I remember back in 1997, eyebrows were raised when 20th Century Fox Studios announced that Angela Lansbury would lend her voice as one of the main voice cast characters for the animated feature ” Anastasia”.
Lansbury, supplying his pipes to Maria Feodorovna Romanov, the Dowager Empress, joined other star talents, including Meg Ryan, Kirsten Dunst, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Andrea Martin and Bernadette Peters, to donate life to the characters. , many of which are based on the historical leading figures of Russia.
Lansbury’s participation in the film project created a buzz in the industry because she was already a beloved and iconic talent under the Disney Studios umbrella after her voice played the animated teapot Mrs. Potts in the blockbuster. from 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast”. as Lansbury – five-time Tony Award winner – singing the title track.
Today, the animated movie “Anastasia” is now owned by Disney Studios, following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s movie vault in March 2019, so the “Anastasia” association of Lansbury has come full circle.
Lansbury also took part in the first reading during planning for the 2012 Broadway production of “Anastasia,” reprising her same role as Empress. However, once the musical opened on Broadway in 2017, it was Mary Beth Peil who glided on stage under the empress’s cape and crown.
The first time I saw the musical “Anastasia” was on the national tour when it stopped for two weeks at the Nederlander Theater in Chicago in March 2019. I found myself both immersed and mesmerized by the magic of this story and the beauty of its delivery. to the audience with a delicate elegance as simple and graceful as the snowflakes that float from the stage.
Broadway in Chicago is once again hosting a national touring series of “Anastasia” at the CIBC Theater, 18 W. Monroe St., through Sunday, September 25. the zeal of Paris in the 1920s, following the odyssey of a young woman following her passion to uncover the mystery of her past and her lineage to the Russian aristocracy with the help of a handsome con man and d a fickle gadfly from exiled society.
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Veronica Stern is cast perfectly as the title character with a pleasing talent Willem Butler as her love interest Dmitry and Ben Edquist giving a wonderful solid and powerful turn as Gleb, the general sent to pursue the resurrected princess. Gerri Weagraff is an accomplished cold contrast as Empress Dowager opposite the energetic, sympathetic and entertaining Madeline Raube as Countess Lily and the added comic relief Bryan Seastrom as the pompous Mr. Vlad.
“Anastasia” features a book by acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally, and the enchanting, lush new score from the creators of the Broadway classic “Ragtime” – Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) – with tour direction by Sarah Hartman , based on the original staging by Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak.
The creative team also includes Peggy Hickey who is the production’s original choreographer with show choreographer Bill Burns, masterful set design by Alexander Dodge and dazzling costume design by Linda Cho paired with perfect lighting design by Donald Holder, sound design by Peter Hylenski sharing all the key moments from the scene. with projection design by Aaron Rhyne.
“Anastasia” began Broadway performances in March 2017 at the Broadhurst Theater and the show sold out on Broadway for over three years before expanding its global reach with touring productions across North America. and in Japan, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Globally, the show has been played over 2,500 times and sold 3.4 million tickets. Additionally, the show has won over 15 major international awards, including Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards and Best New Musical in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Ticket prices range from $27 to $118 with a number of premium tickets available all available at www.BroadwayInChicago.com or www.anastasiathemusical.com or call (312) 977-1700.
Philip Potempa is a journalist, published author and marketing director at Theater at the Center. He can be reached at [email protected].