History often finds its way into Broadway productions. Anastasia tells the story of a young princess, the real-life Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of the last Romanov czar of Russia.
Anastasia is living in Saint Petersburg in the the early 1900s when the Bolsheviks attack her family and the young princess is presumed dead. When rumors persist that she may in fact be alive, two men take advantage of an amnesiac young woman named Anya to try to pull off a big con.
“This show is about a young woman searching for her place in the world and where she truly belongs. She stumbles into a once-in-a lifetime adventure and discovers she may or may not be a princess,” explains Lila Coogan, who plays Anya.
Anastasia debuted on Broadway in the spring of 2017, and features a score of memorable songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the same team behind the musical Ragtime), a stunning set, and dazzling special effects. Having recently graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in musical theatre, Coogan has played the lead since the U.S. tour kicked off in October 2018.
Coogan describes her biggest role to date as a once in a lifetime opportunity. “I have been so humbled by this entire experience Every day I wake up and I am living my dream. It’s exciting and exhilarating,” she explains.
The actress, who first appeared on Broadway in 2007 as Jane Banks in Mary Poppins, says she is inspired by the generosity and empathy her character displays, and hopes she emulates some of Anya’s positive qualities in her off-stage life. “Anya is so determined and strong willed and I love that about her. I always try to live that way and it’s amazing to get to play a woman who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it.”
Coogan says that most all of characters in the musical go on some sort of a journey that ultimately helps them discover who they are meant to be. “[The story shows that if] you follow your own personal journey, you can become a more authentic you and discover who you truly want to be,” she says.
The music in Anastasia has been called vocally challenging and Coogan says her favorite musical moment each night is the "In a Crowd of Thousands" duet with Dmitry, played by Stephen Brower. “It’s one of the quieter moments in the show, and it’s where my character not only discovers something about her past, but also something about herself as a person," she explains. "Getting to sing this song every night with Stephen is a dream come true.”
See this dream — and more — come true during Anastasia's Austin run at Bass Concert Hall February 12-17.