Fishers actress embraces role in Civic Theatre’s ‘Anastasia’

From left, Troy Bridges, Isabella Agresta and Steve Kruze appear in Civic Theatre’s production of “Anastasia.” (Photo by Joshua Hasty Photography)

Jill O’Malia is acting her age, or in fact, a little older.

“I’ve been fortunate over the years to be cast as someone much younger than I was,” O’Malia said. “So, this is nice I don’t have to worry about the wrinkles. I’m a grandma.”

CIF COM 0611 Jill OMalia2

O’Malia, who was crowned Miss Indiana in 1969, is playing Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorvna in Civic Theatre’s production of “Anastasia” April 26 to May 11 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Empress Maria is supposed to be around 80 years old and is Anastasia’s grandmother.

“It was thought through history she was the only surviving Romanov,” O’Malia said of Empress Maria.

Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed in 1918 following the Russian Revolution of 1917.

“She was a very kind and pleasant person until the time her family was murdered, and then she became very stubborn and outspoken and her heart was broken,” said O”Malia, a Fishers resident. “So, the solo I sing is at a point where she is so broken, it’s kind of sad.”

This is the first time O’Malia has performed in a Civic Theatre show since “Into the Woods” in 2013.

“It’s great to be back. It’s a wonderful organization,” said O’Malia, who regularly acts for several community theater organizations.

O’Malia said she gets to sing a part of “Once Upon a December” with Young Anastasia at the end of the show. Young Anastasia is played by Westfield High School senior Keegan Connor.

Isabella Agresta is playing Anya, or Anastasia. Agresta, a 2022 Franklin Central High School graduate, said she would have been happy with any role, but she said she wanted to play the title role.

“I’ve done a few community theater roles where I’ve played the lead, but this is probably one of my favorites,” Agresta said. “It’s grown to be one of my favorite musicals. I always liked the music, and that’s what led me to audition.”

Agresta said “In my Dreams” is one of her favorite songs to perform.

“I also really love ‘In a Crowd of Thousands,’” Agresta said. “I think it’s a really important one in the show. It’s a big moment when she finally realizes she is Anastasia.”

Agresta said it’s an emotional role.

“I’m a really emotional person and I cry really easily,” Agresta said “I’m afraid I might shed some tears during the show.”

This is Agresta’s second show with Civic Theatre. She performed in “Elf” in 2023.

Indianapolis resident Troy Bridges is playing Dimitry in his Civic Theatre debut.

“I didn’t know much about the musical beforehand, but it’s become a favorite of mine,” Bridges said. “I think I’ve acclimated pretty well to the role.”

Bridges said he researched the musical quite a bit after getting the role.

“I’ve been enjoying getting to know (Dmitry) a little bit,” he said.

ND CIVIC ANASTASIA 0416 La Schiazza head shot
La Schiazza

Renée La Schiazza, a 2012 Carmel High School graduate and Carmel resident, plays Tatiana Romanov and various roles in the ensemble.

“I always liked the movie, but I think what intrigued me about auditioning is none of us has had the chance to do the show because it’s the regional premiere,” La Schiazza said. “The score is beautiful and there are a lot of wonderful dance numbers. It was really a great opportunity to be part of a new cast and do a show with just a lot of dynamic musical numbers.”

La Schiazza, the director of programs for the Great American Songbook Foundation, performed in Civic Theatre’s “The Sound of Music” In 2023.

Fishers resident Anne Beck is the director and choreographer.

For more, visit