By Joseph Cervelli
If you are looking for a family musical you can do no wrong than with the overwhelmingly entertaining and exquisite to view “Anastasia” at the Broadhurst.
Based on the hugely successful film the show opens with the revolution overthrowing and murdering the last of the Russian Czars with the exception for the teenage Grand Duchess Anastasia (a sparkling Christy Altomare) and her grandmother the Dowager Empress (a regal Mary Beth Peil). Anastasia suffers from amnesia and she becomes a street sweeper meeting up with two con men (Derek Klena and John Bolton) who are trying to pass off a young woman as the Tsarina to her grandmother now living in Paris for a large amount of money. When they set their eyes on Anya who speaks French (the regal Russians we are told only spoke French) they feel they have a perfect match only to begin to think that she may indeed be the real thing. The three hitch onto a train (a truly fun filled scene) with the anarchist Gleb (excellently played and sung by Ramin Karimloo) pursuing her unsure if he can fulfill his duty of killing off the last of the Romanov’s. You know right from the start that being family entertainment all is going to work out well for them as they arrive safely in Paris. And no spoiler alert that she meets her grandmother who believes she is an imposter until she witnesses something that her granddaughter possess.
Altomare makes a radiant Anastasia and her rendition of the most familiar song from the film “Journey to the Past” is sung beautifully.
Klena whom you know she will eventually fall in love with is dashing and Bolton (“A Christmas Story”) never fails to delight with his lovable antics. For some additional comic relief Caroline O’Connor makes for a daffy vaudevillian like performer as Countess Lily.
While Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens score may not come close to their true masterpiece “Ragtime” it nevertheless is very pleasant and meets the criteria for the show. True that two numbers are reminiscent of “I Remember it Well” and “The Rain in Spain” but they blend in just fine.
Linda Cho’s costumes are especially elegant and, perhaps, the biggest treat is the gorgeously stunning projections by Aaron Rhyne and equally good stets by Alexander Dodge resulting in “oohs” and “ahs” from the largely young audience.
Again director Darko Tresnjak (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”) proves what a marvel he is at seducing the audience (both adults and children) throughout his shows with his ingenuity and Terrence McNally’s book may have some syrupy moments here and there it remains faithful enough to the film.
If you are looking for a more serious musical based on the young woman I would you suggest to listen to the stirringly dramatic score to the short lived “Anya.” However, for a show that will enchant not only the girls in the audience but even some the boys (I overhead one young man asking his friend if he was crying) “Anastasia” is among the best musicals of the season.
PHOTOS: MATTHEW MURPHY
Tickets for “Anastasia” are available at the Broadhurst Theater 235 West 44th Street or by calling 212.239.6200.