Directed by Duncan McIntosh
Starring Jennifer Toulmin, Heidi Ford, Judy Marshak, and Michael
An imaginative young orphan wins the love of her adopted family and
May 1st, 2003
Very well done, with superb acting and
singing abilities from everybody.
I am very partial to Anne of Green Gables. I simple adore the
mini-series that was
made back in the mid 1980s. This is not that show. While it tells the
same story, and many specific points and dialog show up in a similar
way, that is only because they follow the same book, and both follow the
book very closely.
It is fortunate that the musical, which predates the mini-series by 20
years, focuses on many different aspects of Anne's life. I have not read
the books, but I know that Anne has many adventures, both by herself and
with Diana. There are a few overlapping adventures, such as the
three-legged race, but they were often different enough to enjoy.
Of course, there are the requisite critical scenes, such as the decision
to keep Anne after the mix-up at the orphanage, breaking the slate over
Gilbert's head, kindred spirit moments, and the Avery scholarship, and
each one was very well done. Still, I had trouble admiring the musical
for what it was, simply because I know the mini-series all too well.
Megan Follows will always be Anne for me. Just as Colleen Dewhurst and
Richard Farnsworth will always be Mirella and Matthew. Still, I had no
trouble believing the actress who portrayed Anne was Anne. She
did a terrific job, able to talk nonstop without flubbing a word.
Singing and talking, and never letting anybody else get a word in
edge-wise. Not to mention her dancing. Undoubtedly she has had ballet
training, because she did some amazing movements.
I had more trouble accepting Mirella and Matthew, however. Mirella
seemed too emotionless. Matthew was too unrestrained. As mentioned, I
have not read the books, so I don't know if the musical portrays the
characters closer than the mini-series, but I preferred the latter. I
found that Mirella just didn't have the depth she needed for a main
character. Matthew just seemed too assertive, too bold, for the man who
bonds with Anne, taking a much more active role than he likely would
The secondary characters were amazing. Diana was pure joy to watch! She
had a perfect twitter to her voice, always laughing to hide her lack of
understanding at what Anne imagines. But whether she's carrying on about
the school-teacher's crush on a student, Gilbert's crush on Anne, or her
best scene -getting drunk- she was amazing! She had some great lines,
too, the best being her desire to marry a wicked man and reform him!
Rachel Lynde was also terrific, in her set ways, her ability to be
charmed by Anne (and claiming hilariously at the end that she should be
credited with Anne's success, because she loved the girl from the
beginning!), and her gossipy nature. Also terrific were the other
gossips of the town. I loved the scene where they discuss Gilbert being
hit by Anne's slate, as it snowballs way out of perspective, having his
head split open by the time it reaches Mirella!
Another show-stealer was Josie Pie, a terrific villain as she tries to
keep a hold of Gilbert after he has set his eyes on Anne. She was
probably the best dancer out of all the school kids. She had some
terrific moments, as well, joining in the gossip, tripping Gilbert so
that the ice cream lands all over Anne's face, and simply trying to keep
the rift between Anne and Gilbert strong by fanning the flames with more
For the most part, the songs were truly enjoyable. I couldn't believe
Anne's voice -she could really belt out those tunes. I wonder how old
the actress is who plays her, because she moved and sang like a woman,
while she really looked like a little girl. I was not fond of the
opening song, but enjoyed most of the rest. The history pageant was
interesting, for lack of a better word. I think it was supposed to be a
little off-beat, because the children were to have written it. I just
loved the little igloo as it wandered the wrong way to get off the
Ice Cream was a lot of fun, as was Did You Hear (about Gilbert's head)
and the Where did the Summer Go To song, but my favorite is probably
Open the Windows, when Miss. Stacey shows up as the new school-teacher.
It had a terrific beat, really signifying a new start. Another great one
was Matthew's search for the puffed sleeves. He just couldn't get the
words out! "Puh-puh...", he says, ending up with potatoes and pickled
I was completely amazed at the scenes surrounding Matthew's death. They
were so touching, from his expression of love -finally getting the words
out, to Anne's agony, and finally Mirella's tribute.
The sets were quite simple, which allowed us to focus on the characters.
But I really liked the way the trees were made to seem partially
see-through, and the way Green Gables allowed so much to go on through
such a small set. Matthew grabbing the ladder to get Anne out of her
second-floor room was hilarious!
Still, I didn't enjoy this performance as much as I probably should
have, simply because I am so familiar and enamored with the
actors, however, did a great job with their dancing and singing, that it
was really quite enjoyable.