PEI

Theatres celebrate Canada 150 with Anne of Green Gables

When community theatres in Canada were looking for ways to celebrate the country's 150th birthday a lot of them came up with the same answer — Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.

'The quintessential Canadian musical'

Anne in rapture at Avonlea in Oshawa Little Theatre's production of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, which ran in November and December. (Oshawa Little Theatre)

When community theatres in Canada were looking for ways to celebrate the country's 150th birthday a lot of them came up with the same answer — Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.

Samuel French, the New York agency that manages the rights for the show, says Anne is a perennial favourite, but it was an especially big hit in 2017. There was a 42 per cent increase in shows licensed in North America, including a 70 per cent increase in shows in Canada.

Anne suffers the most tragical thing ever in the VOS Theatre production, which ran in July. (VOS Theatre)

It seems to have been enough to make Anne one of its most popular musicals this year, along with Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show, and Grease.

This map shows current productions of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical that are licensed by Samuel French. (Samuel French Ltd)

While the agency doesn't track the reasons companies are putting on the show, some companies have shared that Canada 150 was a factor in their choice. Promotional material for the Sault Community Theatre, the VOS theatre in Cobourg, Ont., the Mississippi Mudds of Carleton Place, Ont., and Oshawa Little Theatre all mention Canada 150 in their promotions.

Oshawa Little Theatre was part of a 70 per cent increase in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical productions in Canada this year. (Oshawa Little Theatre)

"Anne of Green Gables is the quintessential Canadian musical," said Michael Schneider, executive producer of Oshawa Little Theatre.

"We all relate to those characters. There's something very quaint and lovely about them. Certainly Anne's spunk and spirit defines us very well. There is a drive that is a Canadian [drive], and we see that in Anne."

Diana Barry enjoys a drink of raspberry cordial in the VOS Theatre production. (VOS Theatre)

Schneider said the first time he was involved in an Anne production was 1979, and he has now done four.

The ladies of Avonlea serve up ice cream in the Mississippi Mudds production, which ran in November and December. (Mississippi Mudds)

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, based on the book by L.M. Montgomery, was first produced at Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown in 1965, and this fall completed its 53rd consecutive season there.

It is the Guinness World Record holder for the longest running annual musical theatre production.

Anne is not impressed by Gilbert in the Oshawa Little Theatre production. (Oshawa Little Theatre)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated Anne of Green Gables: The Musical was Samuel French's most popular musical this year. It was, in fact, among the agency's most popular musicals.
    Jan 03, 2018 3:24 PM AT

About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.