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Broadway’s next cartoon-turned-musical may not be from Disney

Written by
David Cote

Next month at Hartford Stage previews begin for a new musical called Anastasia. The show opens May 27 and runs through June 19. The backstage talent is impressive: book by veteran playwright Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the production directed by Darko Tresnjak, the man who brought A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder from Hartford to Tony-winning success on Broadway. Exciting newcomer Christy Altomare, pictured, has the title role as an exiled Russian princess trying to find her way in the world.

As for the source material, the musical is based on the 1997 animated film of the same name…which was not released by Disney. Rather, the Twentieth Century Fox movie was directed by Don Bluth (All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail), who worked at Disney early in his career before forging his own path. Ahrens and Flaherty wrote an Oscar-nominated song for the movie, “Journey to the Past,” which they have retained in the new score.

The big question is: Is Anastasia definitely headed for Broadway? A lot of Off Broadway and regional shows call themselves Broadway-bound, but it’s often wishful thinking. There are no dates or venue announced for the Broadway transfer. We assume producers are waiting for reviews to come out in late May. However, that’s one winning creative team, and Tresnjak is one of the best directors working today. Now that Matilda announced its closing come January 1, the Broadway landscape just got more hospitable for a family show about a strong-willed girl trying to survive in a wicked world. If you have time to drive up or take a bus to Connecticut to see the show, go here for tickets and details.

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