"Anastasia at the Adrienne Arsht Center" was enough to stop me dead in my tracks amidst my afternoon jog to the Venetian bridge, resurrecting "Fanastasia"-childhood nostalgia over a cherished Disney favorite. Jaw dropped, I narrowed in for a closer look, noticing she looked somewhat like me. Could it be, a Black Grand Duchess Anastasia?
Kyla Stone's Broadway debut as the first Black woman to play Anastasia enchanted audiences with her delivery as a precedential princess. Familiar melodic ballads infused with lively storytelling enthralled audiences, taking them with her on her journey to the past in discovery of her true identity. Mirroring the 1997 animated Disney classic, the tale unfolds of a royal princess tumultuously displaced from her family during the Russian empire. Separated from her family with little recollection of her past, young Anya in collaboration with two hustlers, one of whom becomes her love interest, venture onwards amidst peril to successfully reunite with her royal Grandmama.
Ornate relics in the form of costume and set design stunned the eye, from the majestic royal threads of the Imperial family in the early 1900's to the 1920's roaring Parisian ambience in the latter half of the musical. Rich visual and vocal elements enhanced the beauty of the core messages of staying true to one's identity, as well as the importance of family and love as prevailing forces.
Similar to Anastasia's own flashbacks in the story, memories of my early "Fanastasia" days flooded me as I watched the musical in my yellow modern day rendition of an Anastasia dress and crown. Remembrance of the identical yellow and pearl crown that lay atop my frizzy curls and the Anastasia tent that was my castle as a young girl touched me as I was witnessing an Anastasia like me before my adult eyes.
Seeing Anastasia, and a Black Anastasia in real time was the inspiration needed, as modern day princesses of the world continue to rise above oppressive forces and the "ugly stepsisters" of the universe we often encounter, bewitched in their insecurity. As we continue to navigate our obstacles, we never let opposing forces dismantle our crown, as we know our true dignity and worth, persevering as real princesses do.
Because, "It's me, Anastasia".