Ashleigh Prince spoke with Madeline Raube from Anastasia about the show, her career, her audition process and more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Ashleigh: Hello everyone and welcome back to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. Today, we’re checking in with Madeline Raube, our Empress Lily, from Anastasia. Hello, Madeline!
Madeline: Hello, thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to talk about Anastasia with you.
Ashleigh: Let me just say, I’ve been dying to do this interview with you because I love Anastasia, the movie and the show. I’m so excited to have Anastasia come to Worcester.
Madeline: We’re excited too! We cannot wait. We’ve been excited to travel the country, sharing the story. So many fans love the movie and the show, so we’re all excited too.
Ashleigh: It’s going to be awesome. It’s coming to The Hanover Theatre April 14 – 17. It’s right in the middle of our Broadway Blitz, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Anastasia to our stage. I don’t even think it’s hit Boston yet.
Madeline: No, it hasn’t! That’s going to be really thrilling for us. We have a lot of people who are from the East Coast and we haven’t performed in Boston at all yet, so this will be really exciting for us.
Ashleigh: Yeah, absolutely! Let’s begin by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Madeline: Sure. I booked this job after sending many, many video auditions throughout the pandemic. I’ve been performing for years, I got my undergraduate degree in opera from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, then I went to NYU for my Master’s in musical theater for two years there. Then, I lived in the city and was auditioning and performing, and of course, COVID happened and it changed auditions for a while. I was really lucky to have made the connections during the pandemic and then booked this and here I am on this incredible tour doing a role that I absolutely love.
Ashleigh: When I found out that you were doing this interview, I was especially excited because — a little bit of The Hanover Theatre’s history — your role as Empress Lily was slightly different in the movie, it was the role of Sophie. The person that played Sophie in the movie was Bernadette Peters, and she performed at our theatre opening.
Madeline: Oh my Gosh, Bernadette Peters is one of my Broadway idols! I even do an impression of her, it’s on my resume as a special skill. We both have curly red hair and brown eyes and sing similarly. That’s really exciting, I had no idea. I love that.
Ashleigh: It comes full circle. I saw that and I was like, “Oh my God, great connection.” I am so excited to talk to you about your history as well. I was looking at your bio, and I thought that you’ve played some interesting roles in the past, so let’s talk a little bit about that. What has been your favorite role, aside from Empress Lily?
Madeline: Yes! It’s funny, this is actually the fourth Lily on my resume. I’ve played Lily St. Regis from Annie, Lily from Secret Garden, Lilli from Kiss Me, Kate. Now, there’s Countess Lily, which is so funny. I’m ready to rack up more Lilys and put them on my resume. Because I’m classically trained, I really enjoy singing anything soprano. I’ve done Christina and Phantom of the Opera and, like I said, Lilli from Kiss Me, Kate, which Kelli O’Hara did in the revival on Broadway a few years ago. Now I’m doing this role, which is completely different. It’s comedic and physically, really involved. The comedy is just a showstopper. It’s fun to be doing this sort of role as something different from a very soprano, ingenue type of role.
Ashleigh: Right! If any listeners out there are not familiar with the show, tell us a little bit about Anastasia the musical and a little bit about Lily.
Madeline: Sure! The musical is based around that this young woman named Anya, who is on a journey to figure out who she is, who her family is. Back in Russia, we show on-stage all the explosions and them killing the Romanov family off. She was this mystery; is she still alive? Is she still out there? She’s on this journey to find someone because she believes that they’re still out there. Along the way, she meets these two guys named Vlad and Dimitri. She meets people in Paris, she goes on these really big adventures. Empress Lily comes into play because she is the Dowager Empress’ lady-in-waiting. The only way that you can meet the Dowager Empress is if you get through Countess Lily. Vlad and the Countess have a little bit of an old flame and they rekindle that. Eventually, you see that Anya meets the Dowager Empress and from there, it’s up to the audience to decide. Was she real? Was it a mystery? Who did she become? It’s a really beautiful journey to see someone so strong, like Anya, find out who she is and meet all these wonderful people along the way.
Ashleigh: I am a huge fan of Anastasia and I grew up with the movie. I always found myself relating to Anya because she’s very strong and she says exactly what she’s thinking. I just love her and her spirit. I saw the show on Broadway a few years ago and I thought it was just incredible. The costumes are gorgeous, the set is beautiful, the music is unparalleled, so this really is an incredible show.
Madeline: It really is, yes! The projections on stage to really make you feel like you’re almost watching the movie too. Everything together, the lighting, the costumes, and Kyla Stone who plays Anya, she definitely brings that out. She’s strong and quirky, she says what she’s thinking and it’s really wonderful.
Ashleigh: I love watching the countess and the common man and their whole dynamic there. Let’s talk a little bit about the differences between the movie and the show. I know that there are some differences, and we don’t want to give it all away, but let’s share a little bit about that.
Madeline: Well, in the movie, there’s a dancing bat and the villain is Rasputin, so we have eliminated those cartoonish moments. The writers wanted to bring it back down to history, so we have the villain named Gleb. Gleb is on a mission to find Anya and tell her that she is not who she thinks she is, so he’s the villain in our story. The comedy that the bat is in the movie is where the countess and the common man come in, and we provide all the laughter in that. So, it’s small adjustments. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll be excited because so many of those songs are in this show – “Once Upon a December,” “Journey to the Past.” So, it’s minimal differences.
Ashleigh: I’m curious, what is your favorite part of the show? What is your favorite song?
Madeline: I love “Land of Yesterday.” That’s my big number in act two. I just get to come out there and have a party on stage with the entire cast. It breaks it up because the first act is is all about setting up the story. You see Anya, she sings a bunch of really sentimental songs, then act two is like, “Damn, here’s Countess Lily. Who is this new person?” It basically wakes everybody up in the audience, so it’s really fun.
Ashleigh: I love “Learn to Do It.” I love that their voices just layer on each other, it’s so great.
Madeline: That’s a good one. That’s the song that gets stuck in my head the most, “Learn to Do It.”
Ashleigh: Oh, always. I have the soundtrack on my phone, so I listen to it in the car and I play all parts. It’s a lot about multitasking. If you’re just tuning in, we are talking to Madeline Raube from the Anastasia production. Anastasia is coming to The Hanover Theatre April 14 – 17. I want to remind everyone that on April 17 at the 1pm show, we will have audio description services. At the 6:30pm show, we’re going to have ASL. If you’re looking for a little bit of accessibility while you’re coming to enjoy the show with us, visit our website and learn more at TheHanoverTheatre.org. Let’s go back to the show and a talk a bit about you. What was the audition process like for Anastasia?
Madeline: Yeah, the audition process was a little different. Like I said, I auditioned mostly through Zoom and through recording videos because, at the time, the pandemic had just begun. I sent about four different videos over several months and I made it to the final callback, then everything shut down and Broadway shut down. Many more months went by and I thought, “I guess that’s not going to happen.” Then, in December of 2020, I received an email from the director saying, “We haven’t forgotten about you and we would still really like you to continue auditioning with us.” So, I sent even more audition videos with the songs for Countess Lily and doing the dance combinations. Eventually, they said “with COVID safety, you can come to New York and audition for the final audition in person.” So, I did that and that was really wonderful to be in person again. After that, I found out maybe a week later that I got the role and I was going to be doing this tour, which was maybe the most exciting news I’ve had in a really, really long time.
Ashleigh: I can’t even imagine getting that call. I think I would be an absolute puddle; I would melt. It’s amazing. I love hearing stories like this, where we’re bouncing back from the pandemic and coming back better than ever.
Ashleigh: I saw on your Instagram bio that you are a vocal coach, which I think is great. We have a Conservatory here at The Hanover Theatre, so we have a number of students that are studying acting, singing, dancing and all that jazz. If we were having a mini lesson with our conservatory students, what is a good warm up that we could use? What can we do to get our voices ready for the show?
Madeline: Singers have so many bizarre warm ups and we make so many strange sounds before we sing in the show. I always do lip trills. It’s hard to do over the phone, but I do up and down the scale with lip trills. I do a lot of sirens, starting from the top of my range and working down. Before act two, I always start singing the beginning of “Land of Yesterday” towards my lower registers. Those are the things I do in my dressing room. There’s so many warm-ups that you can do, depending on your voice type. That’s where I always start, with the lip trills. It sounds so silly but it’s such a good warm up.
Ashleigh: Alright, if anyone sees me on my morning commute doing lip trills, don’t worry about it. I know that we talked about our favorite moments in the show, we talked about the difference between the movie and the actual production, so I am wondering, what has the audience reaction been so far on the tour?
Madeline: It’s been incredible, really. I mean, the reviews have been fantastic. This is a lot of people’s first show back after the pandemic so there’s this eagerness and this energy in the audience of just coming to see a show. For some people, it’s their first show. In general, I love seeing the little girls and the little boys out there dressed up ready for the show. There are a lot of ‘Fan’astasias out there, so the reaction has been great. The projections, like I mentioned earlier, really ‘wow’ the crowd. It’s amazing, especially in “Paris Holds the Key (to Your Heart),” they have this segment where they are going up the Eiffel Tower, and it looks like they actually go inside of it and land on top. It’s amazing. The audience has been really, really into it with us and they’ve been applauding and singing along with us at certain moments. It’s really rewarding to get out there every single day and do this show for so many people who love it.
Ashleigh: I can’t wait. Anastasia is coming to Worcester on Easter weekend. You’re already going to be dressed up for Easter festivities and you’re going to want to show off your outfit around town. Come on down to The Hanover Theatre in your best, beautiful princess-wear. Madeline, before we go for today, this has been an excellent interview. Thank you so much for joining us. Do you have any parting words for audiences today?
Madeline: Just know how excited we are to invite you into this journey with us. We can’t wait to be in Worcester and to be up on the East Coast again with all of you. We can’t wait to just share the story and share all of these songs together.
Ashleigh: Where can our audiences connect with you after this?
Madeline: I am pretty active on Instagram if you want to follow me, @MDRsinger. I post a lot about the show and about this whole adventure on tour so you can follow me there.
Ashleigh: You heard it here, give her a follow and tell her that The Hanover Theatre sent you. Thank you for joining us for another exciting episode of Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. See you soon!