Veronica Stern (Anya) and Willem Butler (Dmitri) in the North American Tour of "Anastasia." | Photo: Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made

There’s nothing better than being absorbed into the make-believe world of a big musical theater production to make a great escape as all the troubles of real life fade right into the background for a few hours — and last week’s Broadway in Santa Barbara production of Anastasia at The Granada Theatre did just that quite nicely. 

Willem Butler (Dmitry), Veronica Stern (Anya), and Bryan Seastrom (Vlad) in the North American Tour of Anastasia | Photo: Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made

Inspired by legends of the Romanov family and a whole host of beloved films, the musical Anastasia takes us on a journey from the final days of the Russian Empire to the shady excitement of Paris in the 1920s, where a young woman, Anya (played by Veronica Stern, with a beautiful voice and an aura that reminded me of a young Meghan Markle) is on a quest to uncover the mysteries of her past. From “In My Dreams,” “Journey to the Past,” “Once Upon a December,” and “Everything to Win,” Anya’s pursuit of the truth provides the spine of the show, and the audience roots for her every step and kick and turn of the way. 

The sets and costumes are beautiful (and particularly impressive for a touring company), the songs are catchy from the get-go, and the two men who accompany Anya on her journey — a charming and somehow trustworthy con man (Willem Butler as Dimitry) and a lovable, less trustworthy ex-aristocrat (Bryan Seastrom as Vlad) — add some great comic energy and pure silliness and fun to an altogether entertaining show that’s perfectly suitable for the whole family to enjoy.

Veronica Stern (Anya) and The Company of the North American Tour of Anastasia | Photo: Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made


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