Review by Treva McNally
Many people were surprised this year when they discovered a scene from Emily, rather than Anne, on the cover of the Confederation Centre Program. But with this summer's show, Emily proves she belongs on the cover just as much as the little red-headed girl who has brought so much fame to PEI. I saw Emily last year and, like everyone else, enjoyed it but found it too long. After some reworking in the off-season, it's still the same great show but now it's shorter and the story line is clearer.
The cast is excellent. Trish Lindstrom takes over the role of Emily this year and she captures perfectly the passion and the seriousness of the role while still allowing the vulnerability to show through. The actors playing Emily's three friends are all back from last year's show-Jeff Madden, Raquel Duffy and Mike Nadajewski-and they are as good as ever. The entrance of the wild haired, barefooted Ilse is a great mainstage moment and Duffy does it so well. The other actors in the show are uniformly good. Denise Ferguson and Kristin Gauthier as Emily's two very different aunts both give moving performances, and Hank Stinson is gentle and passionate as Cousin Jimmy.
Emily has great music that plays in your head after you leave the theatre. "Murray Pride" sets the tone for the whole show, while Aunt Laura's song, "The Ace of Hearts", lets you feel the pain of losing someone you love. "This Island" is my favourite and could serve as an anthem for both the show and Prince Edward Island. I was disappointed when the audience sat down when the cast sung it as an encore this year because last year the audience had enthusiastically remained standing. This may have happened because in the last few minutes of the show, the pace seems to slow down, letting the audience lose its momentum going into the finale.
I always preferred Anne to Emily in the books by L. M. Montgomery, and I liked Anne better on television, but I thoroughly enjoy Emily on stage. It has an intensity that Trish Lindstrom has captured beautifully, and the music is good. This show has proven it can share the spotlight on mainstage with Anne for many years to come. It would be interesting to add Blue Castle as a third show and make it an L.M. Montgomery Festival.