The students of Sonorous Road Productions deserved every bit of the resounding applause they received for their work on Anne of Green Gables, written and directed by Michelle Murray Wells. The play, adapted from the 1908 novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, tells the story of 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley. She has been mistakenly sent to the home of middle-aged brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who wanted to adopt a boy to help them on their farm. Although the Cuthberts initially intend to send her back to the orphanage, Anne works her way into their hearts, and they keep her and raise her.
During opening night’s curtain speech, Wells told us that the actors ranged in age from seven to 16 and that, for the majority of the students, this would be their first-ever full length play.
A show like this needs a strong performance from its title character, and Aubin Rosenfelder delivers in spades. She exudes the character’s eternal optimism and her headstrong honesty. The relationships between her and the other characters are honest and thoroughly believable.
Ruthie Witter’s Marilla shows the tenderness and the caring that we would expect as this relationship grows. Kedric Sherle, as Matthew, gives us a character that is easily won over by Anne. He is delightful in the scenes in which Matthew and Anne “conspire.”
Kaitlyn Brooks does a good job of showing us both sides of Mrs. Lynde, a neighbor whom we intuit to be initially “anti-Anne” but who is eventually won over as well.
The rest of the cast is equally delightful in their roles as children and adults with whom Anne interacts as she grows. In addition to playing their roles, the cast handled all of the multiple set-changes. To their credit (and their director’s), these changes were well choreographed and smoothly executed (on a darkened stage!).
The set, by Jeff Nugent, creates multiple acting areas including three rooms in the Cuthberts’ home, a train station, a horse-drawn wagon, and a school-room. The use of multiple levels is a good touch.
Costumes, by Mary Beth Wright, are authentic and well-chosen; sound, by Shelley Snapp, includes some very appropriate guitar and piano music between scenes; and lighting, by Josh Wells, is executed without a hitch.
Our Department of Picky-Picky has two observations:
- One scene was performed too far downstage left, so it was difficult for most of the audience to see.
- While “notes in the program” are often unnecessary and tedious, this production could have been better appreciated if a thumbnail sketch introduction had been included. It would have been especially helpful if we had been aware of the characters’ ages in advance and if we had an idea of how much time would pass in the lives of the characters.
Student productions often have to be “spotted a few points.” That is, the tendency is to expect to have to be forgiving of certain shortcomings. Not so with this show. Sonorous Road’s student production of Anne of Green Gables is not just good “student theater”; it is good “community theater.” These actors promise to be welcome additions to our theater community, and we welcome them.
AND: If this show is representative of what we can expect from Sonorous Road Productions’ acting classes, we say: “Bring us more!”
Sonorous Road Productions presents ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, written and directed by Michelle Murray Wells, at 7 p.m. May 21 and 2 p.m. May 22 at 209 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27605.
TICKETS: $16.52 ($13.93 students and seniors), including fees.
Anne of Green Gables (1908 novel): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_Green_Gables (Wikipedia).
Lucy Maud Montgomery (Canadian novelist, 1874-1942): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Maud_Montgomery (Wikipedia).
Michelle Murray Wells (Cary director and founder and artistic director of Sonorous Road Productions): http://www.sonorousroad.com/staff/ (Sonorous Road bio) and https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.wells.9 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.