Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and the cast of ANASTASIA, Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017

By Randy Gener

Book by Terrence McNally, Music by Stephen Flaherty & Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street

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NEW YORK CITY |  This week, Broadway’s ANASTASIA got love from the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards, which handed it 13 nominations (as opposed to HELLO, DOLLY’s wimpy 10).  Today, the heat goes on. With intensity. With anticipation. With the excitement of the possibility of a future life beyond Broadway.

What raised the stakes? The Drama Desk Awards announced this morning a bevy of theater award nominations, and the battle royale between ANASTASIA and Bette Midler‘s HELLO, DOLLY! got tighter. At Feinstein’s/54 Below, stars Laura Benanti (SHE LOVES ME and GYPSY) and Javier Muñoz (HAMILTON and IN THE HEIGHTS) declared that in terms of the number of nominations received these two Broadway shows are now neck-and-neck.

Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and the cast of ANASTASIA

HELLO, DOLLY! got 10 nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Play. With 9 nominations, including Outstanding Musical, ANASTASIA is one nomination shy of creating a tie.  Granted that these two shows belong to two different major categories (revivals vs. original), but the numbers do not lie, and The l. Check this out:

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Christy Altomare, Anastasia
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity, The New Group
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Laura Osnes, Bandstand

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos, Lincoln Center Theater
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia
Nora Schell, Spamilton

Does this mean that HELLO, DOLLY! will likely trounce ANASTASIA come May 8 — when the Outer Critics Circle announce the winners, with the presentation of the prizes to be made at a gala reception at Sardi’s on May 25?  So far, that’s not likely, because the numbers and the tastes of the nominators also tell otherwise.

Hello, Dolly! Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Over there at the Drama Desk Awards, the nominators are wishy-washy and can’t decide on what they like.  Other nominated shows hover around the 7 to 9 range, not statistically significant when compared to ANASTASIA and HELLO, DOLLY!  Check out the rest of the nominations tally:


In any case, iCultWorld opines that in the longer run, the expertly crafted ANASTASIA will fare better on the road and in the pop-culture imagination.  Bette Midler is nice, but it’s not likely that she could perform HELLO, DOLLY! past its limited engagement this spring. And she ain’t gonna be going on a national tour anytime soon.

ANASTASIA, which officially opened on April 24, 2017 at the Broadhurst Theatre, showcases its own sterling pedigrees, with Tony Award nominee Ramin Karimloo performing opposite Christy Altomare who portrays Anastasia.

Ramin returned to Broadway following his breakout, acclaimed performance as Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLES. The creators of ANASTASIA are a top-rated bunch. The new musical reunites the Tony Award-winning writers of the Broadway classic RAGTIME: book writer Terrence McNally, composer Stephen Flaherty, and lyricist Lynn Ahrens. Anastasia features direction by Darko Tresnjak, Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER and choreography by Peggy Hickey.

From the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, the new musical, ANASTASIA, is the romantic, adventure-filled story of a brave young woman attempting to discover the mystery of her past.

Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and the cast of ANASTASIA, Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017
Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and the cast of ANASTASIA, Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017

The new musical is inspired by the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Pictures. ANASTASIA features beloved songs from the 1997 film, including Ahrens and Flaherty’s Oscar-nominated “Journey to the Past,” as well as an entirely new score from the Tony Award-winning team.

Before landing on Broadway, the musical recently completed a sold-out, record breaking world premiere engagement at Hartford Stage in CT.

Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and the cast of ANASTASIA, Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017

In an interview, the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Ahrens and Flaherty revealed their vision for their new musical and open up about the challenges they faced.

How did they begin adapting and expanding the animated version of ANASTASIA for the stage? Ahrens said, “The first thing we wanted to do was write a whole original score, and we wanted to take some of the songs that we love that we wrote back then and put them onstage, but in a new way — re-position them, or rewrite them in some way. We really wanted to approach the show from a different musical vantage point: a little more sophisticated, more far-reaching, more political.”

Flaherty agrees: “I remember the day clearly where we were in an Au Bon Pain in New York City as we were working on the film, and somebody just throws out this notion, ‘What if Rasputin just rises from the dead and is accompanied by an albino bat!?’ And at that moment in time you realize, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be that. It’s going to move over that way,’ and it’s out of the blue. But you’re a hired gun working in Hollywood, doing the best you can to write a beautiful score, but not having control over your destiny. So we wanted to use the film and the legend of Anastasia as the jumping off point, but it’s really an original musical dealing with more of the history. Terrence McNally came on board, which is thrilling because I don’t think he was interested in just doing the film and putting it right up on a stage.”

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