Black Maskers conclude year with Disney musical ‘Anastasia’


Photo by Annyee Foo

Junior Rushi Jain paints the set of Anastasia.

The Black Maskers Drama Club is preparing to put on their spring production of Anastasia, a musical based on the animated movie of the same name. Both follow the theory that Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna was the sole survivor of the Romanov Massacre, an event led by Bolshevik revolutionaries during the Russian Civil War. Anastasia was the last remaining remember of the Romanov family.

The musical was first produced on Broadway nearly 20 years after the release of the Disney movie following the same main storyline, except with slight differences. The musical soundtrack has 17 songs; only six were retained for the original movie.

As opposed to having mystical and fantasy elements, the musical sticks more to the historical events of the time. For instance, the notable villain and dark sorcerer Rasputin in the film is replaced by the character Gleb Vaganov, an extreme revolutionary devoted to achieving a communist Russia, in the musical.  Both characters’ goals are to kill Anastasia.

Production for the Black Maskers’ musical began at the end of January, with open auditions taking place on Jan. 23 and 24, and callbacks for potential actors happening on January 26. The cast of the show is composed of six principal roles, a plethora of supporting characters and a large ensemble cast. Actors playing supporting characters also appear in the ensemble, allowing for a wide range of participation for students interested in acting.

Cast members have daily rehearsals after school where they engage in music 

run-throughs to practice and memorize songs, lines and movements on stage.

Anastasia is senior Alex Dugan’s second time acting in a Black Maskers production.

“I’m in the ensemble playing a male Russian townsperson, the smoker, a government official [and various other characters]… I think I’m doing okay in cast, I can easily bring people together and have a fun time with anyone,” Dugan said.

Those who are not participating in an acting role still have various opportunities to engage in the show by joining any of 11 crews the club has to offer. Freshman Cal Murphy is on Set Construction and Sound (Set Con), which are both heavy time commitment crews.

“For Set Con there’s a lot of drilling and heavy lifting, especially when we make the platform and windows. For sound, we have mic actors, do mic changes and fix anything that breaks or dies,” Murphy said.

Other crews include Running, which involve moving larger set pieces on and off stage during blackouts in preparation for the next scene. This crew is more of a low commitment up until Tech Week (where the show is rehearsed until 10 p.m.) and show nights. 

Senior Parker Rock is a member of the crew and is most thrilled to see the attire the characters wear in the show, as there are many lavish scenes that take place in settings like a ballroom.

“I’m so excited for the costumes! They were described really detailed at the design meeting and seemed so cool,” Rock said.

Outside of acting, and crews, students also had the opportunity to be in the Pit Orchestra, which is conducted and under the direction of Instrumental Music teacher Dr. Perry. Auditions to be in the ensemble began on March 1, with the list of members being finalized a week later. 

For those interested in seeing Anastasia at RM, there will be four show nights on April 14, 15, 21 and 22. Tickets will be sold both online for a price of seven dollars for students, and 15 dollars for adults. There is an additional one dollar fee to both prices for purchasing tickets at the door. All show times will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

Rock encourages students and anyone within the RM community to watch the show due to the amount of dedication that has been put into making it happen.

“So many people have worked so hard on it! It’s a really interesting story and there’s so much talent. It’s such a fun show,” she said.

Murphy shares similar sentiments, while also wanting the musical Anastasia to get more recognition itself. 

“We have so many talented actors and such a beautiful set, and it’s going to be an amazing show. Anastasia is underrated as a musical, and I think everyone should get to experience it in person,” she said.