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 A golden throne, and glittering ikons: Anastasia

Anastasia Cambrian Players   Lake Superior News
#LSN_Arts   Cambrian Players

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  January 20, 2019  (LSN) A golden throne, and glittering ikons: Anastasia, which opens February 27th, will be the first full production staged by Cambrian Players in their new theatre at 818 Spring St.  The 1956 play was also, coincidentally, the first Cambrian production staged at the University Centre Theatre, in 1964, when it delighted audiences and won seven awards in the Dominion Drama Festival. Cambrian veteran Joan Brooker still remembers what fun it was to take part in that production.


This play by Marcelle Maurette and Guy Bolton is the piece that inspired the Ingrid Bergman movie, the popular cartoon, and a new musical.  The plot explores the idea that Princess Anastasia might have survived the 1918 murder of the Russian royal family in a cellar in Yekaterinburg—or rather, that it could have been made to appear so. 


The story engages the audience's emotions, as we see three unscrupulous Russian ex-patriates, in 1926 Berlin, teach the homeless Anna how to impersonate a dead princess.  Their motive is to use her to reclaim the Tsar's millions, deposited for his heirs in the Bank of England.  Anna is an apt pupil; but now she has to convince Anastasia's surviving relatives, Prince Paul and the Dowager Empress, Maria Feodorovna. Only with their support can the plan succeed.  Tensions mount as we wait for the  Empress's arrival, and wonder whether she will acknowledge her grand-daughter or reject the impostor.


Anna struggles to regain her lost identity; but who is she?  That is the question put before the audience in this three-act play. Though it is a period-piece, Anastasia also deals with issues of current interest. We watch two strong women, Anna (Mari Lukkaroinen) and the Empress (Andrea Jacobsen) hold their own against the plotters, Prince Bounine (Gabe Ferrazzo), Petrovin (Ken Horton), and Chernov (Andrew Paulsen). 


The past's hold on us provides another powerful theme of the play.  To evoke the lost Tsarist era, the set calls for ikons and portraits.  Some of the former are pictured here, created for the play by Donna Goodman, who also co-designed the set along with director, Eva Burkowski.  This portrait photo of the real Anastasia in childhood is one of several photos of the Tsar’s family that will decorate the walls of the Berlin house where the action takes place. 


The artworks and sets for this period piece are only two of the many behind-the-scenes contributions from a crew of about two-dozen individuals who, along with the cast of thirteen, are working together to bring this production to the stage in Cambrian's new theatrical home.  Cheryl Silen is stage-managing; new Cambrian Steve Hurley is making a throne; Allison Payette is designing the lighting, and Richard Pepper the sound; Hanna Laaksonen-Korpi is designing make-up and hair; Jerry Silen is building the set.  And as is often the way in the multi-tasking world of community theatre, Richard, Hanna, and Jerry are acting in the play as well. 


Anastasia runs February 27-March 2 and March 6-9 at 818 Spring Street (the former Polish Hall), and the Gala Opening is  February 28.  The play begins at 7:30 pm. and the doors open at 7:00 pm. Tickets ($25 and $20) are available online on Eventbrite, or from Thunder Pet (both stores), Fireweed, and Calico—and at the door. 


Please note that there are stairs up to the doors, and down to the bathrooms, and that the building is not at present wheel-chair accessible.  Queries to [email protected]

By: Eva Burkowski!





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