Something Wonderful is Happening in Auburn
There have been few times in my personal history when I have been more in need of a little spiritual uplift. On Tuesday afternoon, my spirits soared, when we went on a joyous journey to Avonlea courtesy of the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival and its wonderful production of “Anne of Green Gables.” Billed as a folk/rock musical, I found little folky or rocky about it. What I found was musical theatre brilliance performed by a cast of mostly young people who sing and dance and act with their voices, their bodies, and their hearts.
McKenzie Custin as title character Anne Shirley is this musical. This delightful young woman has a remarkable voice, a sweetly expressive face, and the ability to act, to be someone else, equal to that of older, more established performers. Her performance was one of the best I have seen in the last several years, which includes two visits to New York to see FIDDLER, WAITRESS, and SUNSET BOULEVARD. The next time the role of Elfaba opens in Broadways’s WICKED, McKenzie should get it. She would be magical.
Tremendous credit should go to the other actors, too. The five adults, two of whom take multiple roles, and the cast of kids cavorting about the stage for nearly 3 hours. Director Jenn Thompson and Choreographer Jennifer Jancuska are so talented in creating movement, fashioning interaction, and drawing beautiful stage pictures. Of course, the creators Matte O’Brien and Matt Vinson deserve huge applause for devising this magical adaptation of the novel.
Attending ANNE OF GREEN GABLES is like attending a world premiere. I could find mention of only one other production since the show was birthed at “The Pitch,” which is FMT’s annual musical incubator two summers ago, I believe. ANNE runs until the 25th of this month. Get a ticket if you can. Don’t be surprised if they are all gone.
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES Cast
Mckenzie Custin (National tour: All Hands on Deck, Regional: Newsies and Mary Poppins at Centenary Stage Co.) makes her festival debut as titular character Anne Shirley; with Nancy Anderson (Broadway: Sunset Boulevard, A Wonderful Life, Wonderful Town, A Class Act) and D.C. Anderson (Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, National tour: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Pippin, Martin Guerre, The Phantom of the Opera) as siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert; Chris McCarrell (Broadway: Les Miserables, Off Broadway: The Lightning Thief) as Gilbert Blythe and Michelle Veintimilla (Broadway: The Visit) as Diana Barry. Dawn Troupe will be playing the role of Rachel Lynde; with Alan Ariano as Mr. Blythe/Mr. Phillips and Angela Travino as Mrs. Barry/Miss Stacy.