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Anne of Green Gables
Albuquerque Little Theatre


Megan Shields
The orphanage made a big mistake when it sent Anne Shirley to the Cuthbert home in Eastern Canada. Brother and sister Matthew and Marilla had requested a boy who could help out on their farm. When Matthew finds Anne at the train station, he believes the orphanage made a terrible mistake. But he takes Anne home because—well, what else can he do. In the meantime, Anne is excited to be part of the Cuthbert home. She can't stop talking all the way from the station to the Cuthbert farm.

Matthew's spinster sister Marilla is unyielding. Anne must go back. She won't be able to help with the chores the way a boy could. The mistake must be corrected the very next day. In the meantime, the awkward, red-headed, talkative Anne is exuberantly annoying, insisting she should be called Cordelia. When they refuse to call her Cordelia, she says, "Well, you call me Anne, but Anne with an 'e.'"

Yet she endears herself with comments that are unwitting, innocent and sweet: "I know I chatter on far too much ... but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't. Give me some credit." And even as she makes mistakes and inadvertently offends friends and neighbors, she manages to shine on a contrite—and sincere—face as she asks for forgiveness: "And I promise I'll never do it again. That's the one good thing about me. I never do the same wrong thing twice." This is the delightful Anne of Green Gables we have loved for a more than a century.

Joseph Robinette has done a fine job of translating this endearing character from L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel to the stage. The story follows Anne through a number of years, up to the point where she's about to head off to college. Robinette gets all of the high points in, which pushes the play past the two-and-a-half-hour mark. Yet I didn't see any restlessness in the young audience. It's a good story, well told.

The story is episodic. The center of the narrative is the personality and spirit of Anne as she fights for acceptance in a very restrained, nearly rigid, social fabric. She ends up winning over each potential detractor with her unquenchable good nature. The key to making this work on the stage is delivering Anne's personality. Director Courtney Wilgus chose well with Megan Shields.

Shields noted she has dreamed of becoming Anne since she was five. Her familiarity with Anne's force-of-nature personality comes through as Shields delivers an exquisite Anne—pretty good for a high school junior. She is well supported by warm performances by Jeff Hudson as Matthew and Angela Robinson as Marilla. Both actors communicate clearly their evolving relationship to Anne, from skepticism to acceptance to love.

Wilgus has delivered a warm and touching Anne of Green Gables. She has managed well a cast of 45 across a stage split into three settings. The complicated staging moves smoothly. Good job on the part of the technical team, including Henry Avery as artistic director, Mark Balistreri as production stage manager, Patricia Hobbs Goodson as scenic and lighting designer, and many, many more.

This production is part of Albuquerque Little Theatre's family series, which as delivered some terrific performances, from The Wizard of Oz to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, all worthy of attention from playgoers of all ages.

Anne of Green Gables, was adapted by Joseph Robinette from the novel by L.M. Montgomery. The presentation was directed by Courtney Wilgus. The play runs at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through March 11. Performances run Friday at 7:30, and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.

There is also a school-time performance on Thursday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. Tickets for the school performance are $5 for students and $8 for chaperons. General admission for adults at regular performances is $12 (13 and up) and $10 for children under 13. The show is rated G, and is not recommended for children under the age of 3. Discounts are offered for online sales after 3:00 for the Friday 7:30 p.m. performances and after 10:00 a.m. for the Saturday and Sunday 2:00 p.m. performances.

For reservations, call 505-242-4750, ex. 2, or purchase at the Theatre's website: albuquerquelittletheatre.org/.


Photo: Courtney Wilgus

--Rob Spiegel



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