top of page
Anastasia: a Musical Riddle

Music by Stephen Keeling

Book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna

NB This musical is in development

A new chamber musical which explores this mystery from every angle using all the tools of musical theatre.




Shaun McKenna and Stephen's latest musical. Please note it is a work in progress.


In 1920 a woman was fished out of the Landwehr Canal in Berlin, still alive after a botched suicide attempt. She claimed to be Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. There was only one problem. Anastasia, like the rest of her family, had been brutally slaughtered two years earlier.


The woman known as ‘Anna’-and at various other times as Fraulein Unbekannt, Anastasia Tschaicovsky, Anna Anderson and Anna Manahan-was to spend the next sixty years at the centre of a controversy, with many twists and turns. Anna Anderson. A riddle. A mystery. Nobody can be certain who she was. A beautiful Romanov princess, miraculously returned from the dead? A symbol of hope for her people in exile from the Soviet Union? Or perhaps she was a liar, an imposter for one of the biggest con-tricks of the twentieth century. Everyone has to make up their own minds about Anna Anderson.


ANASTASIA : A MUSICAL RIDDLE” explores the story from every angle. Using all the tools of musical theatre, from sweeping romantic melodies to biting comic monologues, from dreamy waltzes to sharp modern choreography, the show creates a memorably heart-tugging character in Anna, surrounded by all the denizens of a world of brickbats and bouquets. Our guide to this world is LEO-part observer, part narrator, part lover, part friend. A man who clearly loves the idea that Anna is Anastasia Romanov but who is not blindly loyal. He sees too clearly the forces in play around her to take anything at face value.


Did Alexandra Romanov survive the massacre of the Russian Royal family? Was the frail, damaged young woman in a German asylum really the last survivor of an Imperial dynasty?  She claimed she was a princess, and many of her family believed her. She behaved as though she was a princess, and the case fascinated Europe and America throughout the 1920s and 1930s. With anti-Communist propaganda at its height and the Romanov family fortune at stake, "Anna" became a cause to which all manner of vested interests attached themselves.


Anna Anderson lived to a ripe old age insisting that she was Anastasia. The romance of the 'disinherited princess' appealed to those who longed for a fairytale ending to a brutal tragedy. But life is not so simple. "Anastasia: A Musical Riddle" examines the power of belief, the need to believe and, whatever the DNA results eventually revealed, why Anna Anderson's story tells us so much about human nature. Listen to A Day Like This and Love Was Not Enough below.    


* The sheet music to A Day Like This is available on

Score Exchange

Copyright © 2008 McKenna/Keeling. All rights reserved.

bottom of page