Theater Review: Claremont theater showcases ‘Anne of Green Gables’

Samira Felix
Staff Writer

The Youth Theatre Works production of “Anne of Green Gables” opened March 27 at the Mudd Theatre at the Claremont School of Theology.

The show is based on the children’s novel with the same name by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montegomery, published in 1908. 

Kathy Kilsby, producer and director of the Youth Theatre Works program, explained why they chose “Anne of Green Gables” as their first play of the year. 

“We have been doing this for 20 years,” Kilsby said. “We have had some of these kids since they were 8 years old. For example, Grace Whitney, who plays Anne Shirley, came to us when she was 8. She has been studying voice with Barbara Durost, our musical director. She started as one of the small parts like a seagull in the Little Mermaid and now she is the lead.” 

“We like to pick shows that we know that we can cast,” Kilsby said. “We pick our shows based on who we know is going to audition for them.”

“Anne of Green Gables” follows the journey of Anne Shirley as she is taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of two siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. 

Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert originally decided to adopt a boy that would help Matthew with their farm, Green Gables, because he was sick, but a misunderstanding occurred and the orphanage sent Anne. 

The play begins with the orchestra playing the overture and then the performers sang the song “Anne of Green Gables.” 

When the song is over, the curtains open and the first scene starts. The towns ladies gathered together and started to sing “Great Workers For the Cause.” While singing, they notice Matthew Cuthbert driving away, which they find strange because he never went anywhere. 

The ladies sing “Where is Matthew Going?” and once the song is over, Marilla Cuthbert shows up and tells the ladies that Matthew is going to the train station to pick up a boy that was sent from the orphanage.  

The performers’ costumes had a range of colors and they were unique to each character. They also fit well with the 19th century setting. 

The costumes consisted of dresses, overalls, coats, vests, sweaters and different types of hats throughout the play.

Warm and cool tones were used for the lighting throughout act one and act two. The spotlight was often used to highlight a character while they were singing or a conversation between characters. 

The second act opened to a scene where the school kids are at a picnic. Gilbert Blythe sang “Summer” and then the rest of the performers sang “Where has Summer Gone?” 

The backdrop for this scene is a tree and there are two trees on the stage. 

Throughout the play the set changes between Marilla and Matthew’s home, a classroom and a forest. Props were also used throughout the play by the characters or to set a scene.

Kilsby explained that the sets were created by Sarah Irnest-Peterson and the kids helped to build them.  

The play ends with Anne and Marilla arriving home after attending Matthew’s funeral. Marilla explains to Anne that she will be selling the farm because she cannot take care of it on her own. Anne decides to give up the scholarship she was awarded to go to college to stay and help Marilla with Green Gables. 

The curtains closed and then they opened so the thirty kids who were in the play could take their final bow. 

Kilsby explained that she was proud of the kids’ performance. She was also proud of the way they treat each other and how they work at making each other look good.

“Their excitement is contagious, watching them learn and grow and find things is amazing,” Kilsby added. 

The Youth Theatre Works program, which is very inclusive and LGBTQ+ orientated, was created by Kilsby and Barbara Durost in 2002.

Kilsby said that the arts is important because it teaches kids humanity, the language of culture through the arts, how to be a team player, a good listener and how to take care of one another.

“I want the kids to have the kind of relationships that will last forever because you will always have that moment on stage with them,” said Kilsby. “I want them to have that relationship with the audience as they perform and feel that love that they show them because it is very special and I wish a lot more kids could experience that.”

For more information, visit youththeatreworks.com.

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu. 

Samira Felix, a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is news editor for the Campus Times. She previously served as a staff writer.

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