Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Director: Adam Brazier
Writer: music by Norman Campbell, book and lyrics by Don Harron
Based on: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel
Cast: A. J. Bridel, Susan Henley, George Masswohl, Katie Kerr, Aaron Hastelow, Marlane O’Brien
Seen on: 23.7.2018

Plot:
Siblings Marilla (Susan Henley) and Matthew Cuthbert (George Masswohl) have decided to take in a foster child. A strong boy who can help them with the work on the farm – work that has become harder for them as they grew older. But when Matthew goes to the train station to pick the kid up, he finds a girl – Anne Shirley (A. J. Bridel). Not knowing what else to do, he takes her home anyway. And before they can clear things up, Anne has wormed her way into their hearts as much as the hearts of all of Avonlea.

I caught this musical version of the novel pretty spontaneously and it was nice and entertaining, but it didn’t win me over as much as the novel did.

The stage just before the show starts.

There were two things I struggled with in this adaptation compared to the book. The first was that they poured about 5 tons of sugar on everything making it sweeter and cuter and just… stickier. That saccharine quality makes things, contrary to intention, a lot less bearable.

The second was Marilla: in the book the relationship between Marilla and Anne is the one that develops most and also the one that is a lot more important (if you ask me) – Matthew is Anne’s fan from the beginning and in the family constellation, his tenderness is needed to mellow things out. But it’s Marilla who is in charge of the day-to-day, who really grounds Anne. And in the musical version, all the most important moments between the two shift to Matthew, effectively sidelining Marilla.

(A third minor thing that has less to do with the musical and more with me is that regrettably in this version, there is no more trace of a queer Anne.)

The cast of the musical.

Apart from that, the musical was fine. The music was nice enough, although I have to admit not particularly memorable. There wasn’t a single melody that stuck with me, although I did enjoy it while it lasted.

The stage design looked really good and the cast was great as well, particularly Bridel as Anne: she gave the character a whole lot of energy and the necessary charm. I did enjoy myself and I don’t regret opting for a last-minute-ticket, but I probably won’t go and see it again.

Katie Kerr and A.J. Bridel in the show.

Summarizing: Fun, but I think I’ll stick with the book.

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