Village Theatre to debut Anne of Green Gables musical Thursday

After two and a half years of refining, the "Anne and Green Gables" musical debuted with its first full performance Thursday night.

Matthew John Kacergi

Matthew John Kacergi

After two and a half years of refining, the “Anne of Green Gables” musical will debut with its first full performance Thursday night.

It’s one of two original shows the Village Theatre plans to present this year on the main stage, and it couldn’t be more family oriented.

The story stays true to the novel everyone knows and loves, but this musical is one of the first with “legs,” said Steve Tomkins, the artistic director. “It really captures the energy and the characters of the novel.”

Through a program called Village Originals, actors worked with the playwrights to refine the manuscript with a reading and a workshop production.

“It was really exciting to see the play develop,” said Bellevue’s Annelise Gudenkauf, a 10-year-old playing young Anne and Minnie Mae Barry.

Participating in the reading, she watched the writers debate whether or not they should keep the scene with young Anne.

Lucky for her, they decided to keep the role.

The director found Gudenkauf after she participated in the theater’s children’s production this summer. She shares the part with another girl.

While the rigorous schedule often causes her to work late hours and miss class, the experience has given her a rare chance to learn about professional acting, she said. “They’re all responsible, and they never miss an entrance.”

One time the 10-year-old got so strongly into character’s moment of rejection, she actually felt sad, she said.

“It’s not for every kid,” said her mother, Carla, of professional acting, adding that the theater treats the girls well.

On Halloween the stage manager created a scavenger hunt to make up for missing trick-or-treating.

The Originals program brought the theater national attention last year when one of its plays, “Next to Normal,” won three Tony awards.

Green Gables tells the story of an orphan, Anne Shirley, who is adopted by a family. Things go awry when the family discovers they’ve been given a girl instead of the boy they requested.

“The music is really wonderful,” Tomkins said, adding that the whole play is reminiscent of the early 19th century.

The show plays in Issaquah through Jan. 2, 303 Front St. N. Contact the box office at 425-392-2202. A performance schedule is onThe Village Theatre website.

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