One of the most anxiously awaited summer theater events, the Theatre Palisades Youth’s production of Anastasia, will open on Friday, July 21, and run select evenings and matinees through Sunday, July 30.
Anastasia is a family-friendly musical that features a wide variety of talented young actors, dancers and aerial silk artists. This editor was treated to a sneak preview and the performance is magical and joyous. The costuming is lovely, and the set functions to take us from a Russian ballroom to the streets of Paris.
The well-known story follows the legend of the Russian princess, Anastasia, whose family was killed by communist revolutionaries in 1918, when she was still young.
Anastasia escaped her family’s murder but hit her head while running away, causing her to lose all her memories of being a princess. Grown up, she goes by Anya.
Two clever conmen, Dmitry and Vlad, are searching for a girl that is willing to pretend to be the lost princess, in order to receive a reward from Anastasia’s grandmother.
When the two see Anya, who is a street sweeper, they believe they can convince her to take the role. They offer to take her to Paris to meet her grandmother, where the two men would receive a substantial reward for recovering a long-lost member of the royal family.
Director Lara Ganz guides her cast of more than 40 youth, ages 7 to 17, in an exceptional production of this show.
She writes in director’s notes that the story resonates with the youth, because of the emphasis on home, love and family.
“Like so many around the world today, who never give up hope, even under unimaginable circumstances of loss, despair and tragedy, we see the resilient spirit of the Russian people,” Ganz said. “These numbers represent the plight of many people around the globe who risk death to escape oppression, in pursuit of a new HOME – one where the promise of basic human rights and freedom will be recognized.”
With a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, this 60-minjute musical adaption is of the musical that opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in 2017 and closed two years later.
Local youth performing, many of whom are double and triple cast in major roles, include Zoe Baserga-Rudd, Lily Beck, Olive Boog, Kieran and Quinn Calof, Olivia Clark, Mary Kate Culbertson, Mia Faragalla, Lana Fowlks, Callum and Miereille Ganz, Luca Gazzerra-Ferro, Sabrina Hall, Sophia Harelik, Liam Irving, Vivienne Kooker, Harlow Levin, Molly Levitt, Jaya Lewis, Olivia Malayil, Emma McCarthy, Berlin McCoy, Anna Moore, Tristan Oles, Annalise O’Riordan, Billie Rance, Violet Sanford, Matthew Schacter, Colin Sexton, Scarlett Shelton, Bella Smith, Emma Stephans, Morgan Stoler, Sutton Van Laningham, Elias and John Von Oeyen and Natalie Wallin.
CTN is always amazed by Ganz. She manages to take the energy of 40 youth and channels it into a top-quality production. And she doesn’t make it easy on herself—in order to give every youth a chance to “star” all roles are double and triple cast. Someone who might have a lead in one performance is part of the ensemble in a different show.
The variety of leads also makes it fun for audience goers, because each youth gives a role a different look – and all are full of emotion and earnestness.
Performances begin at 7 p.m. Friday July 21 and end on Sunday July 30 at 1 p.m. at the Pierson Playhouse 941 Temescal Canyon Road. Additional performances are Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23, at 1 and 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 27 and 28, showtime is 7 p.m. On Saturday, July 29, there are shows at 11.m., 2 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $24, and $17 for youth and can be purchased online at theatrepalisdes.org/youth or call the box office (310) 454-1970.
The musical director for this TPY show is Nathan Heldman; and choreographers at this highly entertaining production include Rebecca Brancato Barragan, Mark Marchillo and Aaron Jung.
If a resident has never gone to a Theatre Youth Production, the price and location are right, and the pure joy and pleasure of watching our youth might be one of the highlights of the summer.