Mystery, Romance, Beautiful Songs and Hopeful Story

Mystery, Romance, Beautiful Songs and Hopeful Story

Fairfax High Presents ‘Anastasia the Musical.’

From left, Kaylee Williams, Alejandro Cahoon and Tristan Farmer in a scene after Dmitry gave Anya the music box.

From left, Kaylee Williams, Alejandro Cahoon and Tristan Farmer in a scene after Dmitry gave Anya the music box.

In 1907, a 6-year-old Russian princess named Anastasia is given a music box by her grandmother, who’s leaving for Paris. Then when she’s 17, there’s a revolution and her family, the Romanovs, are attacked. Afterward, Anastasia is missing – and no one knows if she’s dead or alive.

Meanwhile, a young woman named Anya has amnesia and can’t remember her past. So two conmen convince her to team up with them and pretend she’s Anastasia so they can receive a reward from the grandmother in Paris who’s looking for her.

That’s the premise of Fairfax High’s upcoming Cappies show, “Anastasia the Musical.” The curtain rises Thursday-Saturday, April 18, 19, 20 at 7 p.m.; Thursday-Friday, April 25-26, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, April 27, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, students; $12, adults, online; and $15 at the door. Online tickets are at

There’s a cast and crew of about 75, plus a 22-person pit orchestra. “It’s a really beautiful story that’s full of hope, and I thought the kids would enjoy doing it,” said Director Chris Whitney. “Watching their performances during rehearsals has taken my breath away. I’ve seen flashes of brilliance, and I can’t wait to see what they do on opening night.”

Act I scenes take place in Russia at the palace of St. Petersburg, in that city’s slums and on the streets of Paris. Act II scenes are portrayed during a ballet in Paris, in hotel and press rooms, and in a Russian nightclub. 

Creating the sets will be projections, plus a periaktoi used in ancient Greek plays. It’s a giant, three-sided column with changeable walls that’ll become the inside of a palace and a government office, as well as the streets of Russia and Paris.

“There are so many different elements of spectacle the audience will enjoy, ranging from snow and big dance numbers to moments that are intimate and heartfelt,” said Whitney. “The show’s message is that, ultimately, love triumphs over duty.”

Senior Kaylee Williams plays Anastasia/Anya, in her 20s. “She’s strong and independent, since she’s had to live on her own since she was a teenager,” said Williams. “After the Communist attack, she lost her memory and didn’t know who she was. People found her lying in the snow and brought her to a hospital, where she was named Anya. She’s tough, confident and stubborn and is trying to find her family. She has a vague memory of Paris and that someone’s waiting for her there.”

Loving her role, Williams said, “It’s so much fun, and Anya’s different from other princess characters. I like playing the lead and showing the dynamics she has with the other actors. And I also like being in a trio with the two con artists – Vlad, an older man, and Dmitry, who becomes her romantic interest.”

Her favorite song is “We’ll Go from There,” sung by the three of them on a train. “It’s really cheerful and energetic, after their previous song, which is very dark,” said Williams. “So this changes the mood and shows how they’re hoping to find a better future.”

She said audiences will enjoy the musical’s variety in tone and dynamics. “There’s romance, humor, darkness and mystery,” said Williams. “It’s all you can ask to see in a show. The music is beautiful, and the ensemble vocals sound gorgeous and help support the story.”

Portraying Gleb Vaganov, a high-ranking member of the new Communist regime, is sophomore Nate Smith. “His father was part of the revolution against the Romanov family,” said Smith. “He’s stern and projects a fake, strong persona to maintain his position and be accepted by his higher-ups. But inside, he has a soft spot for Anya and has fallen in love with her. So he has a conflict between that love and his order from the Communists to kill her, because they believe she’s the last remaining Romanov.”

Smith tries keeping Vaganov’s stern exterior in check by finding little, humorous parts in his dialogue, although his character’s attempts at jokes fail. “I show in my facial expressions and body movements how he really feels inside and how conflicted he is,” explained Smith.

He especially likes the song, “Land of Yesterday,” sung by Kathryn Whitis as Lilly, a former Romanov countess. “It’s the most fun and high-energy song in the show,” said Smith. “And I got to choreograph it with my co-choreographers, Naomi Bautista and Libby Hansen.”

“This show makes you reflect on who you have in your family and how we treat other people,” he continued. “It says a lot about our history as a society and as a world – and how we fix our issues but, in doing so, often hurt each other.”

Senior Alejandro Cahoon plays Dmitry. “He’s a con artist who wants to leave Russia and falls in love with Anya in the process of finding his way to Paris to get a reward for her,” said Cahoon. “He’s street smart and had to raise himself at a young age. He’s a good person at heart but starts off pretty selfish.”

“It’s a blast playing him,” said Cahoon. “This is my last high-school show and, as a transfer, it’s my first at Fairfax, and the cast has been incredible. Dmitry is super charismatic, and I get to grow as a performer, showing many different sides of his character while also showcasing my vocal talents.”

Cahoon’s favorite number is “Quartet at the Ballet,” sung by Dmitry, Gleb, Anya and a dowager empress. “Each character gets their time to shine in this song,” said Cahoon. “And at the end, they come together to make beautiful harmonies.”

Regarding this musical, he said, “The set pieces look spectacular; they’re extremely detailed and will draw people into the scenes. And the choreographers have done a remarkable job teaching us such mesmerizing dances in a short amount of time.”

Portraying Vlad is sophomore Tristan Farmer. “He’s the show’s comic relief but has his own side story,” said Farmer. “Vlad’s a con artist on the streets with Dmitry and a father figure to him. And while on the journey with Anya to discover who she is, Vlad reunites with a former lover, Lilly. 

“He’s a jolly, happy guy but also has a darker side, so a lot of his humor comes from his struggles in life. I really like playing him because I’ve previously portrayed rebellious, gangster-type characters. So this role’s lighter and shows I’m capable of playing other things.”

Farmer especially likes the song, “In a Crowd of Thousands,” sung by Dmitry and Anya. “It’s the first moment they show their vulnerabilities to each other,” said Farmer. “He’s comforting her after she awakes from a nightmare. And through this song, she begins to uncover small things about her past.”

He called this show “one big journey with numerous side plots, a romance and beautifully written and performed music. The audience will be thinking, ‘Wow, these are really talented high-school students in a production not normally seen at their level.’” 

See the Show

The curtain rises Thursday-Saturday, April 18, 19, 20 at 7 p.m.; Thursday-Friday, April 25-26, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, April 27, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, students; $12, adults, online; and $15 at the door. Online tickets are at