Anne of Green Gables - the musical
One hundred years ago, Anne of Green Gables introduced readers to one of the most enduring characters in fiction and launched Canada's most lucrative literary franchise. The heartwarming story of the plucky red-headed orphan has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of copies and become the basis for an unprecedented television phenomenon. But behind the fictional and feisty Anne Shirley lurked the often-tormented life of author Lucy Maud Montgomery. CBC Archives takes a look at the life, death and lasting legacy of the woman who created Anne.
• 1919 saw the first Anne adaptation in the form of a Hollywood-produced film. The silent movie version of Anne of Green Gables was supposed to feature Canadian starlet Mary Pickford in the lead role. But due to scheduling conflicts, the role fell to actress Mary Miles Minter.
• The film was a minor hit, but irritated many, including Montgomery, since the producers decided to set the film in Philadelphia.
• In 1934 an RKO big-screen talkie adaptation proved very successful. The film was such a hit that the lead actress changed her professional name from Dawn O'Day to Anne Shirley.
• Montgomery was also upset by this version, noting that the flag that was flying over Anne Shirley's school was an American one.
• By the time Don Harron and Norman Campbell came along in 1956, Anne of Green Gables was still in print, but had yet to get a proper adaptation.
• Inspired by the original book, Harron imagined a stage version that communicated the complex emotions of its heroine through song.
• Harron handled the writing while journeyman musician Norman Campbell composed the lyrics.
• Anne of Green Gables: The Musical debuted on CBC Television March 4, 1956, at 10 p.m. EST on CBC's Folio. It starred Toby Tarnow as Anne Shirley and John Drainie as Matthew Cuthbert.
• A second CBC Television production was staged in November 1958 and starred Kathy Willard.
• The first theatre adaptation was commissioned for the first season of the Charlottetown Festival in 1965.
• In expanding their musical for the stage Harron enlisted Campbell's wife Elaine and theatre veteran Mavor Moore to write several additional songs. The musical debuted on July 27, 1965, with orchestral music by John Fenwick.
• That first version was directed by Alan Lund, and featured American actress Jamie Ray in the lead role. As the festival director Jack McAndrew recalls in this clip, it was an immediate success.
• The musical has run each summer for the past 40 years, making it Canada's longest running stage show.
• The P.E.I. tourism bureau estimates that over 2.1 million people had seen the show in Charlottetown as of 2003.
• It also states than in total more than 3.3 million people have seen the musical live in productions in Charlottetown, and in theatres across Canada, New York, London and Japan.
Broadcast Date: March 21, 1972
Guest(s): Norman Campbell, Don Harron, Jack MacAndrew
Last updated: January 15, 2014
Page consulted on January 15, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
Creators of the popular Anne of Green Gables: The Musical reflect on i...
A reading from Montgomery's private journals.
A behind-the-scenes look at how Anne of Green Gables became the most w...
How Lucy Maud Montgomery's young life was changed forever by a family ...
At long last Montgomery gets married and moves to Ontario to begin her...
Montgomery's heirs crack down on unlicensed Anne of Green Gables merch...
A guided tour of the land that inspired Anne of Green Gables.
The story of how "Ania z Zielonego Wzgorza" became a popular hero in P...
Friends and family share their personal memories of Lucy Maud Montgome...
Lucy Maud Montgomery pursues her writing career in turn-of-the-century...
Montgomery lives out her final years as family troubles, her own menta...
Montgomery's heirs take their fight over profits with television produ...
An expert on Montgomery reacts to a theory that Anne of Green Gables c...
Scholars and fans gather in P.E.I. for an international conference ded...
A look at Japan's 50-year obsession with all things Anne.
A look inside the final volume of Montgomery's personal, and painful, ...
Over 100 years ago, Anne of Green Gables introduced readers to one of ...