[Video] Anne of Green Gables? – Five thumbs up – from Seamus – that’s how many he sees some days

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This is a worthy production and a must see event here in the Highlands. Opening play in the Highlands Summer Festival. Thanks to Jack B and Scotty D for letting me into the dress rehearsal for a sneak peek. Yes my review is coming. I'm off to Whitewater right now! Photo by Terrance Gavan

A precocious redhead brings message for all small towns

By Seamus OBradaigh – halhighlands.ca  – Editor Emeritus

Anne of Green Gables, The Musical – Northern Lights Pavilion – July 3- 15 – 12 shows

Director – Scott Denton – Cast? – Ebullient and stunning!

“The story by the numbers: “Anne of Green Gables,” Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel about a Canadian orphan, was published 99 years ago, and it and its sequels have sold some 50 million copies since. It has spawned at least 10 movies and television shows (including an anime version in Japan, where the books have cult status). And the musical “Anne of Green Gables” is the longest-running in Canada, going strong since 1965.” Sourced from NY Times

There’s a message in this wonderful story of the new girl in town. Hell, there are lots of messages in this vibrant musical adapted from Lucy Maud’s play about a red-haired orphan who takes a small town in PEI by the throat and literally shakes it into the 20th century.

You will take your own stuff away from Anne.

You’ll laugh, you’ll smile, you’ll cringe, and you’ll cry in all the right places. I did, and I was only there for the dress rehearsal.

Why? Well, because we all live in a small town. We gossip. We judge. We mourn the good old days. And most important? We’re all a little leery about new ideas, change and the power of the independent mind.

Is Anne different? Of course she is. Is she judged and ridiculed? Of course she is.

She’s new in town. She has red hair. She’s an orphan and she’s gone to live with siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Please inject no freud here. This is how things used to be when there were no Internet dating sites.

So Matthew and Marilla? Very common back in the day. Brother and sister working together to preserve the family acreage.

Ah, But Matthew and Marilla? They wanted a boy! To help wit’ dem’ chores! Y’all. Oh, my! Bricks to the plot. The outsider, Anne, left to the unruly discourse, virtriol, and unabashed scrutiny of a small-minded community that eschews divergence from the ruts on Main Street.

Scoff if you like. But Lucy Maud made a heathy living spinning sic transit gloria mundi ditties. She knew all about the quirks entrenched in a rural pastiche. She also knew the value of a happy ending. Thus worldly things may be fleeting. Character will out. Anne wins! Oops! Ah, you’ve all read the book.

If you’ve never seen the musical, but loved the books. Fear not. The musical does not diverge from Montgomery’s original schtick.

The music you have probably already heard. It ran with Piper Goodeve in the lead on Broadway and the soundtrack is beautiful.

So? If you loved the television series, or the play, or most important, if you’ve read the book? Go see this play. The scenes are homogenized to accommodate the songs and they are telescoped.

But the plot — about a loquacious and terribly lovely redheaded orphan — are responsibly represented.

This is a tour de force production from the Highlands Summer Festival. I was at the dress only – so far, where’s my ticket Jack? Scott? – so no playbill to commend the outstanding and beautiful performances from Anne, Matthew and Marilla. Who remain as intended the pro forma building blocks upon which this play and story rests.

Anne and Matthew bond from the outset – in the play and of course in Lucy Maud’s vivid mind. Marilla comes slower to the fold.

The rest of the cast? Especially the newcomers? The young schoolkids? Outstanding.

This is a large cast and a huge undertaking.

From this Haliburton outsider and orphan? I’ve only been here since July 1 2002. And I am right on board with Lucy Maud here. The rumor mill remains rife regarding my sanity too. I’m from away as they say on The Rock. Always will be.

Fortunately I have fallen in with these evil twisters. The arts community here in Haliburton. Lovely play y’all. And when I get that playbill? Well, I’m gonna pluck in some names.

So kudos to the production crew. The actors. The director. And the music? Absolutely superb.

We give five thumbs up.

Tickets for Anne of Green Gables, The Musical, are available by calling 705-457-9933 or visiting www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca

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