Anne of Green Gables – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

If you are an eleven year old orphan who has never had a loving home to call her own, who hates her red hair and freckles and being called “Carrots,” you are probably Anne with an “e” and the darling heart of a world premiere powerhouse at Goodspeed Musicals until Sunday, September 4. “Anne of Green Gables A New Musical” will quickly capture you, heart and soul and freckles!

For more than a century, Anne has been speaking her mind, without pausing for breathe, and enjoying imaginative adventures. Originally created by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908, “Anne of Green Gables” is a favorite children’s classic tale now being showcased through the creative minds of Matte O’Brien for book and lyrics, and music by Matt Vinson.

When middle-aged siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on a farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada, request a boy from an orphanage to adopt to help Matthew with chores, they never expect to welcome Anna into their lives. While Matthew immediately surcomes to Anne’s charms, Marilla wants no part in this spirited and feisty nuisance.

Juliette Redden is a delicious delight as she tries to make a home in the first place that accepts her. With her best friend the sweet and accepting Diana (Michelle Veintimilla) and her teasing enemy, the modestly perfect Gilbert Blythe (Pierre Marais), Anne soon wins over hero Matthew (D.C. Anderson) while Marilla (Sharon Catherine Brown) and her nosy neighbor Mrs. Lynde (Aurelia Williams) remain immune to her good qualities and must literally be cajoled to her side.

Anne uses her big words and her big heart to win over all her naysayers. In her decidedly melodramatic ways, she perfects her ability to apologize to those she has offended without actually admitting she is sorry. As she and Diana bond as kindred spirits and Matthew becomes the father she never had, Anne finally becomes part of a family and community and is euphoric. Tunes like “Different Kind of Girl,” “Ashes of My Youth,” and “Before You Hit The Ground” propel the action while Philip S. Rosenberg’s lighting shines throughout. Jennifer Jancuska keeps an energetic ensemble of Emily Agy, Jarred Bedgood, Tristen Buettel, Giovanni Da Silva, Amanda Ferguson, Patrick Oliver Jones, Nick Martinez, Morgan McGhee, Jenna Lea Rosen and Avery Sobczak on their toes or acting in other roles. Director Jenn Thompson puts all the diverse elements together for a seamless and joyous production.

For tickets ($30-81), call Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, on the Connecticut River in East Haddam, at 860-873-8668 or online at goodspeed.secure.force.com. Performances are Tuesday at 2 p.m.(on selected dates). Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (on selected dates). Check the website for Covid requirements. Masks are required.

If you’ve ever felt like an outsider, with the immense task of fighting to find your place, you will soon cheer Anne on in her quest to be loved and accepted and, finally, truly and happily, at home.

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