McLean High School
A crown glimmers under the spotlight as a joyful waltz begins. Stunning melodies accompany laughter. BANG! The laughter is replaced by screams, then by silence. The entirety of the royal Romanov family is wiped away in an instant, leaving no survivors... or so it's believed. You'll be "Russian" to Quince Orchard High School to experience their striking take on the classic tale of "Anastasia: The Musical."
With the release of the animated picture Anastasia in 1997, the legend of the lost princess was popularized by a modern audience. The theater play, created by French writer Marcelle Maurette, was originally presented in 1952. A fresh take on the story, Anastasia the Broadway Musical, featuring music by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and book by Terrence McNally, opened in 2017. The drama follows two con men as they seek to pass off a teenage amnesiac named "Anya" as princess Anastasia Romanov, teaching her traditions of the Russian monarchy in order to gain the millions of pounds entrusted to the Romanov family wealth.
The actors consistently kept their intentions and energy focused, conveying both the futility and despondency of Soviet Russia, and the joy and opportunity present in Paris. "Stay, I Pray You" was a chilling number that perfectly encapsulated the actual misery of St. Petersburg. Each ensemble member contributed rich nuances to their work, which added layers to the performance by giving each individual person a distinct history and personality.
Giorgia Dallasta, who played the show's titular heroine, led the cast with emotional depth and impressive vocals developed way beyond her years. Dallasta's utilization of varying physicality demonstrated a significant character evolution. Anya's trembling and tense performance in the first act showcased a nervous girl tortured by her lack of memory. When she was taught the ways of the monarchy as the show progressed, her posture and confidence became markedly graceful, transforming herself from a sickly wanderer to a believable ruler of a kingdom.
Vlad (Hayden Polsky) and Lily (Ava Turley), who lit up the stage through their hilarious and passionate romance, offered much-needed comic relief. The two did a terrific job working together but still shined on their own. Gleb (John Lewis) showcased an impressionable, dynamic portrayal of the antagonist. His remarkable performance was made possible by the clear character work he had put into it, as well as his austere demeanor and euphonious voice. During her solo, The Dowager Empress (Maren Lewis) stood out, especially through her heartfelt tone paired with moving mannerisms. During high-tension moments, Lewis went beyond as she perfectly captured the old age of her character through shaky movements.
The musical was technically superb, especially in terms of the props and lighting of the production. The lighting, executed by Alexa Rosenthal, Maddie Schully, and Coco Mazzarino, was excellent. The show had great attention to detail; as the Romanovs posed for a picture, the lights onstage flickered like the bulb of an early 1900s camera. The use of colored lighting enhanced the narrative. The stage was illuminated in an ominous blue as Anya recalled her family. Striking red lights accompanied the Russian officer Gleb, heightening his sinister presence. Each set piece was embellished with objects from the time period. The play's setting was enhanced by the props, curated by Rae Forth and Marcy Younis. Each item served as a nostalgic recall of the 1920s, the era in which the play is set.
The talented actors, technicians, crew, and company at Quince Orchard High School took the audience through an unforgettable "Journey to the Past." This rendition allowed for their exceptional production of Anastasia to be one for the history books.
Osbourn Park High School
Once upon a December, Quince Orchard High School's production of "Anastasia: The Musical" captured the hearts of all and brought many to tears.
The sorrowful tale of a young Russian princess, Anastasia the Musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, follows the Romanov princess after being orphaned. When a young girl named Anya appears, suffering from amnesia, two men see their ticket to freedom in the girl, jumping at the chance to make her a princess with the joyful song "Learn to Do It". A story of past lives, remembrance, and love, Anastasia the Musical is a timeless story that brings a new meaning to self-discovery.
From the first haunting notes of the orchestra, Quince Orchard High School's production of Anastasia brought new life to a centuries-old legend. With expressive acting, incredible sets, and powerful lights, Anastasia the Musical offers a reward far greater than any money could buy: love. Songs such as "Once Upon a December" and "Stay I Pray You" stirred the hearts of many, with heart-wrenching singing and beautiful orchestral music.
Thrown together by chance, Anya, played by Giorgia Dallasta, and Dmitry, played by Noah Mayfield, were the epitome of star-crossed lovers. Dallasta and Mayfield had clear tension, drawn together from the beginning despite their differences. Throughout the show, Dmitry's consistently drawn to Anya, until finally accepting her as Anastasia when recalling his first memory of the princess ("In a Crowd of Thousands"). Mayfield wonderfully contrasted Dallasta, his mannerisms as Dmitry showing his poverty compared to her royalty. Mayfield's swagger offset Dallasta's noble stride, and their dancing perfectly captured their differences fitting together like a puzzle. Dallasta's singing was heart-rending, with songs such as "In My Dreams" expressing her sadness at not knowing her past. Dallasta brought such intensity to the role of Anastasia that one could easily believe she truly was the long-lost princess.
The Dowager Empress, grandmother to Anastasia and only known survivor of the tragedy, shared her touching story and her grief of losing everyone she loved. Played by Maren Lewis, the empress was a difficult role to fill, balancing sorrow and humor in one character. Lewis, however, was the perfect fit for the role. From her first appearance in "Once Upon a December" giving Anastasia a music box before leaving for Paris, Lewis' dominated the stage, arguing with the Tsar. Lewis showed the empress growing colder with age, and her air of superiority over others as well as her vulnerability without those she loved.
Vlad Popov, played by Hayden Polsky, was a driving force in the story. Vlad originally came across as a simple character, providing comedic relief in every scene he appeared. As the show continued, however, he's revealed to be far more nuanced, longing for the woman he lost and being the first to believe in Anya. From Polsky's outstanding humor to his self-assured body language, Polsky gave Vlad a personality impeccably balanced with the other characters.
The technical elements of this show were fantastic, with well-researched sets and expressive lighting. The sets were well thought out, with small nods towards wealth when surrounding the royal family, to actual Russian words in the market and train station. Created by Jack Campbell, Matthew Fox, Alina Pinilla, and Ava Shepard, the sets brought the show together wonderfully, with remarkable accuracy in every scene. Usually a lost element, the lighting in this production was amazing. With distinct color changes combined with manual spotlights and details usually missed, the lighting designed by Lexa Rosenthal was a crucial part of an outstanding production.
Whether on a journey to the past or searching for the land of yesterday, you have everything to win with Quince Orchard's "Anastasia: The Musical!"