Diva moved to tears by this memorable performance

18 Jun
Colin Sheen, Danielle Wade and company in Anne of Green Gables,  2015 Season at the Huron Country Playhouse near Grand Bend. Photo credit: Darlene O'Rourke

Colin Sheen, Danielle Wade and company in Anne of Green Gables, 2015 Season at the Huron Country Playhouse near Grand Bend. Photo credit: Darlene O’Rourke

By Diva Caroline Thuss

Watching freckle-faced, red-haired, melodramatic orphan Anne (with an E) brought back so many wonderful memories for me as I attended the engaging opening night performance of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at the Huron Country Playhouse. This was an excellent choice to open the season as it offers so much for all theatregoers and also holds a special place in the heart of Artistic Director Alex Mustakas, who performed the role of schoolteacher Mr. Phillips in the Charlottetown production back in the 1980s.

Based on the classic Canadian novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables will have you humming and singing (quietly) along to songs like “Ice Cream”, “Gee, I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me” and “Kindred Spirits”. Danielle Wade (you might remember her from the CBC reality series Over the Rainbow) brings the energy and the spunk needed for the character of Anne and an exceptionally strong voice that brings together all the laughter, frustrations and tears that Anne experiences throughout the musical.

Joining Wade is an extremely talented cast composed of Susan Gilmour (Marilla Cuthbert), Ted Simonett (Matthew Cuthbert) who really add heart and comedy to the production as they play off each other with friendly banter.  Jade Repeta as Diana Berry, Anne’s best friend, and Colin Sheen as the rival Gilbert Blythe steal the show at certain points. When Diana joins Anne for afternoon tea that includes what is thought to be raspberry cordial, it turns into what has to be one of the most comical scenes. As Diana downs the bottle leaving Anne to deal with her strange behaviour.  I am sure many of us have had to deal with a friend like that at one point in time. When Blythe puts the frog down Anne’s dress and, along with the rest of the male chorus, imitate all of Anne’s jerky moves as she tried to get the frog out, that it is impossible not to laugh a good belly laugh.  Wade and Sheen are able to capture the many frustrations that school-aged pre-teens and teens have with each other and I swear that I remember feeling the same frustration when I was young that Wade’s Anne does to Gilbert’s teasing and silly behaviour. The choreography that accompanies the great egg-on-spoon race at the church picnic was high energy and defied all the laws of gravity.

One song, sung by Simonett towards the end of the performance, brought many members of the audience to tears (including me) as you could truly see the beautiful relationship that his character developed with Anne.

The creative team under the direction of Max Reimer, has create a performance that is sure to be a winner in the hearts of all theatregoers.  Anne of Green Gables charmed its way into my heart, as I am sure it will for many others. Make sure you get tickets before the show ends its run on June 27th.

Tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for youth under 20 years of age. Tickets for preview performances and groups of 20 or more are $34. Tickets may be purchased online, in person at the Drayton Entertainment Box Offices, or by calling (519) 238-6000 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).

 

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