BWW Reviews: No Strings Theatre's ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE MUSICAL
"Anne of Green Gables: The Musical" closely follows the plot of the novel "Anne of Green Gables", written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This musical was adapted for the stage by Canadian composers/writers Donald Harron and Norman Campbell. "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical" is about Anne Shirley, an orphan, who gets adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert to live in Avonlea at Green Gables, and it follows Anne as she goes to school and meets her best friend Diana Barry and a boy named Gilbert Blythe.
Alie Rutty plays the imaginative, talkative and energetic red-headed and freckle-faced Anne Shirley. She's got the right amount of excitable energy that is needed for the character of Anne and has a really good voice to boot, and she makes sure that everyone remembers that her name is spelt with an "e" at the end of "Anne". Anne's guardians, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, played by Anique Mercier and Stefan Lavery, respectively, really add comedy and heart to the musical. Anique Mercier does a fantastic job as Marilla, with her priceless facial expressions and her great singing. Stefan Lavery does a great job as the older, more worn down Matthew with his movement and mannerisms, but he excels more in his dancing then his singing and acting, although Lavery's rendition of "The Words" in Act Two really touches your heart.
But I have to say the star of the show is Michael Spiroff who plays Gilbert Blythe. He has a fantastic singing voice and a boyish charm perfect for the role of Gilbert - I can see him being a triple threat in the near future. I must also add that Alie and Michael have great chemistry as Anne and Gilbert, playing off each other really well. Notable mentions also include: Cara Tors as Diana Barry and Aaron Shelson as Mr. Phillips, who both gave great acting performances; and Zoe Goodman as Josie Pye and Lilly Korkontzelos as Miss Stacy with their great singing.
Alison Smyth, best known for her portrayal of Francine in the Toronto production of "Jersey Boys" makes her Toronto directorial debut with this production of "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical". Smyth does a really great job working with these students and brings out a lot of their acting abilities, along with coordinating some pretty smooth blocking. One of the most impressive things about this student production of "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical" is the choreography which was created incredibly by Natalie Brucker, which shines the most in Act Two.
In addition, I need to commend the set and props design by Hayley Pace. The various simpler and moveable set and prop pieces effectively evoke the Cuthbert's home, the general store, and the school settings, just to name a few. The costumes also deserve praise as well, adding a feeling of authenticity to the musical.
All in all, I was quite impressed with this production of "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical" consisting of mostly high school students. I felt that Act One started off a bit shaky, but by the middle of it, all of the actors were doing a fine job. Act Two was definitely the highlight of the musical though.
After seeing this production of "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical", I must say that there are a handful of actors, singers, and dancers from this cast who will someday in the near future become triple threats.
At the opening night production of "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical", there was a post-show celebrity gala which included the following celebrities in attendance: Aubrey Dan (president of DanCap), Christopher Bond (director, co-creator and co-composer of "Evil Dead: The Musical"), and Michael O'Brien (playwright/adapter).