For director Teresa Dayley Love, the long-lasting appeal of Anne’s adventures is Anne Shirley herself. Although the story takes place at the turn of the century, Love strongly believes young girls can still learn much from the heroine.
“Anne is a real girl,” Love said. “Everything about her is still applicable to girls today. She is able to find beauty in everything and is excited about learning. Perhaps most important is her refusal to conform. She shows the importance of girls being themselves.”
Casting the role was a crucial decision for Love as the actress needs to be able to play the character as a 12-year-old at the beginning of the play and an 18-year-old by the end. Esther Pielstick has taken on the challenge of playing the beloved character.
“We played a lot in order to explore Montgomery’s iconic characters and learn their individual stories,” Pielstick said. “It was fun to play like a kid. I think we’ve captured the youthful nature of this show while still keeping the heart and weight of Anne’s world.
Love also mentioned the high expectations audiences have for dramatized versions of Anne of Green Gables. However, Love says the adaption by Peter DeLaurier stays true to the novel by portraying favorite scenes, including an incident with raspberry cordial and Anne’s near-drowning while re-enacting a romantic poem. The play’s focus on Anne’s relationships with her adopted parents, her best friend Diana, and her eventual beau, Gilbert Blythe, ensure that every audience member will relate to the story.
“There is an age for young girls when Anne really speaks to you,” Love said. “But when you read it again when you are older, you read it in a whole new way and may relate to Marilla more. It is a very full book and says a lot about how people look at things differently.”
Drawing on the themes of imagination and creativity, the production also features original music composed by Landon Alley, a music production and engineering major. Each of the five lead characters is represented by their own instrument and motif. The production will also feature a unique set which Love described as “not fussy” in order to encourage the audience to fill in the blanks with their imagination, just as Anne uses hers.
The production runs in the Pardoe from June 1-2, 7-9 and 13-15 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on June 2, 7, 9, 15 and 16. Tickets can be purchased here.