A Much-loved Canadian Musical

The Link Magazine
Photo: Courtesy of PEI Tourism

The Link, Spring 2017
| by Joanne Culley |

VOS Theatre in Cobourg is pleased to announce they will be staging the iconic Canadian classic Anne of Green Gables in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. “It’s been over a decade since we staged a summer production,” says Liz Clark, VOS President. “We felt it was time summer theatre returned to Cobourg and that Anne was a fitting show for the occasion of Canada’s sesquicentennial.”

Anne of Green Gables is the first in a prized series of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It tells the classic tale of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old red-haired orphan, who rises from destitution to happiness due to her spunk and personality. This lovable heroine’s adventures at Green Gables, the farm owned by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who become her adoptive parents, are both comical and heartwarming.
“The story of Anne has an enduring appeal because its themes remain relevant,” says Clark. “It speaks to us today because it is hopeful. Anne chooses to embrace each day with curiosity and gratitude. That’s not a bad thing to be reminded of in our world today.”

Originating in Charlottetown and playing each summer since 1965, making it the longest-running musical in Canada, the play has also toured London (UK), Europe, the United States and Japan. The original production was adapted by Canadian theatre legend Don Harron, with music by Norman Campbell, lyrics by Harron and Campbell and additional lyrics by Mavor Moore and Elaine Campbell.

Anne of Green Gables is a much-loved Canadian musical that has its roots in an interesting story. The show rose from the need to create a single 90-minute television show that aired in 1956. The title song from that script was performed at a variety show to celebrate the opening of the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown for Queen Elizabeth and when she asked where the rest of the show was, Harron and Campbell sat down to write it,” says Clark.

“Anne chooses to embrace each day with curiosity and gratitude.”

Clark says the VOS production will complement other summer theatre presentations in Northumberland County. “Our intent is that it contributes to making this area a summer theatre destination. The production is already receiving unprecedented support from local patrons and out-of-town groups,” says Clark. “We are thrilled with box office numbers to date. I’d advise people to order their tickets soon.”
The musical’s creative team includes Joel Varty as Artistic Director, Angela Main as Vocal Director, J.P. Baldwin as choreographer, Stephanie Kooman as assistant choreographer and Jill Baker as Orchestra Director. The production will involve the creative efforts of close to 150 people, including about 25 cast members, a production team of about 40 to 50 people and a live orchestra with about 20 talented musicians.

“This community is blessed with so many talented, creative people from musicians to actors to seamstresses and designers. Anne will no doubt be a superb vehicle to showcase their work. We are hoping to contribute to a festive atmosphere in Cobourg’s downtown core and continue to bring tourists to the area long after the Canada Day celebrations wrap up. The only question now is: Who is that triple-threat actress that will bring Anne to life?”

Auditions for Anne of Green Gables are being held at the end of March. There are roles for all ages. Watch the theatre’s Facebook page and website www.vostheatre.com for more information. If you would like to volunteer to work on the production in another capacity you can email theatre@vostheatre.com “If you like to paint, build, sew or want to learn more about theatre – we want to hear from you,” Clark said.
Formerly known as the Victorian Operetta Society, VOS Theatre is a vibrant community theatre group that has been staging professional quality productions for over 27 years in Cobourg, drawing on a highly talented membership of actors, musicians, dancers and singers from the area.

Anne of Green Gables will be performed on July 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at 7:30 pm and July 15, 16 and 22 at 2 pm at Victoria Hall, 55 King St. W. in Cobourg. Tickets are $27 with group rates available and can be purchased at the Victoria Hall box office by calling 905-372-2210, 1-855-372-2210 or ordered online at www.vostheatre.com. The show is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French.