“What dream holds the key to your heart?”
I may be the wrong target audience for Anastasia, currently doing decent business on Broadway, being 18 when the film came out and never having made the effort to see it since. And I have to say the prospect of seeing the musical treatment fills me with even less enthusiasm, having now listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
Composed by the seemingly tireless Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, it is a relentlessly chirpy and traditional score that didn’t excite me for one Cossack-kicking moment (and given the number of tracks here, it is a substantial moment). Its Russian influences are worn so heavily they drag down much of the first half, a lack of subtlety that is carried through with real consistency.
The first time you hear the wall of choral voices, it is powerfully done but they are fatally overused in so many songs that the heart sinks when they strike up once again, robbing so many songs of the nuance they could otherwise possess (‘Stay I Pray You’ is the perfect case in point here). And so little sense of real character comes through either Christy Altomare’s title character of Derek Klena as her love interest, simpering being the order of the day.
Rare highlights come with Mary Beth Peil’s aching ‘Close the Door’ and getting to hear Ramin Karimloo (even if he deserves stronger material). But by and large, it’s hard not to feel that the rest of the Romanovs are the lucky ones here…