Matryoshka Dolls

Winslow’s Home was a new to us restaurant that Dan steered us by as we took him to the airport. It’s title is a one-off attribute to the painter Homer Winslow. It is located on Delmar, west of the Loop, in U City. I did not see any other references to Homer, but I didn’t do much exploring either. I felt rushed, what with Dan’s takeoff deadline, but everything worked out alright. We had enough time for the meal, Dan got to the airport on time and we made it to the Fox early. We’ll have to return there, when we have more time. 

The night’s musical was Anastasia. I was expecting another Disney cartoon to stage adaptation, like Aladdin, the previous show in this series. I was mistaken. There were no Disney princesses here. Anastasia the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas, was rumored to have survived the execution by the communists that befell the rest of her family in 1918. The first act is set in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad. It is now 1927 and two ne’er-do-well grifters are hatching a scheme to swindle the Romanov empress dowager, still living in Paris, if only they can find the right girl to impersonate Anastasia.

In Anya they find such a girl. Unfortunately, she has amnesia. Beyond character introductions and story setting, most of the first act consists of a My Fair Lady like tutelage, where Anya is uncannily adept. Coincidences continue to pileup with the recovery of a missing heirloom music box, a pursuing commissar, the son of the Romanov firing squad’s commander and even the two grifters have imperial connections. The second act is set in Paris and involves Anya meeting with the dowager queen and resolves all the different identity issues.

One interesting aspect of this show was its sets. They are a combination of conventual 3D sets and 2D photographic projections. The introduction of video into theater is a trend that has been developing for some time. In Anastasia this trend reaches its most comprehensive use yet, with full stage projections. This technique is most effective when used as a moving backdrop behind 3D sets, like through the floor to ceiling glass windows of the palace. I liked the sensation of motion that it gave on the train ride from Russia to Paris. Anne found this use to be too repetitive, but if you consider the alternative, without it, the scene would have been much less exciting. Think of it as CGI for the stage.

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