As Anne (with an “e”) Shirley declares her originality in her opening anthem “Gee, I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me”, one is immediately reminded why this red-haired, Canadian orphan has entertained and comforted us for the past century. Whether she is lamenting about the White Way of Delight or telling off nosey neighbours, Anne has always been able to clearly articulate how she feels and why she feels that way: all the while using the most exquisite of vocabulary. Cap Theatre’s rendition of Don Harron and Norman Campbell’s 1965 musical adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, directed by Kevin Michael Cripps, holds true to the charm, honesty, and comedy that Lucy Maud Montgomery masterfully created in 1908.
The production team put great effort into building the fantasy world of Avonlea. Of course, the campy, synchronized choreography of the townspeople captured a social familiarity that any small town Canadian would recognize. There was a perfect balance between mischief, as seen in their hide and seek gossip game through the laundry in “Did You Hear?”, and their innocent eagerness to help in “General Store”. The lively, bright costumes, the pastel lighting filters, as well as the animated piano arrangements of Arielle Ballance, made one feel as though they were in an eternal spring on Prince Edward Island.
Perhaps the strongest part of Cripps’ rendition was the chemistry between the performers. From Braeden Saucy and Sarah Prato’s deliverance of the socially awkward and conscientious Cuthbert siblings to Caleb Lagayan and Amanda Spinosa’s loyal portrayals of Gilbert Blythe and Diana Barry, it is evident that the production team carefully sought out not only extraordinary musical talent but also actors who work well together. Of course, the spotlight was on Alexandra Ewert, who perfectly managed to captivate the sincerity and melodrama that is Anne Shirley. Her monologues echoed that of Amybeth McNulty’s Anne in CBC’s 2017 television rendition, yet she made the character her own with her eccentric body language and playful attitude. This was most evident in “The Facts”, where the audience got a glimpse into Anne’s fantastic point of view as Ewert danced around a bohemian lit stage with gypsies and sang about the genealogical history of her alter ego, Cordelia. Later, as Ewert dramatically belted her ode of “Apology” to Mrs. Lynde, one almost would wonder if her performance was becoming too excessive for the red-haired orphan until she ended her song lying face down on the floor and one is reminded that no actor can be too excessive for Anne.
Cap Theatre’s retelling of Anne of Green Gables is the perfect way to enter into spring.
Its talent will leave you impressed and its story will leave you warm-hearted. Experience the Canadian classic March 17 as well as March 21-24, 2018 at BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts.