Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Ottawa audiences who’ve been stuck ‘in their dreams’ waiting for Anastasia can finally wake up to see it live and in person! Originally scheduled for October 2020, then pushed to April 2021, and then finally rescheduled to August 2022, the grand legend of the last descendent of a possible dynasty finally opens at the National Arts Centre on August 30.
The BFFs got to chat with Canadian ensemble member Brooklyn Libao about this special family-friendly show that’s filled with so much nostalgia, especially for a certain generation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Apt613: There have been a few bumps along the way to Anastasia coming to the stage in Ottawa, and we are so excited it’s finally here! What has it been like to be a part of the touring cast of Anastasia?
Brooklyn Libao: I joined the cast only a few weeks ago, and it’s actually my first contract ever, so it was a crazy process. It was one of my first times going back onstage since the pandemic, which is just a really lovely feeling to get out there in front of a crowd and dance and sing and do what I love finally again. It’s nice to get out and do things and travel and perform and meet new people and all that stuff, I’m enjoying it a lot. It was really hard [during the worst of the pandemic], especially because performing is really what I love to do. As dancers, our goal is to be onstage, and even though I did some virtual performances, it wasn’t the same as having an audience.
Apt613: The show has a beautiful range of very regal costuming. Is there a specific costume you love wearing or seeing onstage? Any behind-the-scenes secrets you can share about the process?
BL: My favourite costume is the princess costume that the Romanoffs wear in the beginning. Fun fact—we have very, very little time to change between that costume and the next costume that we go to, which is the scene right after. There’s maybe a minute or two in between when the last person gets offstage, which is me, until we come back in a whole different costume! Not to mention every costume comes with a different wig. It’s insane and getting used to that was crazy. It hasn’t happened where I was late yet—so I’m hoping, knock on wood, that it won’t. It’s huge fun, yet a little stressful time backstage.
Apt613: For lovers of the animated movie, what do you think they will be most excited about in the stage production?
BL: It was the first Broadway show that I ever went to see, so it’s a full circle! From my experience, just hearing the nostalgic songs was super exciting, and hearing the new songs that they put in—they are so beautiful. To feel the excitement of the nostalgia, it makes it so emotional. When I first watched it, the moment the curtain went up and I heard the Once Upon a December music box sound, I started tearing up. You can feel it onstage too, everybody’s love for the show, and doing those parts with those nostalgic songs—people are excited and you can feel it.
Apt613: What’s it like being a Canadian cast member touring here? Will you have family and friends come to see you?
BL: I’m excited to bring the show to Canada but I’m mostly excited to show my friends and family the show. Also, there are a lot of places in Canada where I haven’t been yet, so I’m excited to go to places like Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. It’s very cool being one of the only Canadians on tour and getting to talk about Canada a lot [to my castmates]. I have to get everybody on poutine!
Anastasia runs from August 30 to September 4 at the National Arts Centre. Evening performances are at 8 pm, except Sundays at 7:30 pm. Matinees are on Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 1:30 pm. The show runs for two and a half hours with an intermission. A digital lottery for tickets will begin in conjunction with the show’s first performance. A limited number of tickets will be available for every performance for $69 each. The lottery will first open at 12 pm Friday, August 19 and will close at 10:30 am Friday, August 26.