Perhaps it's not best to compare the play with the television series. But "Anne of Green Gables: A Musical," now playing at the Hale Center Theater in Orem captures the essence and the style of the long-running Disney series.
This is the story of an orphan girl who was supposed to be a boy who came to live with an aged brother and sister on an Avonlea farm. A redhead with temperament to match, Anne - spelled with an "E" as she insists - is blessed with a creative imagination and charmingly saucy attitude that forms the backbone of the play.Colorfully animated and full of life, "Anne of Green Gables" presents the adventures of this pretentious teenager with lively song and dance. This was the first presentation with this cast and needed some polishing, including the embarrassed actress who had to retrieve her slip that had fallen around her ankles during the first dance. The gaffes were more noticeable in a small theater in the round than they would have been on a larger stage. But the presentation was very entertaining - it will make you laugh and make you cry.
Much of the music is original and composed by Kurk Davidson (currently performing in the national touring company of "Les Miserables" - also reviewed in this section today), Cody Hale and Tammy Eves, but the music on occasion overpowered the performers.
The show begins on an exciting, energetic note with a vigorous song and dance, "Avonlea," but the ending lost that excitement and energy, and was instead anti-climatic. Perhaps it was the storyline - it wasn't as demanding as the first act. However, pacing was strong throughout the play and retained the interest and attention of an appreciative audience.
Characters were well cast, and they captured the personality and fun-loving humor the audience expected. Tori Ann Dunaway becomes the true Anne television watchers have grown to love over the years with all her wittiness and foibles. Tanya Radebaugh is convincing as Marilla Cuthbert. Other parts were also well done, including Ken Hillam as Matthew Cuthbert and Rosalie Richards as Rachel Lynde, the busybody neighbor who kept the audience in stitches and on occasion would steal the show. Nearly everyone has a neighbor like her.