Ossus Library Index Live Show Index

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES -THE MUSICAL

Directed by Duncan McIntosh
Starring Jennifer Toulmin, Heidi Ford, Judy Marshak, and Michael Fletcher

An imaginative young orphan wins the love of her adopted family and the community.

 

 

3+ stars+

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 have.

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 gossip.

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 stage!

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 jelly! Ha!

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 mini-series. The actors, however, did a great job with their dancing and singing, that it was really quite enjoyable.

 
   

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