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Review: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES at The St. James Players

Located in Lebanon, PA

Review: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES at The St. James Players SPUNKY. FIERY. WITTY. All of these words could easily be used to describe a young orphan girl named Anne "with an e." Known by avid readers as the spirited main character in the Anne Of Green Gables book series by author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne has been brought to life by The St. James Players in a stage musical with delightful results.

The set design was incredibly sweet and inviting. Steve Smith created a charming space with gorgeous hand-painted backdrops that I found myself getting lost in. The cozy stage space was well utilized, and I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality set pieces. There were a few things I would have done differently regarding the stage crew in order to increase flow in scene transitions, since they could easily be seen. They were done in blue light instead of full blackout. Having light on during these changes was very jarring (especially after a death sequence), as was the consistent quick switching between blue to black to full stage lights with every scene. As an audience member, this really broke the magick for me. I also would have loved to have something to break the silence during scene changes, like some matching music or nature sounds, to make them less awkward. Despite these glitches, the ambience was still super heartwarming.

I was impressed with the level of warmth that the performers brought to this story. The onstage chemistry between cast members was wonderful. I especially enjoyed the energy that Grace Signor brought to the role of Young Anne, the heart that Jay Kern brought to the role of Matthew Cuthbert, and the complex layers that Sue Steffy brought to the role of Marilla Cuthbert. I was not a huge fan of some of the dialogue throughout the show (some of it felt really stiff and forced), and a few of the songs were not very well written, but overall the cast did a lovely job with the material. The costumes and props were as beautiful as the set, and it was obvious that a lot of thought and attention to detail was put into both of these aspects as well.

It is very clear that directors Karen Dundore-Gulotta and Jenn McCurdy and their company put a ton of love into this production from beginning to end. The St. James Players are fairly new to the Central PA community theatre scene, and their work exhibits some of the highest quality art I have seen in local community theatre to date. While this show has come to a close, you can visit The St. James Players website here to keep an eye out for upcoming productions and auditions.

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From This Author - Jessica Crowe