Let’s talk about the ten reasons why everyone produces Anne of Green Gables. Facebook groups are beginning to chat about suggestions of good plays and musicals to produce. I am even a member of a chat group which talks real details such as how to make Pinochio’s nose grow in Shrek or how to transform the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Yes, that’s what we theater teachers discuss a lot.
I can’t help but notice the teachers who work in conservatory school districts in small town America. Let’s face it–you can’t produce Chicago in those towns or even The Laramie Project. Theater is hard enough to sell to a community without it being any more contraversial than an innocuous theme such as bullies. I understand the need for something conservative.
Classics such as Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, the Disney franchise will go over well in a conservative community. I’ve directed all of the aforementioned. My favorite to direct? Anne of Green Gables, the play adaptation by Sylvia Ashby.
Ten Reasons Why Everyone Produces Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is a perfect play for your company. Not only have I directed it, I’ve produced it as well. In fact, many schools and companies produce the play. As you can tell, I know its ins and outs.
There are certain shows that are guaranteed winners for a company. Anne of Green Gables ranks up there with The Diary of Anne Frank, The Miracle Worker, Alice in Wonderland, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever just to name a few.
Ten Reasons Why Everyone Produces Anne of Green Gables
There are many reasons to include it in your season, but suffice to say you will make happy a lot of your potential audience members and your regulars. In particular, I recommend Sylvia Ashby‘s adaptation. It is published by Concord Theatricals.com Ashby understands the challenges most schools and community theaters face as far as budget, casting and theatrical space.
1. The cast is comprised of both males and females, BUT two of main characters are females. Hallelujah
2. There are roles for adults and children of many ages. Nine females and seven males. If you need to pad the cast a little, it’s easy to do with more children in the school scenes.
3. The costumes can be as easy or complicated as your costume budget allows. Simple long skirts, long sleeved high neck blouses and lace for the women work well. Males can wear long pants, boots, a button down shirt with no collar and a cap or hat. You can add bloomers for the girls (which is easy to do and just darling) and knickers for the boys (which again is just so cute), but that’s up to you and your budget. If you want some more advice about the critical steps in costume design, check out: Critical Steps in Producing a Play or Musical: Costumes
4. There are a couple of costume issues–Anne’s hair turns green at one point, but that’s not too difficult to accomplish. We’ve used wigs. She also falls into the stream, so you can get her wet or just imply it by spraying her arms with water and maybe her hair.
5. There are several scenes with many characters on stage at once which means more time for everyone to have fun. I’m all about keeping everyone busy–so the more I can get my cast on stage, the better!
6. It’s a good length, about 120 minutes. This is not too difficult for middle school students to accomplish as well as high school.
7. The set can be as elaborate are you require (I’ve seen it produced on a revolving stage.) or simple. I have directed it with the house up center and the other various locales down stage of it. If you need extra advice about set design, check out: Critical Steps in Producing a Play or Musical: Set Design
8. There is a need for a boat. One time a father went crazy on me and built an entire boat (yes, you read that right), but really, that’s not needed. You could do the scene with a bench on a small platform on casters.
9. In a school setting I directed it with two Marillas and three Annes (one for each age we see as she grows up). This plan was terrific for a number of obvious reasons. It gave more females the opportunity to perform leads and lessened the number of lines they had to memorize.
10. The themes of family and friendship which radiate throughout the plot. It is suitable for all audiences. If for no other reason, you should produce this play because an entire family will attend it. It’s a huge crowd pleaser!
There are no cons against producing the play, in my opinion.
Direct a Classic!
As we know, we are bombarded with everything which distracts us more than enriches us– the internet is the biggest culprir and all it holds. I think the more we can get our students and the community in general to see classic books adapted into plays and musicals the better. If you produce an adaptation of a classic novel such as Sense and Sensibility, you will be in like flint with your community.
If you think you can be a little less conservative, I always first suggest To Kill a Mockingbird or The Giver. If you are a community theater, find out which books the students study and produce play adaptation of those books. For instance in according to Edu.com, most high school students read these books.
In my opinion, we are losing the love of the written word. We are becoming habitual internet users. I’m just as much at fault with this one as anyone else, except I’ve found an answer to my problem.
I’m a member of the National Theater at Home streaming service. It has done wonders for my imagination. Whenever I view one of their productions, it feels like a vitamin has been injected into my brain. The classics are the best vitamins, I’ve found.
The next time you are looking for a play that will become a guaranteed winner for your audience, select Anne of Green Gables. You’ll be glad you did!
What is a play or musical which sells out every time you produce it? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at DhcBaldwin@gmail.com and let’s chat!