Anne fans rejoice. Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic novel about a big-hearted, redheaded orphan, will be brought to life at the Pikes Peak Center in four performances March 5, 6 and 7.
Adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette in 1989, the 300-plus-page novel is condensed into 90 minutes of family entertainment. Set designer Nancy Hankin places Green Gables, Anne's Prince Edward Island home, in center stage; she has created two platforms stage right and stage left to become different parts of the town of Avonlea.
This particular production consists entirely of local talent, coordinated by the folks at the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration.
"We have some incredible talent in the Pikes Peak region," said Amber Carlton, production manager of the show (she will also appear as Miss Rogerson, the Sunday school teacher). "From the smallest kids to the oldest adults, this whole cast has really come together."
In rehearsal since Feb. 2, the hard-working cast sometimes works four nights a week for three hours at a time. Director Rhonda Greder-Kimble has been amazing, several actors agree. Between juggling scenes at rehearsal and making sure that every performer in a cast of 35 gets personal attention, Kimble has her hands full.
According to one of her actors, she's well up to the challenge. "[Rhonda] speaks on several levels to make the picture of the scene happen," said Caryl Thomason. "We do it for love," she added.
Thomason plays Anne's nosy neighbor Rachael Lynde. A singer and an actress, Thomason is also assistant superintendent of School District 12. She has been active for years in the Opera Theatre of the Rockies and the Colorado Springs Chorale and met her husband onstage at the Fine Arts Center.
Another cast member with Fine Arts Center experience is Bob Armstrong, an Air Force meteorologist turned graphics illustrator. Armstrong has served as stage manager in many youth outreach theater programs; he has appeared in "18 or so" productions in the last seven years, and will play Matthew, the taciturn man who, with his sister Marilla, adopts Anne.
Also among the cast are many veteran community actors including Leah Chandler Mills and Eve Tilley.
Anne is played by Black Forest resident Taylor Kruse, the oldest of seven children. Kruse, a ballet dancer, is excited about her first dramatic performance.
Kruse shared her ideas with the Independent regarding Anne's development as a character.
"In the beginning, she has an idea of what life is supposed to be like. But during the course of the play, she learns what a real family is. You know, at first, she loves the life she has in her imagination, but by the end of the play, she loves life for what it is," said Kruse.
"I think Anne of Green Gables really reflects what the Imagination Celebration is all about," said production manager Carlton of the play. "It's about being fearless and idealistic, and coming together as a community, and using imagination to make a dream happen. That's what we do."
-- J.N. Nail
Anne of Green Gables
A Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration production
Friday, March 5 Sunday, March 7: School showing Friday, 10 a.m. only, $3/seat, call Melinda Stephen at 495-1932 to reserve. Public shows Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 2:30 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
$9.50 for reserved seats
Call 520-SHOW for reservations