WHERE Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
INFO $69-$189; 212-239-6200; anastasiabroadway.com
BOTTOM LINE Pretty but predictable.
Every couple of years — OK, two years ago and now — Broadway producers have felt compelled to stage a big, bombastic, romantic musical about recent Russian history, preferably based on at least one hit movie.
In 2015, we had the brief run of “Dr. Zhivago,” which had little grasp of sociopolitical history and, oddly enough, no snow.
Now “Anastasia,” inspired by the 1956 Ingrid Bergman film but mostly the 1997 animation, does have plenty of snow — lovely fat snowflakes that flit like fireflies behind the semicircle of graceful windows (designed by Alexander Dodge) that twirl and reveal scenes from St. Petersburg to Paris.
This one also has a score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who wrote the music for the cartoon that catapulted the song, “Journey to the Past,” to pop stardom. For the Broadway version, they have teamed up with playwright Terrence McNally, their collaborator for the far superior “Ragtime.” More power ballads have been added to the pretty but dispiritingly predictable story of Anastasia, the princess who, as rumor once had it, may have escaped the revolution’s firing squad as a child in 1918.
Tony-winning director Darko Tresnjak (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”) keeps everything moving attractively along. But there is little he can do with a vapid story that has absolutely no context for a revolution that, in this version of history, only turns out paupers and bureaucratic puppets.
Christy Altomare is strong as Anya, the young beauty with a big, clear voice, enviable tiny waist and amnesia, who may be the lost Romanov. Found sweeping the streets of St. Petersburg in 1927 alongside other starving proletariat, Anya is recruited by a down-on-his-heels Count (John Bolton, amusing) and a destitute young man (Derek Klena, appealing).
Their plan is to get to Paris, where Anya will convince the exiled Dowager Empress (Mary Beth Peil, compelling and exquisite as always) that she is her granddaughter. And so we have Anya being taught how to act like a lady — think “My Fair Tsarina” — while she begins to remember things that no commoner would know.
Vertigo-inducing realistic video takes us on the train to Paris, but not before a conflicted Soviet officer (Ramin Karimloo, dashing), gets a crush on Anya but knows he must kill Anastasia. And in Paris, there is the Dowager Empress’ lady-in-waiting (Caroline O’Connor), played as a comic vulgarian from another show altogether.
The lyrics are self-explanatory (“she trembles like a flower, but in her is a power”) and the songs (one sounds like “Officer Krupke”) are familiar. “Journey to the Past” is now the first-act finale. Altomare sings it beautifully.