St. Mary’s Academy is transforming its Alumnae Hall into Avonlea.
The private Catholic girls’ school presents its spring production Anne of Green Gables —The Musical from April 12 to 14.
Based on the bestselling novel by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, the musical tells the story of Anne Shirley, a plucky, red-haired orphan who’s sent to live with a pair of middle-aged siblings on a farm in P.E.I.
"I chose Anne of Green Gables because I think it’s a very powerful female protagonist," Laura Davey says, the show’s director and a drama/English teacher at SMA. "I also wanted to do something that was distinctly Canadian and that told the story of a young girl, this being an all-girls school."
The production stars a cast of 42 Grade 7 to 12 SMA girls, including Grade 12 student Emily Meadows as Anne. Also, there’s one Grade 9 St. Paul’s High School boy in the cast, Zachary Rawluk, who plays the role of Anne’s classmate Gilbert Blythe.
The musical— written by Don Harron, Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell and Mavor Moore and first produced in 1965 — also features close to 50 SMA students involved in the production aspects of the show, including stage management, directing, choreography, set design, lighting, sound, stage crew and public relations.
The students have been rehearsing four to five days a week since the last week of January. Davey says her job isn’t that difficult because the students are so committed to the process.
"The first thing is I try to do is ignite their passion for the arts," Davey says. "However, after auditions and casting, my job is really just to guide them. I help by providing them with some staging and maybe some blocking, but they’re doing most of the work on their own. They’re doing their own character development. When they come to rehearsal, we just tweak the work that they’re doing at home."
Also, Davey says most of the students came into the process knowing the story of Anne of Green Gables.
"In Grade 7 a lot of the students actually have to read the novel, so a lot of our girls are familiar with the story already," Davey says. "Also, lots of them have seen the movie and some have even seen the musical."
Davey says it’s been very interesting working with such a wide age range of students, from 12 to 18 years old.
"There are many scenes where we have representatives from every age group on the stage at the same time," Davey says. "It’s just a fantastic way of building community at the school and building relationships throughout the grade levels and the students have been responding very well to that aspect."
Show times for SMA’s production of Anne of Green Gables are Fri. April 12 and Sat., April 13 at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sun., April 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 and are available by calling SMA reception at 204-477-0244 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.