On Stage: Local director brings classic children's book to life

Promotional poster for the play "Anne of Green Gables" (Courtesy Lawrence Burgess)

The story of an orphaned Canadian girl sent to the wrong family has been enjoyed by readers for more than a century. A local theatre director has taken the tale of "Anne of Green Gables" from the page to the stage.

In 1908, Canadian author L.M. Montgomery created a character which would stand up to the test of time.

Her 11-year orhan girl Anne Shirley is the focal point of the classic children's novel "Anne of Green Gables."

The tale has been adapted many times, including for film, TV movies and both live-action and animated television series. Charleston's Lawrence Burgess has created a new version for the play which he produces, directs and debuts in Charleston this week.

"I write every production that I'm involved in because I have quality control," Burgess said. "I can pre-edit. But I've been involved since at least half a year ago, getting this prepared from casting to getting promotional pictures to shooting every inch of it. It's quite and undertaking but it's wonderful."

Anne's story is taught in classrooms around the world. She is mistakenly sent to the Cuthbert farm, run by a middle-aged brother and sister. They had actually intended to adopt a young boy to help on the farm, which is set in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Sound.

As the book's story unfolds we see how Anne gets along with her new parents and adjusts to her new surroundings.

"She's an emotional roller coaster," Sydney Ooten (Anne Shirley) said. "She's very imaginative. She doesn't really have many friends but she wants some. So she tries really hard but she just kind of doesn't of fit in."

"Anne of Green Gables" is a well-traveled work, selling more than 50 million copies and having been translated into more than three dozen languages. It spawned a number of sequels with Anne's character becoming iconic with young readers through the decades.

"Just reading through the play and that, it's just amazing what this show is and what it could mean to people," Norman Clerc (Matthew Cuthbert) said. "I could understand why these are called beloved books."

Ashley McCann/"Diana Barry": "It's a fun, family-friendly story," Ashley McCann (Diana Barry) said. "You know, like 'Little House on the Prairie' but it's Candadian so it's even more polite."

“Anne of Green Gables”
A benefit for the victims of child abuse with portions of the proceeds going to Prevent Child Abuse WV
www.teamwv.org
by Lawrence Burgess
Fri March 16 and 23 at 8pm
Sat March 17 and 24 at 2pm and 8pm
Sun March 18 at 3pm
The Capitol Theater
123 Capitol Street,Charleston, WV
Evening tickets $15 ($10 for students, seniors, and military with valid ID)
All matinee tickets $10
www.heylb.com

CAST

Anne-Sydney Ooten
Marilla-Caroline Rainey
Matthew-Norman Clerc
Diana-Ashley McCann
Rachel-Linda O'Neill
Gilbert-Jon Brennan
Mr. Phillips-Brett Smith
Ms. Stacy.-Melissa Starcher
Mrs. Barry-Marycait Hoke
Ruby-Sophie Alexander
Jane-Olivia Miller
Josephine, Mary Joe-Debi Brennan
Fred-Elijah Kiser
Mrs. Spencer-Michele Brooks
Thomas, Stationmaster-H. Wyatt Hanna
Mrs. Blewett, Josie, Doctor-Meagan Goode
Moody-Justin Stewart
Minnie May-Anna Doss

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