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Lila Coogan (Anya) in the National Tour of Anastasia. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.

Anastasia Delights with a Grown-Up Take on the Animated Film

The Broadway musical Anastasia, playing at the Buell Theatre August 7-18, offers a fresh, grown-up version of the story.

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The Broadway musical Anastasia, which kicked off its second national tour debut in Denver at the Buell Theatre on August 7, is a sight to be seen.

Inspired by the beloved 1997 animated film, Anastasia is based on the true story of the Romanov family—the last imperial dynasty to rule Russia—and the youngest Romanov daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, who was believed to have survived the massacre of her family.

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The storyline of this production plays off of the myth of Anastasia’s survival and is a bit more grown-up than the 1997 movie, ditching magical elements for more historical accuracies. The story follows a young, amnesiac girl named Anya (played by Lila Coogan) on her journey to discover her past and create her future. Along the way she meets con man Dmitry (Stephen Brower) and ex-aristocrat Vlad (Edward Staudenmayer), who ultimately end up helping her find her true identity.

Lila Coogan (Anya), Stephen Brower (Dmitry) and the company of the National Tour of Anastasia. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

The show is visually stunning, taking viewers from the Russian Empire of Saint Petersburg in 1906, 1917, and 1927, to the euphoria of Paris in 1927. A heavy use of animated displays set the scene, while elaborate costumes dazzle as the characters sing and dance across the stage.

Featuring 16 original Broadway tunes along with six beloved songs from the 1997 animated film, including “Once Upon a December,” “Learn to Do It,” and “Journey to the Past,” the music brings feelings of nostalgia along with a fresh, more grown-up perspective to the tale. Anya’s exquisite rendition of “Journey to the Past” (sung by Lila Coogan) is a breathtaking end to Act 1, followed by the crowd-pleasing number “The Countess and the Common Man” (sung by Edward Staudenmayer and Tari Kelly) in Act 2, which will leave theatergoers laughing at the edge of their seats.

All in all, Anastasia delights the audience with a spectacular performance. It offers something new for audiences young and old, while still paying homage to the original story.

Need to Know: Anastasia is on stage at the Buell Theatre, August 7-18. Tickets, starting at $45, can be purchased online. The production, which runs nearly two-and-a-half hours with an intermission, is recommended for age seven and up; however, the show may seem a bit long for young viewers. Keep in mind that the show does contain theatrical haze, strobe lights, gunshot sound effects, and vapor e-cigarettes.

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