Anastasia is based on a real story from history. The Grand Duchess, Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov, was a Russian princess. Her father, Tsar Nicholas II, was the absolute ruler of his country and was a part of a family that had ruled Russia for 300 years. Nicholas II married his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, who turned out to be very unpopular with the Russian people. When World War I started, things went very badly for the Russians, and Nicholas went to the front lines to try to stimulate war efforts. When things did not improve, the Russians blamed him for their losses. Additionally, Nicholas has left his wife in charge of the government at home, where there was severe poverty and food shortages. This produced an uprising against the Romanovs, which ended their rule when the family was forced to give up power. The family was placed under house arrest and kept in rough conditions for nearly two years until the family was executed by the new government.
One person who was left alive was the mother of Nicholas II, who by this time was an old woman. Rumors reached her that one of her granddaughters may have survived the execution. The former Empress of Russia, Maria Feodorovna, was quite wealthy and if Anastasia could be found alive, she would be set to inherit millions of dollars. A few years passed, and a woman emerged who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. She claimed that during the execution, she faked her death, and a sympathetic guard helped her to escape. After a time of amnesia, she regained her memory and presented herself to the former Empress. She was never accepted as Anastasia. Years later, the graves of the Romanovs were found, and through DNA testing we know all of them died on the same night in 1918.
The broadway musical Anastasia adapts this story, but takes the approach that Anastasia did survive that night. Although the main character doesn’t know it at first, she regains her memory and is able to prove to her grandmother that she truly is the Grand Duchess Anastasia. However, she chooses to go without her inheritance, because she has fallen in love and wishes to remain anonymous.