The 1997 animated musical “Anastasia” will be adapted for the stage. Set to debut in May 2016 at the Hartford Stage, the new adaptation will feature a mixture of new and old songs by original collaborators lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty working with a book by Terrence McNally.
The animated version (directed by Don Bluth “An American Tail”) features the Oscar-nominated song “Journey to the Past” and the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Angela Lansbury, and Bernadette Peters. And though Anastasia is often thought to be a Disney princess, the Mouse was not involved with this film. (Though Bluth did work for Disney earlier in his career).
From the theater’s website:
From Darko Tresnjak—2014 Tony Award winner for Best Director of a Musical for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder—and the Tony Award-winning writers of the Broadway classic Ragtime, the new musical 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 adaptation is “Inspired by the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Pictures.” In addition to the animated film, Fox produced a 1956 live action film starring Ingrid Bergman. (No talking bat in that version). Both films were inspired by the idea that the youngest daughter of Nicholas II survived after the Czar, his wife, and their five children were thought to be killed in 1918. Many wanted to believe the story of an Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the Grand Duchess.
However, modern DNA analysis determined that none of the children survived. But the idea that a lost princess escaped still captures the imagination. Do we still want to believe in fairy tales? Or was it just Bartok the bat that made the film a success? Or the catchy musical numbers?
“Anastasia” is scheduled to run from May 12 – June 12, 2016.