Review: Anne of Green Gables, the Musical

Anne of Green Gables was one of the few literature I have read more than twenty times. Yes, an abbreviated edition for children was enough to sweep through the delightful adventures and vivid imaginations of Anne Shirley, the bright and talkative red-haired orphan still alive in the hearts of millions. I have been longing to visit the Prince Edward Island, the smallest province of Canada, ever since I learned that Anne’s Green Gables really exists there, as well as other places Anne entertains as playgrounds–the Hunted Woods, Lovers’ Lane, Anne’s House of Dreams, etc. This summer, my longtime wish was fulfilled when I visited my navy brother stationed in Halifax. Having prioritized a visit to the Island, I persuaded my family to attend the Charlottetown Festival as the major attraction cannot be missed. Of course, I was the only member of the family who was familiar with the story and was most excited and enthusiastic about the musical, the major feature of the Festival happening every summer.

The musical adaptation was intended for the general audience who have not yet read the novel. The episodes from the thirty-eight chapters were carefully selected, arranged, and extended  in order to maximize the comedy and musicality of the narration. Amazing dance sequences are added to the scene of Anne’s picnic that only appears briefly in Anne’s conversation with Marilla in the book.   Some of the episodes were deliberately removed for their complex setting, for example, the scenes of Anne falling down from the roof and Gilbert’s rescue at the lake. Honestly it was somewhat heartbreaking not to see the depiction of the lake scene because of its pivotal role in Anne and Gilbert’s relationship. As a lit fan, I am generally satisfied with the characterizations except Gilbert, who always has been my romantic hero, depicted by Justin Stadnik as a daring and competitive boy. In the book, Gilbert always remains good-natured towards Anne, and the academic rivalry was only one-sided. Well, this slight discrepancy is understandable because emotional subtlety is not very compatible with stage productions where every feeling must be visible to the whole audience.

Accompanying with my family somewhat lessened my expectations to see it as an accurate adaptation of the book, but more as an entertaining family show. It was definitely worth the expense and time, for my mother, who did not understand English, had great fun and laughs. I’m glad my parents enjoyed their first musical experience. The actors were great, the songs were so sweet, Anne of Green Gables The Musical had every perfection a musical can have. It also made me want to revisit the beautifully written prose once more. That’s how much I love the story.