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ACT’s “Anne Of Green Gables” For Young And Young At Heart



The Archbold Community Theatre production of “Anne of Green Gables” brings to life the story of an orphan girl, who, like a stray kitten, arrives at a new home unwanted, but eventually wins over everyone’s heart and becomes family.

The cast is large, because many of the characters appear twice; once as children, and again as adults.

Anne Shirley, the title character, is played at age 11 by McKenna Towns, Bryan. At the age of 16, Cassie Beck, Pettisville takes over. Both girls do an excellent job with the role. It’s impossible to judge who plays it better.

The same can be said of the two actresses who play Diana Barry, Anne’s best friend. Moriah Reichert, Archbold, plays Diana at age 11; Emma McCashen takes over the role when Diana turns 16.

In fact, all the youngsters do fine work on the ACT stage. There were a couple of cases of, “No, you stand here, and I stand here!” But it’s nothing that detracted from the show.

The adults really shine, and perhaps none more than Donna Kinsman, Archbold, as Marilla Cuthbert. Marilla is the spinster sister who lives on the Green Gables farm with her brother Matthew, played by Joel Kirkwood, Grand Rapids.

Marilla starts out as a firm, staunch old woman, who demands order in her home. When the daydreaming, imaginative Anne shows up, Marilla handles her with an iron fist.

But as the play rolls on and time passes, Marilla softens her grip, and sides with Anne. In her monologues to the audience, you can hear Kinsman’s Marilla express her exasperation with Anne, Matthew, and her neighbors.

Kirkwood’s Matthew is a treat as well. More relaxed and open than Marilla, he takes to Anne immediately.

Where Kirkwood’s talent lies is in aging Matthew as the years pass. As Matthew gets older, Kirkwood moves like an old man, with stiff joints and various aches and pains. Without changing anything, the audience can see Matthew age, right up to his death.

Fairy Riter, Stryker, is Rachel Lynde, the town busybody and gossip, a fact that Marilla confirms to young Anne early on. Early in the play, she insults Anne to her face and the youngster fires back. In the end, she becomes a dear friend. Riter plays the part perfectly.

Jan Delaney, Archbold, also deserves praise as Mrs. Barry, the mother of Diana.

The busiest part of the crew for this show has to be those who work in lighting. The relatively small Giffey Hall stage has to be many places, so the lighting seems to be constantly changing.

One minute, the house, actually just a dining room with a stairway leading off stage, is lit, and the rest of the stage is in darkness. Then there will be a switch, as the action shifts to the other side of the stage.

Yet for all lighting changes, there was never a miscue.

Young girls, and the young at heart, will probably enjoy “Anne of Green Gables” the most.

Archbold Community Theatre presents “Anne of Green Gables” three more times: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1- 2, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Oct. 3, at 2:30 pm.–David
Pugh

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Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.– Reinhold Niebhur



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