Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Anne of Green Gables The Musical
Based on the novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Book by Don Harron
Music by Norman Campbell
Lyrics by Don Harron, Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell, Mavor Moore
Kanata Theatre
Directed by Michael Gareau

Anne of Green Gables has been charming Canadians since Lucy Maud Montgomery created the spunky redhead in 1908. And the 1965 Don Harron/Norman Campbell musical based on her novel carried the Anne legend even further afield, so that every tourist from away makes a point of seeing Anne on stage at least once when visiting Charlottetown.

Those who do not travel to Prince Edward Island still have the chance to see the frequently staged musical somewhere across the country. If they are lucky, their meeting with Anne and the other residents of Avonlea is enhanced by a high quality production of the 52-year-old musical.

Certainly, this is the case with the Kanata Theatre production of Anne of Green Gables The Musical as directed by Michael Gareau, with musical direction by Allison Houston and a terrific, versatile set by Heidi Roberts and Jim Clarke.

In the title role, Maya Harris-Harb captures the bright, bubbly, passionate youngster with the giant-sized imagination in a captivating performance. While the musical is primarily her story, particularly strong characterizations from Tony Keenleyside as Anne’s co-guardian Matthew Cuthbert and Sharron J. McGuirl as nosy neighbour Rachel Lynde bring the period and the community to life.

Such well-staged and well-sung numbers as We Clearly Requested and Open the Window are a delight. So are some of the well-executed movements (chorus member Brielle Benisty’s grace is constantly eye catching) inspired by choreographer Susie Bregg-Krzyzanowski that keep the dancers on their toes.

Altogether, this sensitively directed delivery of Anne of Green Gables really adds to the holiday spirit.

Director: Michael Gareau
Musical director: Allison Houston
Choreographer: Susie Bregg-Krzyzanowski
Set: Heidi Roberts and Jim Clarke
Costumes: Theresa Williams and Kathryn Clarke
Lighting: Paul Gardner
Sound: Justin Ladelpha

Cast
Anne Shirley Maya Harris-Harb
Diana Barry Lauren Rae
Josie Pye Jillian Facchin
Prissy Andrews Jasmine Beavis
Gertie Pye Brielle Benisty
Tillie Boulter Rebecca Creasey
Ruby Gillis Claire Logue
Adeline Sloane McKenna Mellon
Gilbert Blythe Zaccary Dyck
Moody MacPherson Jonas Jacobson
Charlie Sloane Gavin Blackburn
Tommy Sloane Jonas Blackburn
Gerry Buote Simon Lindsay-Stodart
Malcolm Andrews Alexander Morris
Bobby Blewett Cooper Dunn
Marilla Cuthbert Catherine Clark
Mrs. Rachel Lynde Sharron McGuirl
Miss Muriel Stacy Ellie McKean
Lucilla Heather Ramjist
Mrs. Pye Aileen Szkwarek
Mrs. Sloane Susan Monaghan
Mrs. Barry Andrea Kinsley
Mrs. Blewett Tracey Bourke
Mrs. MacPherson Karen Germundson
Mrs. Spencer Susan Monaghan
Matthew Cuthbert Tony Keenleyside
Earl the Mailman Ron Geyer
Cecil the Farmer Iain McCracken
The Minister Lionel King
Mr. Phillips Malcolm McCracken
The Stationmaster Michael David

Orchestra:
Keyboard Elizabeth Brumm
Drums David Morissette
Clarinet Kyoko Tsunetomi
Violin Thomas Donohue and Maggie Donohue
French Horn Marie Warren
Bass Tom Kobolak
Flute Tanya Chang
Trumpet Jenny McCracken
Trombone