Take a journey to the past with the spring musical “Anastasia”


Lexi Thomas

(from left) Declan Lessor, Aurelia Harrison, Esme Sarrouf, Cassidy Pontes and Jessica Cote rehearsing “Land of Yesterday”.

FINN WALL, Staff Writer

This Thursday, the Gloucester High School Theatre Program will open their spring show, “Anastasia,” the hit Broadway musical based on the 1997 Fox animated movie. The show represents a cast of students from all grades, operating all aspects of the performance, from acting to set design, sound, lighting, and costumes.

The play whisks the audience back in time to interpret the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, where she escaped the death of the rest of her family in the Russian Revolution. Years later, in post-Revolution Russia, an orphan with amnesia, Anya (Emily Gossom), looking for traces of her family, is found by two conmen, Dmitry and Vlad (Elijah Sarrouf and AJ Porcello), who wish to take advantage of her likeness to Anastasia to get rich. All the while, they are pursued by communist officer Gleb, (Seamus Buckley) with orders to find and kill Anastasia to finally end the Romanov family.

The musical itself is quite different from the movie it is based on. Supernatural elements were cut, including the villain Rasputin and his bat sidekick—replaced by communist officer Gleb Vaganov—and it also introduces a number of new characters. The high school’s version includes group ensemble dances for a number of songs throughout.

“Being in this show has given me the opportunity to experience a community and a sense of love that I don’t think I would have found anywhere else,” Gossom said. “We’ve all put so much time and effort and love into this show, and I think that will come through when the audience sees it.”

But it’s not just the onstage aspects that are ambitious—the technical aspects are equally complicated. The show features a crew of over a dozen students working lights, sound, and stage management, and many more working on set movement. In order to adapt both the century-ago time period and the fluidity of the locations and sounds, the crew has worked exceptionally hard.

“We have some pretty immersive sounds planned and I’m pretty excited to see the audience’s reaction to them.” sound designer Michael Merchant said.

The show features one of the most dynamic and complex sets ever built in the theater club’s history. The original Broadway version featured only a handful of blackouts for set changes, and to carry that over into the GHS version, the set features prominently a number of wagons that roll the set pieces on each scene. It also features enormous palace walls, an opera house, and a moving train.

“We are pulling off a 20,000 dollar budget set with 1,000 dollars and it’s impressively kind of working.” set designer Elijah Sarrouf said. “Things spin, things roll, it’s great. Everyone will be entertained.”

Emily Gossom and Elijah Sarrouf sing to each other at rehearsal. (Lexi Thomas)

The cast and crew are incredibly dedicated—putting in an incredible amount of hours, they have stayed after school, came to work on the set during free blocks in the school day, and persevered through the challenges that come with a musical. They are all incredibly proud of the show they have created and are excited to show it to the community.

“I really am proud of everyone. I think this is one of the biggest undertakings in terms of ambitious sets and costumes and choreography.” said theater program director Jessica Ruggles. “I know that everyone who has seen snippets so far has been ridiculously impressed with the work that we do. I hope that the community comes to see and support those efforts, cause we can spend months on a show, but if no one comes to see it, then we can share all of our hard work with those who we are creating it for.”`

“Anastasia” will be showing at GHS Thursday the 6th at 7pm, Friday the 7th at 7pm, and Saturday the 8th at 1pm and 7pm. and at the door, $10 for students and senior citizens and $15 for general admission.


What: “Anastasia”

When: Thursday and Friday April 6th and 7th, at 7:00 pm.

Saturday April 8th, at 1pm, and 7pm

Where: Gloucester High School Auditorium

How much: $15 general admission /  $10 for students and senior citizens

Tickets are sold both on the Drama Club website: gloucesterhighdrama.blogspot.com