October 14, 2022
By Woodrow Kolomvos
(Photo: Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet. Photo by Jim Orgill.)
Beloved Canadian classic “Anne of Green Gables” is coming to The Rose Brampton on October 19th to tell the heartwarming adventures of Anne Shirley through dance.
“Anne of Green Gables” is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L. M. Montgomery). Set in the late 19th century, the historical children’s novel follows the story of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to two middle-aged siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who intended to adopt a boy that could help them with their farm at Green Gables. The scene is set in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. After a rough start with the Cuthberts, Anne begins to make her way through life, with her imagination and childlike joy bringing a new colourful light to Green Gables.
Since its publication, “Anne of Green Gables” has solidified its significance in Canadian literature history, becoming one of the best-selling books worldwide. The timeless story has been adapted countless times as films, television films, animated and live-action television series, and musicals and plays.
Canada’s own Ballet Jörgen (CBJ) is the producer of this influential show. Originally debuting in Toronto during July earlier this year following several postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this evocative production has already been praised for its vibrant and masterful presentation of the beloved story. Ballet Jörgen itself is a monumental figure in Canadian choreography. Founded in 1987, the company has focused almost exclusively on producing classics and original story ballets by Canadians, bringing their shows across Canada and the United States. Priding itself on integrating diverse dancers into its productions, Ballet Jörgen brings its work to disadvantaged communities to spread the live performing arts to those who may otherwise not have access to it.
Bengt Jörgen, Ballet Jörgen’s CEO, artistic director, and principal choreographer, spearheaded the vision of a “Anne of Green Gables” dance production. After years of conceptualization and convincing to secure the rights to get the wheels of the show into motion, Jörgen was finally able to bring his artistic vision for the world-renowned story to life.
The production shares much in common with Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™, the stage musical adaptation of the story. First presented in Charlottetown, PEI, in 1965, the musical holds the Guinness World Record title as the longest running annual musical. The musical was written and composed by Canadian playwrights Don Harron and Norman Campbell respectively, with lyrics by Elaine Campbell and Mavor Moore. The ballet uses Campbell’s score, which has been adjusted to be better suited to support the production’s dance, was reworked by Russian composer Alexander Levkovich.
To bring to life the novel’s famous characters, the production casted a diverse array of talented performers. For the role of the ebullient Anne Shirley, Halifax native Hannah Mae Cruddas, known for her previous roles in CBJ productions such as “Anastasia” and “Coppélia” (in the title roles), “Swan Lake” (Pas de Trois), “Romeo and Juliet” (Lady Capulet), and “Cinderella” (Lead Fairy), passionately takes the stage. Anne’s loyal best friend, Diana Barry, is played by Japanese native Akari Fujiwara, and Brazilian born Daniel Da Silva plays the charming and mischievous classmate of Anne, Gilbert Blythe. Anne’s adoptive parents, siblings Matthrew and Marilla Cuthbert are played by Hiroto Saito and Clea Iveson respectively.
Bringing the world of Anne Shirley alive, CBJ’s adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables” is full of giddy imagination, joyous youth, and hopeful spirit. If you would like to be a part of witnessing this legacy of Montgomery’s classic, you can find details about tickets and showtimes here. You can also learn more about what happens behind the curtain by watching the ballet’s official documentary film “This Is Ballet: Dancing Anne of Green Gables”, available for free online through Plex and Tubi.