The 1990s was the era of the corporate musical when Disney took over the world of Broadway. After the Brit Hits of the 1980s, the musical was less and less in the public consciousness as audiences chose other forms of entertainment over theatre. However, despite the lack of appetite for big musicals, Cameron Mackintosh produced hits such as new musical, Miss Saigon, and revivals of 'Carousel,' 'Oliver!' and 'Oklahoma.' On Broadway, the corporate musical was born with Disney hits such as 'Beauty and the Beast' being transferred from screen to the stage to enormous acclaim and success.
THE HAPPY PRINCE
Music by Stephen Flaherty/Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Debuted at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway on 23rd March, 2017
My Favourite Cast (Original Broadway Cast)
Anya/Princess Anastasia : Christy Altomare
Dmitry : Derek Klena
Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna : Mary Beth Peil
Gleb Vaganov : Ramin Karimloo
Vlad Popov : John Bolton
Countess Lily Malevsky-Malevitch : Caroline O'Connor
THE SHOW & SHOW HISTORY
Based on the 1997 film of the same name, this new musical follows the journey of Anya, a young Russian woman who is desperate to find traces of her past after a traumatic childhood causes her to lose her memory. St Petersburg is buzzing with rumours of the escape of the daughter of the Russian Royal family after their assassination, and she encounters resistance in her search from a suspicious Soviet Officer. But with the help of a dashing conman and his aristocratic friend, she escapes St Petersburg to go to Paris. An epic quest ensues to discover what is at the heart of life - home, love and family - and who she really is.
Alongside the most famous hit from the film, 'Journey to the Past,' the new musical has a number of new heart warming songs written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, such as 'Once upon a December' and 'In a crowd of thousands.' It had its debut at the Hartford Stage, Connecticut, in 2016 before transferring to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway in 2017. 10 years on from the film's original release, the musical continues to inspire audiences with its story of self discovery.
WHY I HEART IT
One of the most recent additions to my favourite musicals, I came across 'Anastasia' on YouTube through music videos of the original cast. Listening to the new Broadway Cast Recording, I was drawn in by the songs and went on to find out more about the story behind it and I fell in love. Although I have yet to see it on stage, I hope that some time in the future I will be able to experience the rumour, the legend and mystery for myself.
SONG IN CONTEXT
'In My Dreams' which is sung by Anya when she stumbles across the auditions that two conmen are holding for the role of the Grand Duchess Anastasia. She sings about the uncertainty and fear that has lead her to lose her memory of the past and the hope and determination she has to find her family. After she sings it, they recruit and train her to play the part of Anastasia to get them out of Russia to Paris.
Concieved and directed by Tom Blackmore
Music and lyrics by Sue Casson
Based on Oscar Wilde's short story,
The Happy Prince
Originally workshopped at Buxton in their
Quest for New Musicals, 1992
My Favourite Cast (Bridewell Theatre, London 1994)
The Happy Prince : John Heriman
The Swallow : Val Weyland
Chorus : Andrew Bolton
Pandora : Sue Casson
SONG IN CONTEXT
'Seamstress' is sung by Pandora, playing the part of a single mother seamstress beyond the city walls of Sans-Souci. As she sews ball gowns for the highest in society, she dreams of visiting balls at the Palace and experiencing the electric atmosphere of a royal event for herself. The swallow plucks the jewel out of the prince's sword hilt, and takes it to her to lighten the burden, sharing the prince's wealth among the poorest within the city walls.
WHY I HEART IT
I grew up watching the VHS of this musical on repeat when it was filmed for posterity at the Bridewell Theatre in 1994, dreaming that one day I would be able to perform in it myself. So I was delighted when in 2012, I was lucky enough to join the cast as Pandora for 20th anniversary tour. The story told through music and a sprinkle of magic speaks to people in ways that change their outlook and make them think differently about the world around them.
THE SHOW & SHOW HISTORY
Based on Oscar Wilde's short story, Sue Casson's The Happy Prince tells the story of how a statue prince and a migrating swallow work together to redeem the poverty of a city. The swallow carries the prince's jewels to the poorest within the city walls - including a seamstress, a writer in need of inspiration and a newspaper seller. Told by a cast of 4, the story is brought to life with narration from the all powerful storyteller, Chorus and aspiring assistant, Pandora, keen to learn the tricks of the theatrical trade.
First workshopped at the Buxton Fringe, as part of their Quest to find new musicals, The Happy Prince has been staged all over the UK. In 2012, it was revived for its 20th anniversary and I was lucky enough to join the cast as Pandora, for Edinburgh Fringes 2012 and 2014 and at the Bridewell Theatre, London and Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival.