By Ruby Ahdoot, St. Stephens & St. Agnes School
Heritage High School’s production of the musical Anastasia, like its second act location, Paris, “holds the key (to your heart).” This weekend, the audience was transported from the doomed Russian Empire to a whimsical Paris by a charismatic cast and creative technical elements.
The music and lyrics of Anastasia were written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, while the book is by Terrence McNally. The musical, adapted from the 1997 animated movie, Anastasia, follows the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who is rumored to have escaped her family’s execution. The show had its debut on Broadway in April 2017 and has since expanded worldwide.
At Heritage High School, the title role, Anastasia, was played by Emma Healy. Healy made clear character choices and added new vocal riffs, which brought individuality to her role. Her convincing chemistry with the male lead, Dmitry, was highlighted during their duet, “In a Crowd of Thousands.” Dmitry, played by Jonathan Kirkpatrick, effectively portrayed his charming, easy-going character with strong, clear vocals. His posture conveyed the character’s relaxed mood as he was often seen leaning on various set-pieces. Beau Dolan, who portrayed Dmitry’s fellow conman, Vlad Popov, constantly reflected the playfulness of his role. His relationship with Dmitry made it seem as if they had known each other for a long time. Another stand-out performance was from Tyler Kaplan, who played Gleb Vaganov. Gleb had clear, powerful vocals, which were emphasized in his performance of “Still.” He also created one of the most suspenseful moments of the show when he held a gun to Anastasia. The
whole audience held their breath as they waited for Gleb and Anya’s next moves.
The ensemble was strong and energetic. They were able to move efficiently together, which was featured when they moved the “train” to Paris. Each ensemble member had a role in this process and the result was seamless motion. Many technical aspects were used to enhance the story-telling elements, including the bluish-gray lighting during Anastasia’s memories. This lighting also helped to create a depth of field on stage. The use of set, such as the change of banners when changing locations, helped to move the story along. The choreography during the ballet number was delicate and impressive, and was particularly impressive during “Land of Yesterday,” a song performed by supporting player Countess Lily and the ensemble. Countess Lily, played by Mia Sirinsky, shone with powerful vocals and strong dancing skills.
With “one step at a time,” Heritage High School was able to perform a successful, energetic, dramatic, and exciting musical show. Bravo!
[This review of the April 29performance of Anastasia at Heritage High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]