Producing a 54-year-old play for a modern audience
Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ is the longest running annual musical theatre production in the world. Each year a dedicated creative team works to keep it fresh and relevant.
As associate producer for the Confederation Centre and The Charlottetown Festival, Sarah Denman-Wood says that she believes part of this renewal process includes bringing to light different aspects of the magic with the story of Anne. “L. M. Montgomery’s story appeals to so many different people of different ages and backgrounds. Some may identify with her imagination, some with her optimism, some with being new in a small town. We try to bring out different parts of her story in each year’s production,” says Denman-Wood.
Some of these changes include making small tweaks to the production or to the script. The play also gets a facelift every time a new cast is brought on board, who have their own interpretations of the material. The actors of today come from different backgrounds than the original cast, so the play is, naturally, refreshed with each new cast.
As the play itself has been made more modern, so has the set design. The Centre in the midst of a major three-year refresh of the stage. This year’s phase includes the unveiling of an 18-foot revolve large enough to turn the Green Gables house 360 degrees. It allows for quick scene changes and helps establish the illusion of distance and travel.
But while the play is being updated every year, the core story has stayed the same. “There’s a reason people read the novel over and over and over, just as there’s a reason people come to see the show over and over and over. It’s a universal story of people looking to fit in and looking for friendship,” said Denman-Wood.
Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ began its Guinness Record Holding 54th consecutive season on June 18, playing at the Homburg Theatre in Charlottetown until September 22. Playing opposite in the same theatre is Jesus Christ Superstar which runs June 7 until September 22.
* Cast of Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ 2018, Charlottetown Festival