• Penny Neef

Broadway in Norfolk is Back


The Company of The North American Tour of ANASTASIA - Photo by Jeremy Daniel


Words by Penny Neef. Images courtesy of Seven Venues.


Who doesn’t love a good love story or a good musical or a LIVE performance? There will be real people on the stage, singing and dancing their hearts out for everyone in the audience. There will be a real, live audience. Can you tell how excited I am?


Broadway in Norfolk is back with a series of live Broadway shows at Chrysler Hall. This season kicks off with the Norfolk premiere of Anastasia from Friday, November 19 through Sunday, November 21.


Anastasia is inspired by the 1956 film starring film legends Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes and Yul Brynner, and the 1997 animated film by Fox Animation Studios, with the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Bernadette Peters, and Kelsey Grammer.


Kyla Stone (Anya) in The North American Tour of ANASTASIA - Photo by Jeremy Daniel


Anastasia, the Broadway musical, was created by the Tony Award-winning team of the Broadway classic Ragtime. They took the story of the youngest of the Romanov sisters, Grand Duchess Anastasia, and turned it into a what if. What if Anastasia was the only survivor of the Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918? What if she grew up not remembering what had happened to her family, but longing to find her past and her place in the world?


Anastasia debuted on Broadway in 2017 and ran for two years. The national tour began in October, as theaters across the country started opening up.


I spoke to the delightful Madeline Raube, who plays Countess Lily. She auditioned for the part in early 2020. We all know what happened shortly after. Raube left New York to live with her family, and work from home in customer service during the pandemic. She is beyond thrilled to be on her first national tour after graduating with a degree in Musical Theater from NYU, auditioning, working five part-time jobs, and riding out the pandemic.


Marley Sophia (Little Anastasia) and Gerri Weagraff (Dowager Empress) in The North American Tour of ANASTASIA - Photo by Jeremy Daniel


Raube says this is “not just a princess story”. Anastasia, played by Kyla Stone, the first black actress to play Anastasia, is strong, confident and feisty, searching for her place in the world and discovering who she really is along the way. There is romance, mystery and adventure as Anastasia recruits the help of a shady con men and a “loveable” ex-aristocrat to find her past and what family is left.


The music and the production are “lavish”. Anastasia, who only knows herself as Anya, goes from drab Communist Russia to the glorious Paris of the 1920’s. Raube’s character, Countess Lily, offers some comic relief and “a party on the stage every night.”


Anastasia is the perfect show to come back to live theater in Norfolk. The story is universal. The show is great for all ages. There is a “sweeping score, gorgeous designs and costumes, big dance numbers, romance and adventure.”


Raube says she is “so grateful to be on a stage in front of a live audience.” The cast can feel the energy from the seats. They get emotional every single night for the last bow.


I expect I will be getting emotional too. Welcome back to musical theater. Welcome back to almost normal. What a fantastic way to start the holidays in 2021.


For more information and to purchase tickets to Anastasia, go to

https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/anastasia


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