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ANASTASIA Spotlight: An Empress in Exile

Joy McManus-Rodger, an actor who has been involved with the Hickory Community Theatre since the 1980s, is returning to the stage as the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in the musical, ANASTASIA. Performances begin on Friday, November 24 and continue through Saturday, December 16.

From the Tony Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic RAGTIME and inspired by two beloved films, ANASTASIA is the new Broadway musical that’s been hailed as one of the most gorgeous shows in years! This dazzling, emotional spectacle transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer (Joey Moray) determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.

From the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, the new musical ANASTASIA is the story of a brave young woman attempting to discover the mystery of her past while finding a place for herself in the rapidly changing world of a new century. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Dowager Empress Maria Feodrovna has spent ten long and fruitless years attempting to find her beloved granddaughter Anastasia, who is rumored to have survived. As a result, her heart has become hard and cold from the constant heartache of numerous women trying to pass themselves as Anastasia, her hope is all but gone when she decides to meet one more girl who seems to know more than the others. Could she be the long-lost Anastasia?

McManus-Rodgers made her HCT debut in the original musical CAUGHT IN THE ACT in 1981, for which she won the HCT Kay Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She received an Outstanding Ensemble Award at the 2011 Kay Awards for THE FULL MONTY, in which she played the wise cracking piano player Jeanette Burmeister. When asked to name her favorite thing about HCT, McManus-Rodgers said “It’s the people, the diversity of the community. Coming here is like finding your tribe. This is especially evident in the young people.”

Performances of ANASTASIA are Fridays and Saturdays, November 24 through December 16 at 7:30pm; Sundays, December 3 and 10 at 2:30pm; and Thursday, December 14 at 7:30pm.Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at of by phone at 828-328-2283.

ANASTASIA is suitable for all audiences but parents are advised to visit the show’s website, for more information.

The Hickory Community Theatre’s 75th anniversary season is sponsored by A Cleaner World, Green Park Dentistry, Paramount Automotive and Sunbelt Xpress. ANASTASIA is produced by Catawba Valley Health System. The Hickory Community Theatre is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

PHOTO: Joy McManus-Rodgers plays the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in ANASTASIA, the new Broadway musical coming to the Hickory Community Theatre. Performances will run November 24 through December 16 in the Jeffers Theatre. For tickets and more information visit or call 828-328-2283. Photo by Richard McGee.

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