Take no offense, redheads, but it would seem such a color of hair would not be popular in early 1900s Canada and your only chance of getting married is to a foreign minister.
At least, this is the belief of Anne Shirley, the spirited redhead orphan in the classic story “Anne of Green Gables.” The play version of this story is currently being showcased by the Moscow Community Theatre.
“It’s a classic story from a classic set of kids’ books published in 1908,” said Director Troy Sprenke. “This (year) is the 50th anniversary of the Canadian musical version of the story.”
Sprenke said she loved the music of the show and offered to direct the musical version of the show for the theatre. However, through a series of complications it was decided to stick with the play version.
The story begins with 12-year-old Anne (that’s “Anne with an ‘e’,” mind you), who waits at the train station for a Matthew Cuthbert to pick her up. Matthew and his sister Marilla are to be her adoptive parents, desiring to take in a child to help them around the farm.
Unfortunately, Anne’s coming turns out to be a mistake as the Cuthbert siblings intended to take in a boy. Marilla is determined to send Anne away until she learns that the redhead would be adopted by the nasty and not-well-liked Mrs. Blewitt. Thus begins Anne’s adventures in Green Gables.
“She’s very imaginative,” Sprenke said. “She looks at the world in a lot of different ways.”
Anne’s imaginative spirit knows no bounds, from renaming everything around her to the stories she tells. Just don’t insult her fiery red hair, or she does things like breaking a handheld blackboard over someone’s head.
Along with her spirit are her friends she holds close, such as the ones she meets while at school. Lincoln Middle School seventh-grader Adam Brewer plays one such friend Moody McPherson, a boy who always worries about his schoolwork and is known for stepping on girls’ toes when dancing.
“(We’re) very similar,” Brewer said. “Except the part about (being) worried about flunking in class. I don’t worry about that.”
Brewer said one of the difficult parts for him was playing the role of a 17-year-old when he’s still young. Though the characters age, all the way up to going to college, Brewer said the fact that he’s a little childish in nature made it hard to play the part of a teenager.
Challenges arise, but for Moscow High School senior Brenna Garfield, playing the role of Ruby Gillis, her largest obstacle was doing the entire show with a boot on. The fractured ankle didn’t stop her from going on with the show, and she performed as if she wasn’t wearing a somewhat clunky boot on her foot.
“(Ruby is) an overdramatic person,” Garfield said. “Not as overdramatic as Anne is, (but) if something dramatic happens she’ll flip out.”
Brewer and Garfield both had little knowledge of the “Anne of Green Gables” story. Garfield said she enjoyed being part of the cast that becomes like a family and Brewer liked the new challenges that came up, seeing them almost as a puzzle.
“I call it comparable in Canada to the ‘Little House’ stories here in the U.S. as classic kid’s stories,” Sprenke said.
Sprenke said Anne’s favorite term is “kindred spirit.” To her, it means anyone that became important in her life. This is everyone from her adoptive guardians to her best friend Diana. A kindred spirit to Anne is someone who doesn’t mind and even encourages her imaginative personality, Sprenke said.
Garfield said she defines a kindred spirit as someone who “understands what it’s like to be you.”
“You’re the kindling to the other person who is the fire,” Brewer said. “You are able to understand them better than normal friends.”
“Anne of Green Gables” will have more performances this weekend. The shows will take place Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Performances are held at Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow, and tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students, children younger than 12 to get in free with a paying adult.