SEQUIM — In tandem for the first time, Sequim High School Operetta Club and Ghostlight Productions bring “Anastasia the Musical” to Sequim.
It could be one of Ghostlight’s first high school productions in Washington.
“If we’re not the first, then we’re one of the first,” said music director Mark Lorentzen.
As is tradition, the 56th operetta at the Sequim High School auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave., coincides with the Sequim Irrigation Festival. Shows are at 7 p.m. today through Saturday, May 11-13, and 2 p.m. May 7 and 13.
Tickets are from $12-$18 at shs.sequimschools.org/ or sequimschools.hometown ticketing.com/embed/all.
Anna Pederson, who directed the high school’s senior class play “Puffs,” returns to direct and choreograph the musical, saying operetta club members felt “Anastasia” is “something we could do well.”
“The kids who know theater, they were all ‘yes!’ and knew the soundtrack already,” she said.
A large number of students (new and experienced actors) auditioning was a welcome surprise, Pederson said, and she’s been impressed with the cast and crew’s efforts.
“Many of them do work on their own; they come to me and ask ‘What can I be working on?’” she said. “I’ve never really had students be super-proactive.”
Lead actors even went to coffee with her to talk about their characters.
“It’s just the willingness and care they want to take,” Pederson said.
“Anastasia the Musical” is inspired by the 1997 animated movie while offering another version of the legend of Anastasia Romanov, daughter and Grand Duchess to Tsar Nicholas II.
Gone from the musical are the movie’s more mystical elements, such as an undead Rasputin and Bartok the talking bat, and instead more realistic, historical backdrops of Russia and Paris are highlighted in the early 20th century.
Keaton King, who plays con man Dmitry, said the musical follows the murder of Anastasia’s royal family in Russia. She escapes but is struck with amnesia before rumors begin circulating that she is alive.
Dmitry and his friend Vlad (Adrian Dulfo) concoct a plan to find a girl and present her as Anastasia for money from Anastasia’s grandmother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.
They find Anastasia, or Anya (played by Danika Chen), not knowing her identity, and through their travels to Paris she begins her journey to rediscover herself. They are pursued by a Soviet officer Gleb (Calem Klinger), ordered to stop Anya, who is conflicted by his feelings for her, King said.
“It’s really just a human story of people trying to thrive in an environment that is against them to find home, love and family,” Lorentzen said.
“It’s a beautiful story that does draw some parallels to today.”
Viewers might recognize some of the popular songs on stage from the film, including “Journey to the Past” and “Once upon a December.”
Chen and Keaton said some songs are challenging for the cast, but they’re fun to hear and watch, such as “Land of Yesterday,” sung by Hi’ilei Robinson as Lily, a countess who reminisces about Russia.
“It’s just fun,” Keaton said.
Pederson said one song that still gives her goosebumps is “Stay, I Pray You,” sung by Espn Judd as Count Ipolitov at a train station where people are trying to flee Russia.
“Everyone is scared and nervous,” she said.
“There’s just stillness on the stage, which hasn’t happened at this point in the play.
“They can’t say goodbye to their country even though their country has betrayed them in a way or doesn’t want them anymore.”
The song’s line “I’ll bless my homeland till I die” is sung beautifully by Judd, Pederson said, and it reminds her of “Fiddler on the Roof” where Jews must leave their homes too.
“It’s a similar type of moment and tells you so much about the struggle,” she said.
“Sometimes in musical theater you don’t get these complex emotions. It’s very straightforward.
“You are feeling what they are feeling. It’s a beautiful moment.”
“Anastasia the Musical” features more than 35 students in cast and crew roles. Lorentzen said part of Ghostlight Productions’ role with the operetta was training student technicians on stage operations.
For more about Ghostlight Productions, visit ghostlightwa.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.