CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Anastasia Broadway | Alexander Dodge Scenic Design

www.livedesignonline.com/theatre: It’s a rumor, a legend, a mystery—the biggest con in history. Written by Terrence McNally with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Anastasia explores the wishful theory that one daughter survived the mass murder of the Romanov family after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918. Inspired by the 1956 film and 1997 animated film, the musical focuses on Anya, an amnesiac orphan, who falls in with two con men. As they train her to impersonate the youngest daughter of the deceased tsar, they begin to wonder if she may actually be the Grand Duchess Anastasia herself.

4 comments:

Sophie Nakai said...

I have wanted to see this show for so long and hearing how the design was realized is super cool. I think that their original concept for the set is super cool and had it been able to be done, would have looked super amazing with the rest of the musical. I did not realize that there were more than 30 scene changes. That's really insane. With all the challenges they faced I think the set and all the tech aspects ended up amazing and everything works together so well. I think that their use of a turntable set is really cool and that it does help the designers solve a lot of the problems with having so many changes. I am really glad they decided to stick with the inspiration of the animated movie and kept with that theme because I think that the animated movie is amazing and has so many good choices that if they had changed too much, the entire story would be different.

Sidney Rubinowicz said...

This article caught my eye because I grew up with the 1997 film version of Anastasia. I was mesmerized by the beautiful score and shimmering animations, so I would always have it playing on DVD, and before that, VHS. When I found out that it was in production, I was ecstatic. I instantly began to envision the flowing ball gowns and dream-like quality of the dozens of settings. This may seem insignificant, but it is something that most audience members familiar with the movie will do. This poses a major challenge to the scenic designer, who wants to satisfy preconceived expectations, while implementing their own originality. Another obstacle is the multitude of locations. The designer chose to utilize a significant amount of media, through projections, to facilitate the process in an attainable manner. Turntables also allowed for smooth scenic transitions that also contributed to the theme of rotating figures in music boxes (an essential motif in the story). I appreciate this subtle symbolism that is not only functional, but also representative.

Brandy Zhang said...

Anastasia is arguably one of the most stunning shows I have ever seen. I watched Anastasia in a sort of accidental way. My friends and I were in the city during spring break. Having done all the school work, we decided to take a stroll around the midtown/broadway area, where we happened to stumble across the tickets for sale for the previews of Anastasia. Not knowing anything about the theatre production of this famous story, we bought the tickets for the evening show that night our of impulse. IT WAS THE BEST DECISION I HAD MADE IN A LONG TIME. The scenics were absolutely beautiful. The designers were able to combine traditional scenery with media to create an almost surreally realistic world for the audience to peak into. The first scene in the tsar's castle surprised the audience right off the bat with the intricate build of the physical set, while the animation of royalties dancing projected on the set added dimension to the space. Other scenes, such as the streets in Petersburg, the bolshevik government's office, the train to Paris and so on are all so detailed and accurate to the time. It was a feast to the eyes of the audience, on top of the flawless performance of Chrissy Altomare as Anastasia. I was so glad to have seen the show even though I did not plan on it at first. Every aspect of this production can be described as stunning and mesmerising. I hope that I can see it again soon some time.

Sammy Williams said...

I saw Anastasia on Broadway for my birthday this year. I grew up watching the movie all the time, and I was so excited to see it brought to the stage. The set definitely retained its “children’s adventure story” vibe, as Alexander Dodge explained. When I saw it, I actually thought the projections and media walls added to that part of the show (which I now know was the goal). The media walls were an efficient way for the designers to hit every location that they needed to for the plot, and I was glad they incorporated them in a way that did not come off as cheesy or unrealistic. I think their approach at keeping a cinematic theme was very creative, and I did see it translate to the show on stage, specifically in the scene in the train car that they discuss in the article. Additionally, it’s interesting to learn how they connected the pieces from Act One to Act Two with similar architecture styles. The set overall was magnificent, and the research and design behind it makes it even more so.