Seamstress Margaret Moreira takes over part of the HUB hallway to work on costumes. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Seamstress Margaret Moreira takes over part of the HUB hallway to work on costumes. Photo by Barbara Roden.

Theatre Diaries 5: Into the home stretch

It’s less than two weeks to opening night, and the rehearsal schedule is intense.

Less than two weeks to go until opening night of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, and not only are we off book (no scripts or scores on stage); we don’t even have the lifeline of being able to call “Line!” so stage manager Jessica Clement can prompt us.

Now that we are off book, director Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan is focussing on details: asking an actor to punch up the delivery of a certain line, or inserting a bit of movement into a scene that is somewhat static. At one rehearsal I’m told that my reaction to a certain piece of news suggests that I’m about to have a heart attack, and asks that I play it as if the news confirms something my character already knew: somewhat smug, as opposed to looking as if I need smelling salts.

Blocking was done at the very first rehearsals; but now that she can see us without our scripts in our hands, moving more naturally, some of the blocking changes slightly. Mavourneen is also open to new ideas. At one rehearsal, a young cast member is doing cartwheels between scenes, and Mavourneen asks her if she can do a couple of cartwheels during one of her entrances. “Sure!” is the immediate—and enthusiastic—response; followed seconds later by “Won’t I be wearing a dress, though?”

Yes, she will; so the call goes out to seamstress Margaret Moreira for a pair of bloomers. This is in addition to the pinafores and dresses that have had to be made from scratch, and the seemingly endless alterations to various pieces of costume. Margaret takes it all in stride, arriving at each rehearsal with a newly-altered (or created) stack of costumes.

READ MORE: Theatre Diaries 1 – The first run-through

READ MORE: Theatre Diaries 2 – Getting started

READ MORE: Theatre Diaries 3 – Tricky blocking and a trick telegram

READ MORE: Theatre Diaries 4 – Off book, so time to nail those lines

Set designer Jim Duncan and his crew have been hard at work on the set pieces, as well as various props that have to be constructed. A cabinet appears for the general store, and a wooden fence for the schoolyard scenes. A piece of balcony rail leans against the wall in our rehearsal space at the HUB. An ice cream churn—a vital prop for the final scene in Act One—has been located, and it and the other props are stacked around the rehearsal room.

Cast members Vivian McLean (Anne), Theresa Takacs (Marilla Cuthbert), and Jim Mertel (Matthew Cuthbert) are fitted with costumes during one rehearsal, and whisked into Kelly Tuohey’s photography studio across the hall. I sneak in to watch the shoot, and am amazed by the transformation. Vivian’s short brown hair has been replaced by a red wig done up in pigtails, and suddenly she is Anne of Green Gables, her beaming smile lighting up the room.

The new ticket system put in place for this production means seats can be reserved in advance; and word so far is that people appreciate the opportunity to book for the performance of their choice, rather than show up on the night and hope there’s room. We’re given the encouraging news that tickets are selling fast, and are also pleased to hear that some residents of Thompson View Lodge and Manor and Jackson House will be attending the matinee on November 5. It’s always good to see them.

It’s less than two weeks until opening night, and the rehearsal schedule is daunting. On October 23 we all receive a message from Mavourneen, saying she knows we can do this. However, she adds that it’s crucial that everyone be there for all rehearsals, going forward. “If you are not feeling well, or are exhausted, or had a bad day, leave it at the door and fake it ‘till you make it—it’s called acting.” We’ve come this far; we can make it.

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical is at the Ashcroft HUB at 7 p.m. on November 2, 3, and 4, and at 1 p.m. on November 4 and 5. Tickets are $15 (adults/seniors) and $10 (children; those under six are free) in advance, and can be purchased at the HUB or online at Tickets are $20 (adults/seniors) and $15 (children) at the door.

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