With non-Equity national tours – those that feature actors who are not members of the union Actors Equity Association – you run the risk of getting a stage full of performers who are straight out of college and seem to still be feeling their way as professionals.
That’s not the case with “Anastasia,” which is at the BJCC Concert Hall as part of Broadway in Birmingham through Sunday. It’s a lush, beautiful production that features performances from recent college graduates who might be on Broadway in no time.
The musical, with book by Terrence McNally and music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, tells the story of Anya, a young woman who may or may not be the princess Anastasia, who may or may not have been killed with the rest of her family, the Romanovs, during the Russian Revolution in 1918.
In the musical, Anya has amnesia, but she falls in with a couple of men trying to pass someone off as Anastasia to receive the massive Romanov fortune. The young Dmitri and his more seasoned cohort, Vlad, take off from St. Petersburg to Paris with Anya, all the while trying to escape the Russian soldier Gleb, who is in pursuit.
The cast is impressive, led by Veronica Stern and Willem Butler as Anya and Dmitri. Their voices are strong and they have an on-stage chemistry that lends to the musical’s authenticity. Bryan Seastrom and Madeline Raube are delightful in the comic roles of Vlad and Lily, and the rest of the ensemble is filled with strong singers and dancers.
It’s all played out in front of impressive projections that bring St. Petersburg and Paris to vivid life.
“Anastasia” may not feature actors you’re aware of, but it’s only a matter of time. Keep the playbill, and take a look at it in a few years. You’ll be able to say you saw them when.
“Anastasia,” presented by Broadway in Birmingham at the BJCC Concert Hall through Oct. 30. Get tickets here.