“Which would you rather be if you had the choice—divinely beautiful or dazzling clever or angelically good?” Anne Shirley asks in the classic story, Anne of Green Gables.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Avonlea and meet author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters, you’re in luck. For the next three days at Camelot (although fitting—I’m not talking about Lord Tennyson’s Camelot), a group of mostly young boys and girls are putting on a production of Anne of Green Gables. Directed and produced by Sarah Floyd, this production stars Ariana Jones as the red-headed orphan who comes to live at Green Gables on Prince Edward Island.
This summer my daughter and son, Maggie and Clancy have become intimate with Anne and her knack for trouble. When Maggie was asked to participate in the community theater group’s production, she surprised me by saying yes. Soon she was practicing her lines for her role as Jane Andrews, one of Anne’s friends. A few days later, Clancy joined the cast as Charlie Sloan. Ever since, they have been getting an introduction into theater, learning the importance of projection, “cheating-out” (or facing the audience), make-up and lighting.
Clancy and Maggie as Charlie Sloan and Jane Andrews
Last week Anne of Green Gables opened at Camelot in Buena Vista, Virginia. As Ariana took the stage, Anne comes to life. With her red hair and energetic smile, she is perfect for the role.
Ariana Jones as Anne
One of my favorite scenes in the story is when Anne and her friends play-act Tennyson’s poem, “The Lady of Shalott.” As she floats down a river in a rowboat, Anne recites Tennyson’s poem.
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
But when the boat springs a leak, Anne is forced to abandon the sinking boat and climb onto the piling of a nearby bridge. In the PBS production, Anne is clinging to the bridge piling when along comes the handsome Gilbert Blythe whom Anne swore would be her life-long enemy because he had teased her about her red hair.
When Gilbert finds the soaking wet Anne stranded in the middle of the river, clinging beneath the bridge, he stops and says, “Why Anne Shirley. What in the heck are you doing?”
Anne replies calmly, “Fishing for lake trout.”
Megan Follows as Anne
In the Camelot production, Anne’s friends—who have just found the sunken boat with no Anne in it, burst into Marilla Cuthbert’s kitchen in a panic. They are sure they are murderers.
Another great scene in the Camelot production takes place when Anne accidentally causes her bosom friend, Diana Barry, to become drunk. She mistakenly gives Diana current wine instead of the intended raspberry cordial. Diana—played by Kamila Fuentes—is comical as she becomes absorbed with her drink. Her hiccups shake her body, her speech becomes garbled and she becomes tipsy. As much as Ariana’s looks suite her to play Anne, Kamila’s dark, curly hair fits Anne’s ideal that her bosom friend should have raven, black hair.
Bosom friends, Anne and Diana
For all of you acquainted with Anne of Green Gables—and even those who aren’t—come get a glimpse of Avonlea and spend two intimate hours with the people of Avonlea. Thursday, Friday and Saturday night shows begin at 7 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. at 2047 Magnolia Avenue, Buena Vista, Virginia. The story of Anne Shirley is not just a story for young girls, either. Anne’s story is one of both joy and sadness. It is about overcoming the odds. It’s about perseverance. Author L.M. Montgomery did a masterful job capturing human nature in her characters and in doing so created an enduring and endearing story for the ages.
Cast of Anne of Green Gables