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Anne of Green Gables—The Musical

Review by Peggy Miles

It’s a truly Canadian cast for this season’s production of Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, with performers hailing from a multitude of hometowns across the country: Vancouver to Middle Cove, Newfoundland, and Quispamsis to Killarney, Manitoba.

At Charlottetown’s historic Confederation Centre on opening night, with the Premier sitting in the seat directly in front of me, the 49th consecutive season of Anne was launched on the mainstage. And all of that national talent culminated in a marvellous celebration of Canada’s smallest province.

The musical’s artistic director is Anne Allan, and the show’s music director is Donald Fraser.

I’ve seen the Anne musical a handful of times. So as the full company drifted onto the stage for the opening number, and the bray of the horned instruments began, my ears delighted in the familiar sounds and my eyes smiled. For a return visitor, it is easy to connect with those recognizable lyrics, iconic costumes, and customary set pieces.

Shortly after the start of the opening number, the stage was set up to mimic an outdoor market and the ladies of Avonlea harmonized in “Great Workers for the Cause.” I was taken by the vibrancy of the scene, and the ease of how the set pieces had all been placed on stage.

Ontario native Katie Kerr is this year’s Anne, and brings a youthfulness and dynamism to the role unlike I’ve seen before. The actress capably demonstrates all that Anne represents: a girl who is bright and quick, talkative and imaginative. Extremely animated, Kerr shone in “The Apology” to nosy neighbour Mrs. Lynde.

I greatly enjoyed the interactions Kerr (as Anne) had with the character of bashful Matthew, played by Tim Koetting. The actor skilfully displays through actions (and occasionally words) why he is captured by this lively young orphan. These two performers delivered a sweet and charming rendition of “Humble Pie.”

As much as I’ve mentioned how the cast represents all of Canada, I must highlight the array of homegrown talent that’s present in this year’s production.

Jessica Gallant is a real charmer as Diana Barry and produces a very comical performance during the tea party scene, when the raven-haired girl mistakenly indulges in current wine during her afternoon social with Anne. Originally from Ten Mile House, her Island charm shines through.

And who doesn’t love seeing Charlottetown native Glenda Landry breeze onto the stage? Landry has played a variety of Anne—The Musical characters over the years, most notably as Diana. She is celebrating her 43rd season with the Charlottetown Festival.

Island resident Marlane O’Brien is a familiar face to Island audiences, and portrays Marilla Cuthbert in this year’s production. The lyrically clever “We Clearly Requested a Boy,” sung by the characters of Marilla, Matthew and Anne is a wistful favourite.

This year’s production is vibrant and sharp. If you’re looking for a taste of high life in Charlottetown, plan to see Anne of Green Gables—The Musical this season.

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PEI Symphony Orchestra

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Jack Frost Winterfest at Eastlink Centre

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