Special to the Record
It is early on a Tuesday morning and the stage floor of Courtenay Little Theatre’s warehouse rehearsal space is completely covered with a massive, colourful quilt in progress.
It will become a backdrop for Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, depicting the fictional rural P.E.I community of Avonlea. Standing amongst the many scraps of material laid out in intricate patterns, set designer Jay Crowder consults with one of the volunteer quilters creating the fabric landscape of farms, ocean, town and country.
Surrounding this busy quilting bee are stacks of multi-purpose set pieces and tables piled high with props. Some of the set carpentry has been done by Vanier high school’s senior construction class, who worked for three weeks under the friendly eyes of CLT set construction head Bruce Taylor and their teacher, Troy Dakiniewich.
Apart from learning about residential construction on a small scale, Dakiniewich feels his class benefited from participating in the community in a unique way that allowed students who wouldn’t normally be interested in the theatre to get involved.
In the back of the warehouse space, Gail Limber and her energetic 10 woman costume team drink tea in their cozy wardrobe corner as they stitch beautiful 19th century costumes by hand, and assemble hats from the extensive CLT collection for the dozens of characters who will be brought to life by the thirty-eight actors in the show.
Working in and around this creative and organized chaos, director Brian Mather has been rehearsing Anne of Green Gables – The Musical since early October in order to prepare for the December performances at the Sid Williams Theatre.
His actors, ranging in age from six to 76 years old, have been working hard every weekend and three weekday evenings on the 23 scenes under his direction, and that of choreographer, Natasha Kozak, and musical director, Denise Marquette. On Sunday nights after acting rehearsals finish, the pit orchestra meets for several hours to learn and play the musical score.
Mather describes the story of Anne of Green Gables as being about belonging, finding your relationship to your community and where and how you fit in.
The young heroine, Anne Shirley, learns that she can provide love and leadership to others, and her quest changes the lives of those in her village. It seems fitting that a play with these themes is being created through the volunteered time and talents of the members of the Courtenay Little Theatre.
Midway through the rehearsal period, the directors, actors and production teams have begun to see the fruits of their labours as they prepare for their creation’s is unveiling over the Christmas holidays. At that point, the final essential members of the community, the audience, will join in and complete the picture.
Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, by Don Harron, the third of three Canadian plays put on in 2017 by Courtenay Little Theatre in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, will be performed Dec. 23 and 27 to 31 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
Ticket information is available at sidwilliamstheatre.com (250) 338-2430 ext. 1 or in person at the ticket office 442 Cliffe Ave. Tickets are $25 individual for evening shows, $23 for 2 p.m. matinées on Dec. 23, 26, and 30. Discounted FlexPass tickets are also available.