AP NEWS

From cartoon to the stage: Anastasia to play Durham

April 11, 2019

When “Anastasia” star Jason Michael Evans visits Durham next week with the touring production of the show, he is most excited to check out what’s happening near the theater.

A lifelong fan of the movie “Bull Durham,” Evans said he is thrilled to be performing so close to the iconic Durham Bulls. He has even booked a “Bull Durham” themed place to stay while in town.

The animated film is a far cry from Evans’ role in the the musical, which was inspired by the 1997 Disney film. The story starts with a pretty brutal massacre of the Romanov family and the rumor that the family’s youngest daughter, Anastasia, managed to escape.

Evans plays Gleb Vaganov, a general for the Bolsheviks who now controls Russia, and the main villain of the show. His scenes involve trying to find out if the orphaned woman, Anya, is in fact Anastasia. While the show is based off of the film, there are some moments that might be intense for young viewers.

“There are some tense moments,” Evans said, noting that the show is billed for those ages 7 to 107 years old.

He said his 3-year-old nephew has seen the show and enjoyed it.

Evans said the show “humanizes” the film while continuing to “hold onto that heart.” The show also holds onto a few songs from the film including the Academy Award nominated “Journey to the Past,” “A Rumor in St. Petersburg” and “Once Upon a December.”

The music can only be matched by the grand costumes in the film, which are fit for royalty. The elaborate gowns are breathtaking, but heavy. Evans, who relishes his few costume changes, noted one gown as easily weighing 30 pounds.

“It’s something that anyone can relate to -- the story of a young girl who is trying to know who she is,” he said. “Anya is a young woman searching for her place.”

Anastasia runs at Durham Performing Arts Center April 16-21. Tickets are still available.