The hit musical Anastasia is now at the Academy of Music

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

The national touring company of the Broadway smash Anastasia is now playing at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music until April 14. Anastasia continues the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia season. The staging, scenery, and projection effects are gorgeous, the entire visual effect of the production is gorgeous, and the costumes from 1920s Paris are gorgeous.  Every girl wants to be a Princess (or in this case, a Grand Duchess). Teenaged girls of every age and gender will love Anastasia. Several men in the audience this night were seen wearing tiaras.


The word Anastasia is from the Greek word meaning Resurrection, which is totally appropriate this Easter season. Interestingly, the Urban Dictionary has much more to say. Anastasia is an unforgettable girl who understands everything about a guy and can cheer him up. She is amazing, perfect, and pretty. That more or less defines Lila Coogan who plays Anastasia/Anya. She fearlessly attacks her complex songs, sailing over the blazing orchestra. Whether she is the shy, modest Anya who has amnesia or the more confident woman who seems to have an uncanny remembrance for many things only Anastasia would know, Ms. Coogan shines as the eponymous heroine.


The two very different men in her life are played by Stephen Brower as Dmitry and Jason Michael Evans as Gleb. While one is good and the other a conflicted good guy who is under the dark influences of Soviet indoctrination, they present the men in Anastasia’s life. Will Dmitry get the girl? Will Gleb follow orders from his commander and kill Anastasia? No spoilers here, but this is a story with a happy ending. Let’s just say the audience applauded – during the performance – this opening night when Anastasia kissed the man she loved.


Joy Franz was the Dowager Empress who survived the Revolution because she was in Paris. Being the great actress that she is, Franz riveted all attention to her every song and scene. After Anastasia, could Joy Franz be persuaded to star in Sunset Boulevard? Keep your fingers crossed. Tari Kelly as Countess Lily brought down the house during her big musical numbers, “Land of Yesterday” and “The Countess and the Common Man.” Great comedic timing, dancing, and singing marked her role as Countess Lily. Her partner in “The Countess and the Common Man” was the very fine Edward Staudenmayer as Vlad.  Staudenmayer brought grace, verve, and an irresistible manly presence to the role of Vlad. He looked terrific in the clothes he wore in Paris.


The Creative Team for this national touring production of Anastasia created a work of art which was simply breathtaking. Even the train used to escape Russia looked like a dream rather than a nightmare. Something as simple as a wooded area became resplendent as it was set in springtime, all cherry blossoms and intoxicatingly beautiful. The scenic projections were world-class, creating train stations, imperial palaces, scenes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, and scenes of Paris in a twinkling of an eye.


Comrades, take your babushkas and everyone else to see this fresh and sparkling production of Anastasia.


Anastasia will be at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia until April 14. For information about Anastasia and other presentations, visit .

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