When the national tour of “Anastasia” stops in Birmingham this week as part of Broadway in Birmingham, Veronica Stern will be at the helm, portraying Anya, a young woman who sets out to find about her mysterious past in 1920s Paris and Russia.
Based on the 1997 movie, the show bowed on Broadway in 2017, with music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the duo behind “Ragtime.” The score includes “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon a December.”
Stern, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music, answered some questions before hitting the road to Birmingham.
Tell me a bit about your story. Is “Anastasia” your first professional show?
I was born and raised in New York and still live there today. I went to college in Cincinnati at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, (best known as CCM). Before “Anastasia,” I was fortunate enough to be in the ensemble of “Sweeney Todd” at the MUNY in St. Louis and earlier this year I played Marlena in “The Buddy Holly Story” in Florida. In college, I played Hope Cladwell in “Urinetown” in my senior year. It’s all very fun.
How did the role of Anya come up? Had you seen the show before, and was it a role you had wanted to play?
While I was in Florida doing “The Buddy Holly Story,” my agent sent me an appointment for “Anastasia.” I was slightly familiar with the music because Christy Altomare (Broadway’s original Anya) went to my alma mater (CCM), and Stephen Flaherty (composer of “Anastasia”) went to CCM as well. It was never on my radar during college, but I definitely knew “Journey to the Past,” so I was very excited to have the opportunity to audition. As I went through the audition process, I realized how right Anya was for me and it made me really eager for each callback. By my final callback I really wanted it and I’m so glad that the creative team saw something in me.
Are there parts of Anya you personally identify with, that the audience can identify with?
Anya’s story is very universal. I think we are all searching for who we are each day. My hope for those that come to see the show is that they walk away with hope for the future and excitement for what can come if they believe in themselves.
Is touring a chore for you, or is it fun?
Touring is very exciting. Growing up in New York, I only really knew Broadway. The world of touring was introduced to me once I got to college. Getting to see the country (and parts of Canada) is a thrill, and getting to do it while performing in a show that I love makes me feel incredibly lucky. I like doing touristy things in each city, but I also really enjoy walking about trying to find nice coffee shops and understanding how people live in different parts of America (and some parts of Canada).
Have you been to Birmingham before? Anything you’re hoping to do while you’re here?
I have never been to Birmingham before. I am very excited to explore the rich history there. I am also very excited for hopefully warm weather.
“Anastasia,” presented by Broadway in Birmingham Oct. 25-30 at the BJCC Concert Hall. Buy Tickets here. “Anastasia” is a non-Equity tour, meaning cast members are not members of Actors Equity Association.