Thanks to Fox Animation Studios, I grew up with the name Anastasia never far from my lips. My video copy of the 1997 animation Anastasia, based on the urban legend surrounding the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, was long ago worn out by back to back viewings of the magical musical. Upon reflection, it is unfortunate that the historical story I fell in love with as a child was a misleading piece of Russian history and, although Anastasia is Don Bluth’s highest grossing film to date, it was criticised for its “offensive depiction” of the Grand Duchess in a “sugar-coated” reworking of her story. In my experience, this film is socially overshadowed by the works of Disney and as a result of this it is largely overlooked by the public.
Having discussed Anastasia with several friends, I recently purchased the soundtrack of the animated film. This soundtrack contains all the songs featured in the film and a selection of the beautiful score composed by David Newman. Songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty received recognition for their work in the form of nominations for ‘Best Original Song’ at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes however in both cases Titanic’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ proved to be victorious.
Whilst rediscovering the soundtrack of Anastasia, it occurred to me – as it has to many others – that an animation with a soundtrack as distinctive and strong as this one could have the potential of becoming a fantastic theatre show. Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Aladdin have all made successful animation to stage show transformations and Frozen is the latest animation reported likely to be developed into a stage production.
In 2012 it was reported that Anastasia – A New Musical was in the pipeline but with two years surpassing the latest update, has this project been abandoned? With the success of the previously mentioned shows, is there space for another musical based on an animation? Judging from my research, the theatre community’s answer to the latter is a resounding yes. All we can do is sit and wait. And listen to the Anastasia soundtrack on repeat.