Anne of Green Gables

Sonoma Arts Live
Runs in Sonoma through December 9

Bryan Hendon, Shirley Nilsen Hall, and Melody Payne
Photo by Miller Oberlin

Billed as a family musical, the adaptation of Anne of Green Gables playing at Sonoma Arts Live fulfills that appellation with its homespun, innocent and charming warmth. Commendable acting, particularly that of Melody Payne playing Anne, along with attractive spectacle and staging make for a pleasant evening spent in 1908 Avonlea.

Based on the much-loved novels of L.M. Montgomery, Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman’s musical unfolds in episodes highlighting the best-known scenes from the books. Spunky orphan girl Anne (Payne), with her flaming red hair and freckles, is adopted somewhat by accident by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Bryan Hendon and Shirley Nilsen Hall), who originally wanted a boy. Anne’s natural exuberance and generous spirit earn her way into their hearts and a forever home at Green Gables farm. After early missteps and mishaps, Anne also wins over schoolmates and neighbors, eventually becoming a beloved citizen for the town.

Anne’s trials and antics are sometimes amusing, sometimes sobering, and still have a contemporary feeling—Montgomery’s stories include scenes of bullying, prejudice and small-mindedness, as well as young love, friendship, and familial affection. There’s also a nascent feminism in Anne’s forthright nature, intelligence, and refusal to accept limitations on her potential. More than 100 years from her creation, she remains a good role model for all of us. Children (of nine or more) and teens unfamiliar with Anne may enjoy this introduction to the young heroine. …

To continue reading about this production, see the full review at Talkin’
Anne of Green Gables