The acting, the singing, the costumes, the sets…just about everything is spectacular in the production of “Anastasia” offered by the Chesapeake Academy’s drama and chorus club this weekend.
The show is loosely adapted from "Anatasia", the Don Bluth/20th Century Fox cartoon musical from 1997, with music by Stephen Flahtery and lyrics by Lynn Aherns. (The story is based on the real life of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The family was murdered in 1918 by forces of the Bolshevik secret police but persistent rumors of her possible escape have circulated since her death.)
The production is directed by Beverly Hill van Joolen, a teacher at the school as well as a professional who serves as the artistic director of the Colonial Players of Annapolis.
“We have loved the story of the movie "Anastasia" for a long time and knew we wanted to share it with our students,” said van Joolen.
Beth Wegner, music teacher at the school, partners with van Joolen for the club and served as the music director for the production.
The CA Renaissance program allows extended time for fourth and fifth grade students to thoroughly explore the creative arts. The drama program requires an extensive time commitment as the students study, rehearse and present a fully staged production.
“We are so lucky here at Chesapeake Academy to have a fully equipped theater and the support of the school and the parents,” said van Joolen.
This production's music is ably played by conductor/accompanist Ryan Shookman who followed the sometime hesitant lead of the young students. Choregrapher Alicia Sweeney provides fun group choreography for the entire cast to be showcased. And professional set designers have nothing on the set artist volunteers Suzanne Huber and Betty Schroll. Yasmeen Meek, who plays the lead role, is spectacular in her vocals, and the entire cast shines in sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic dialogue.
It is apparent that the production takes a huge amount of effort from many students, parents, and volunteers. But all believe the experience is worth it.
“Drama/chorus teaches children many life skills including time and project management, teamwork, and public speaking as well as stagecraft and music interpretation,” said van Joolen. “Being exposed to higher artistic and scientific challenges opens windows to our children’s imagination and, as a result, possibilities for their future.”
Performances of the show will be held at the school on Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Additional shows will be held next Friday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 21, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children ages 2-12. For ticket orders, contact the school.