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Theatre / Anne of Green Gables

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A successful musical adaptation of the famous Canadian novel of the same name, with music and lyrics by Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell, Don Harron and Mavor Moore.

The musical is generally faithful to the book's plot, though it does omit some key subplots and elements like Anne's falling out with Mrs. Barry, Anne falling off the ridgepole, and Anne being rescued from the river by Gilbert. However, the show takes full advantage of the fact that it is a musical, turns nearly all the remaining elements Up to Eleven and establishes its own quirky identity with its offbeat sense of humour and classic Broadway sound. It enthusiastically lampoons the cultural attitudes of its period setting, and functions as a sort of Affectionate Parody of the source material.

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Anne has been running continuously ever since 1965, and in March 2014, Guinness World Records recognized it as the longest-running annual musical theatre production in the world.


This musical provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mrs. Blewett, who locks her kids up in the woodshed until feeding time.
  • Anachronism Stew: The pageant is a probably intentional example. It depicts "Eskimos" living in Canada during the ice age, followed by the "Red Indian" and seems to imply that Vikings were contemporary with French and British explorers.
  • Black Comedy: The musical makes great use of this at times (see Darker and Edgier and Deliberate Values Dissonance below), most notably Mr. Phillips' brief innuendo-laden solo during "If It Hadn't Been For Me" about "attending to the needs" of his female students.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From the song "Summer":
    Tillie, Tommy and Gertie: We found a gorgeous seashell.
    Ruby and Moody: We found some lic'rice root!
    Charlie: I found the hired girl swimming in her birthday suit.
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  • Condescending Compassion: The song "Great Workers For the Cause" is all about this.
  • Cultural Posturing: The children perform a musical number in the talent show describing Prince Edward Island as "The Heart of the World, set in the crossroads of the sea."
  • Darker and Edgier: While still very lighthearted, the musical definitely has a darker edge to its humour than the book and previous adaptations.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The show does not shy away from portraying and satirizing the cultural norms of the setting, including the racist, xenophobic and colonial attitudes, and the often creepy relationships between male teachers and female students.
  • Gratuitous Latin: While lamenting the passing of Summer and the return of school, the children sing the phrase "Sic transit gloria mundi" which translates to "Thus passes the glory of the world".
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  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Phillips is easily the nastiest person in the show, but gets no comeuppance aside from being forced to marry the teenage girl he impregnated.
  • Mistaken for Dying: By the time the news of Anne breaking her slate over Gilbert's head reaches Marilla, the story has been exaggerated to such an extent that the whole town thinks he is dying in the hospital from a grievous head injury.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Anne has shades of this, as established early on with her shockingly gory explanation for why Prince Edward Island's roads are red.
  • Noble Savage: The pageant's portrayal of the "Proud Red Indian", due to (possibly intentional) Values Dissonance.
  • Politically Correct History: Enthusiastically averted.
  • Roll in the Hay: The picnic scene has Mr. Phillips and Prissy entering stage with him plucking bits of straw off her back.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Implied between Mr. Phillips and Prissy Andrews.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Mr. Phillips and Prissy, obviously.
  • Teen Pregnancy: The result of the above Teacher/Student Romance.
  • Up to Eleven: A meta example. As stated above, the musical is Anne of Green Gables taken up to eleven. Gilbert is thought to be "good as dead" after his first encounter with Anne's fiery temper, Mr. Phillips and Prissy's relationship is upgraded from a presumably chaste affair to something much more illicit, the children perform a full-blown rehearsed musical number at the concert, and many of the locals harbor some shockingly racist colonial attitudes.
  • Villain Song: Josie Pye is not exactly a villain, but she is Anne's main rival and her song "Did You Hear" definitely has the flavour of a villain song.
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