Happy 20th Anniversary Anastasia! The composers tell the stories behind the film's most iconic songs




  • Composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty were working on a Disney film at the time when a former Disney executive who moved to Fox contacted them about the movie.

  • They wanted the songs to have Russian elements to it but didn't want it to leave the songs as a "dry period piece" and incorporated pop elements into it too

  • Journey to the Past: this part of the film was actually ghostwritten by Carrie Fisher and her writing helped when trying to get to the psyche of Anya. The original version of the song involved Anya being on a bicycle while singing but was ultimately scrapped. The song continued on to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Song but ended up losing to Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On.”

  • Once Upon a December: This was the song that the composer duo wrote as part of their audition. The parts when the ghosts start appearing and dancing in the ballroom was a result of the composers' songwriting, saying that the animators loved the concept of the background ghost vocals and later included it into the film. When the animations for the piece was being created there was actually a heatwave going on in New York so it proved to be quite a challenge coming up with all the cold and winter imagery during that time.

  • Learn to do it: this song according the composers was a fun yet challenging with condensing all of Anya's lesson about Russian royalty into one song. The names used in the song were actual names of the Romanov family and influential members of the Russian imperial court, and it proved to be quite the task to make it all rhyme too when including in those names.

  • Aherns and Flaherty finally got there wish of bringing Anastasia from film to broadway this year but with a more historically accurate and mature spin to it. They were blown away to find out how much this movie meant to people when seeing the audience watch the musical.



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Favorite Anastasia songs? (both film and musical)