(Posted 9 p.m., May 26)
performance by lead actress makes OYP's Anne of Green
Gables a must-see play
By Fred Sherwin
Audrey Matheson is truly wonderful as Anne
Shirley in the OYP production of 'Anne of
Green Gables' on this weekend at the Shenkman
Arts Centre. Fred Sherwin Photo
As a member of the Orléans Young Players Theatre School,
Audrey Matheson has been learning the craft of acting
for the past eight years, during which time time she has
never played a lead role.
that changed when artistic director Kathi Langston cast
her to play Anne in the recent OYP Student Showcase production
of "Anne of Green Gables".
a word, Matheson was born to play Anne Shirley. She captured
the audience's hearts from her opening scene in which
the brother of her soon-to-be new guardian picks her up
at the train station and takes her back to Green Gables
in a horse drawn buggy.
During the scene Matheson rips through her lines with
an unbridled and reckless abandon that left everyone in
the audience breathless, not to mention the young actress
herself. Her enthusiasm in playing Anne, especially as
a young school girl, was infectious.
while Matheson's performance as Anne was amazing, it wasn't
the only standout performance of the play. Gisele Rivest
did an excellent job as Marilla, and Biz MacDonald was
wonderful self as the town busy-body Rachel Lynde. So
too was Cassie Lavigne who played Anne's bestie Dianna
Barry. In fact, the entire cast who played Anne's school
friends were incredible.
play was an immense challenge for Langston who had to
fill a number of roles including teacher, director, script
writer, and perhaps, most challenging of all, lead wrangler
of the 75-member cast and crew. But somehow she managed
to pull it all together and the result was one of the
most entertaining OYP productions in recent memory.
tells the story of the befreckled, redhaired girl from
her adoption by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert to her graduation
from teachers college and includes a scene in which the
audience gets to learn about Anne's early years before
she arrived at Green Gables, including the death of her
parents and how she ended up in an orphanage.
even a scene at the beginning of the second half of the
play, where Anne's deceased parents talk about how proud
they are of the young lady their daughter has become through
the magic of a voice over.
seen the musical version of "Anne of Green Gables"
at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown
some years back, I was somewhat skeptical that an OYP
class would be able to pull off a non-musical version.
To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
too bad that unlike the Charlottetown production, which
runs all summer, the OYP play was limited to three performances
-- one on Friday night and two on Saturday. Thankfully
I was among the 400 or so souls that saw it.
to the entire cast and crew, and bravo to Kathi Langston
for producing another wonderfully entertaining play.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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