Interview with Anastasia star Christy Altomare
Christy Altomare is currently starring in the title role of the Broadway premiere of Anastasia at the Broadhurst Theatre. She has been honored with both a 2017 Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for her efforts as the legendary Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia.
She previously starred on Broadway as Sophie Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and also starred as Wendla in the First National Tour of Spring Awakening. She made her off-Broadway debut as Sue Snell in the 2012 MCC Theater revival of Carrie.
We caught up with Christy to talk about bringing the much-loved character of Anastasia to life on stage eight times a week...
Thomas Hayden Millward: How does it feel to be back on Broadway and headlining in the title role of Anastasia?
Christy Altomare: I feel so grateful. As an actress it has been my dream to originate a role on Broadway. I never could have dreamed the response and the love that I feel from each audience and the feeling of responsibility to honor the humanness and beauty of Anya's journey.
THM: I, like so many, am a big fan of the 1997 animated movie “Anastasia.” In what ways do you feel this musical adaptation stands out in comparison to previous (and ongoing) Broadway stage adaptations of animated classics?
CA: Our show is inspired by the animated movie. Not a direct adaptation. It is a new original version realized for the stage. Our creative team has incorporated more of the real life history that our story was based on - along with inspiration from both films created about it. Most of our score is brand new. The script is original for the stage as well. However, if you were a fan of the animated film, our show contains 5 songs from it and you might spot Anya's blue dress in Act 2 at the ballet.
THM: Which elements of the show would you say are historically accurate and which are based in fairytale?
CA: The element of time period. Linda Cho has done a fantastic job creating beautiful costumes that span from late 1800's Russia to 1920's Paris. The same goes for the set and projection design. The story also draws more of a light towards communist Russia with our protagonist Gleb, a soldier for the new Russian regime. The Romanov family unit is also accurately depicted - there is a moment that hints to young brother Alexi's hemophilia.
THM: My favorite scene in the show is the “Once Upon a December” musical number, which features those stunning, ghostly projections, which complement the music, costumes and choreography so magnificently. The effect is as haunting as it is beautiful. Which is your favorite scene to perform and why?
CA: I love "Once upon a December" too! My favorite part in that scene is when I am reaching out because I sense something I can't see and I end up dancing around my ghostly father not being aware he is there and when his ghost body leaves my side I can feel this odd sadness that he has left me. I think it is a beautiful piece of choreography. But I would have to say my favorite part to perform is the "In My Dreams" scene into song. It is the first moment the audience finds out about the history and inner desires of Anya. It is also the first time Anya meets Dmitry and Vlad. I think [lyricist] Lynn [Ahrens], [composer] Stephen [Flaherty], and [book writer] Terrence [McNally] created an incredible piece of musical theatre here. I am so excited to go through Anya's range of emotions during this part of the show.
THM: I couldn’t help but notice a large (and very vocal) contingent of female teenagers in the audience the night I attended. Do you feel this demographic will ensure Anastasia’s longevity for years to come?
CA: I think this show touches the soul. It is heartwarming and genuine. We see ourselves in these characters. I think Anya's journey hits to the core of what it is we all want. To find out who we are. I believe this story needs to be told. I hope it continues to inspire and warm generations of theatregoers for years and years to come!