Fans of the Golden Age of Broadway can struggle to find something to love in our modern theater landscape. Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville,” the “SpongeBob SquarePants” musical and film adaptations from “Mean Girls” to “Beetlejuice” to “Mrs. Doubtfire” are a long way from “The Sound of Music” and “West Side Story.”
But actor Veronica Stern finds old charm in new musical “Anastasia.”
“I love Golden Age musicals,” Stern told the Herald. “I grew up watching them. I watched ‘West Side Story’ a million times, and ‘Guys & Dolls.’ A lot of contemporary musicals have you belt really high like in rock ’n’ roll. Those can be really cool but ‘Anastasia’ is very unique because it is a contemporary musical but it has such a Golden Age feel to it.”
Stern makes her Boston debut during the second week of the run of “Anastasia” at the Citizens Bank Opera House from Aug. 17 to 28. Playing the lead role of Anya — an amnesiac orphan looking to uncover her royal roots between fall of the Russian aristocracy and the fanfare of Paris in the ’20s — Stern steps into a dream part (a dream earned after years of hard work).
“‘Anastasia’ is the story of a woman searching for her identity and is full of mystery and wonder, adventure and romance,” Stern said. “I grew up with princesses and grew up wanting to play one on stage, but Anastasia is so unique because she stands by herself in a way that a lot of (film and theater) princesses don’t. It’s important to tell a story like this in 2022.”
Current lead Kyla Stone, who will be with the production in its first week in Boston, made history as the first Black actor to play Anya in “Anastasia.” As a woman of color, Stern says she will bring her own experience to the role when she takes over in the second week and continues on with the tour, which will hit two dozen more cities in 2022 alone.
“I don’t think this story is necessarily one of color,” Stern said. “Anyone can play Anastasia. It’s the story of a woman trying to find herself and we are all trying to find ourselves, to figure out who we are.”
As someone who began her career during a pandemic, Stern is thrilled to be on a national tour of this size — “it’s an experience that’s pretty unbelievable,” she said. Thankfully, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2021, right as the theater industry began opening back up.
Stern is young, talented and deserving — Broadway World named her one to watch in 2022. But she knows that a break like this is a thrill at any age.
“I went to school for four years to study to do this but it doesn’t matter if this happens at 23 or 32 or 92, it’s always a really special thing to get to do this,” she said.
It also doesn’t hurt to be 23 and love classic MGM musicals like someone who is 92.
For tickets and details, go to boston.broadway.com.