Russian czar, has captivated the world since the family’s mysterious assassination in 1918. For years it was rumored that Anastasia survived (though ultimately proven false through DNA testing in 2007) and it is this glimmer of hope that provides inspiration for the musical, which is based on the 1997 animated film.
With a book by Terrence McNally and score by Stephen Flaherty (book) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics), one would hope that Anastasia reached the epic proportions of its source material. But under the anachronistic and often over-stylized direction of Darko Tresnjak, her journey is about as interesting as a bowl of bland beet borscht.