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An Animated Life

Fairfield’s real life Anastasia



If you’ve ever seen the 20th Century Fox movie Anastasia you’ll instantly recognize the female protagonist with fiery red hair. Anastasia is the beautiful, clever, and adventurous girl fictionalized in this 1918 love story about the daughter of the last Russian Czar. But did you know that Fairfield has its own Anastasia? Anna Pelletier, a longtime resident, was the original human live action model for the animated Anastasia character.

So how do you audition for such a role, not to mention how does a film studio turn a human into a cartoon character? For starters, the opportunity to try out for Anastasia didn’t just fall into Pelletier’s lap; she will tell you that luck had very little to do with it. In fact, similar to her animated character it took a lot of perseverance and faith. There were years leading up to that moment which involved musical roles at dinner theaters, dancing and acting at a 50’s-themed diner, and local radio broadcasting.

She even posed as a video game character and worked as a police dispatcher. Living in Phoenix at the time, Pelletier would grab any job she could to support herself while she pursued her passion. “There were times when I slept in my truck and washed up in McDonald’s. It didn’t matter because I knew I had to support myself while I was out there promoting myself.”

Pelletier’s break came after she saw an ad in a local paper announcing that 20th Century Fox would be holding auditions for a feature animated film. Determined to get an audition, she slipped her resume and headshot under the studio doors and sent multiple resumes.

“I even tried having a large pizza delivered that included my headshot on the inside top of the box. And I’d drawn arrows pointing to my face that said ‘Look at me—I want an audition!’ ” Sadly, nothing worked, until Pelletier signed a new agent who ultimately landed her a spot in the audition room.

At 29, Pelletier was the oldest person to audition for the role, and as she waited for her turn in a room filled with countless teenage girls, she began to lose hope. But her animated gestures, combined with her big green eyes and expressive features, won her a call back. Pelletier was then asked to read the movie lines that Meg Ryan, the voice of Anastasia, had already recorded. Those lines had to be in sync with how Ryan had articulated them—not an easy task. 

One week later she was offered the role of Live Action Model for Anastasia. And one month after that the studio got to work positioning Pelletier in different poses, then freezing the filmed scenes so that they could meticulously draw a cartoon of her form, her face, and her movements.

Now, with the opening of the Broadway remake of Anastasia—on the twentieth anniversary of the movie debut—it’s easy for Pelletier to reminisce about the fun of making the film. If you ask her about the whole experience she’ll tell you it was a crazy, wild ride, one that she treasured. But after a few years and some side roles in films such as Night Rider and Bounty Hunter, she felt that her Hollywood life had run its course.

Her next adventure was with her new husband, Eric. They moved put down roots in the Stratfield area of town, where she started teaching at Unquowa School. Pelletier has since become a National Safety Training Manager at Liberty Construction Services where some of those past stunts as Anastasia​ may be paying off. 

There are some parallels to Pelletier’s life and that of Anastasia, besides the ironic similarity of their names. In 2010 the Pelletier home went up in smoke as an electrical fire raged through the house, and, tragically, trapping their beloved dogs inside.

Crushed and broken, they returned to Arizona to stay with family as they grieved and planned how to recover both emotionally and financially from the incident. But determination to rebuild their lives finally panned out and in 2011 they moved back to the town they loved. With a newly renovated home and  two new Airedale Terriers, Phoenix and Blaze, the Pelletiers started over.

Happily ever afters aren’t just for animated movie characters. 


POWERFUL VOICES There’s a new platform for artistic expression in town—Unquowa Repertory, the brainchild of Kirby and Beverly Ward, and Christine Brown. Javier Colon, winner of NBC’s first season of “The Voice” will be starring in Unquowa Rep’s Big River in Concert, its first production is June 15-17. unquowarep.org

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July 2017

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
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Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
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Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
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Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Website »

More information

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Where:
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Telephone: 203-831-9063
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
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Cost: Free

Where:
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720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

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Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

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View map »


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More information

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Sponsor: Clay Art Center
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Contact Name: Adam Chau
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FTC StageOne
70 Sanford St
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View map »


Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

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Cost: TICKETS: $12 or $15 at the door

Where:
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910 FAIRFIELD AVE
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View map »


Website »

More information

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70 Sanford St
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View map »


Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

Find a previously-loved treasure for yourself and a friend at "The Best Book Sale in New England." Over 140,000 books, plus CDs, DVDs, and records can be found under the tents on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: (203) 259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Pequot Library invites you to celebrate the life and work of Jane Austen, beloved author, at "Jane Austen: Insights and Influences.” This exhibition is part of the ongoing series...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 15
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

For pre-readers through readers entering 12th grade. Reading is even more fun for children and teens this summer! This year’s summer reading theme, Build A Better World, encourages youth to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext. 16
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

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Cost: $28-$80

Where:
Goodspeed Opera House
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View map »


Sponsor: Goodspeed Musicals
Telephone: 860-873-8668
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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