Kathleen D. Bailey
EPPING – Marilla Cuthbert, played by Rowan Nguyen, placed her hands on her hips and watched the 12-year-old stand quietly in front of her.
” Where is the boy ? Nguyen said, his words coming like gunshots. “We sent for a boy.”
With these words, Nguyen lays the groundwork for a story that has delighted generations of American and Canadian children, as well as their adults. The story is “Anne … the Green Gable House”, and it opens December 3 at Epping Playhouse.
Anne Shirley is Canadians’ favorite red-haired orphan and is linked to “Annie” for America’s. The story follows âAnne with an Eâ Shirley as she arrives at a farm in Prince Edward Island after two middle-aged siblings decide to take care of a child from an orphanage. While Marilla and her brother Matthew are disappointed that they don’t get a boy to help with the housework, the chatty and imaginative Anne wins their hearts with the rest of the island.
Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery published the book in 1908. She wrote several sequels, and the original story sold 50 million copies, has been translated into 35 languages, and has seen many versions on large. screen, small screen and stage.
Lesley Gallagher, director of Epping Playhouse, said she was using an adaptation of Peter De Laurier.
This version follows Anne from 12 to 17, and Gallagher was determined to cast three Years, one for each age level.
âIt gives me more actors to work with,â she said.
The three Anne’s are Estelle Carr, Anne at 12; Cassidy Green, Anne at 14; and Sadie Currier, Anne at 17.
Green is a freshman at Dover High School and has appeared in several productions, both at the Epping Community Theater and at its predecessor, the Leddy Center. She has been in sets for “Annie”, “The Wizard of Oz”, a singer in “A Christmas Carol” and an Oompa Loompa in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. “Anne … the house of green gables” is her first leading role.
Green had heard of the book, but had never read it. When she read the script for Epping’s production she got hooked and said, “I love the script. I love the script.”
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And she had no trouble channeling herself towards Anne.
âShe’s brash, but firm in her beliefs,â Green said. “I love his wit, I even love his character!”
Sadie Currier from Brentwood plays Anne, 17.
Currier, who is in first grade at Exeter High School, has been performing since second grade and has done “Alice @ Wonderland” in Epping as well as several shows with the Pine Street Players in Exeter. Her other shows were all musicals, she said, and “Anne” is her first consecutive play.
Currier channels her own experiences to play Anne, explaining that Anne enters a whole new world, much like Currier’s trajectory as a freshman in high school.
âWe’re both going through a lot of changes,â she said.
She loves Anne because the fictional character is highly motivated and academically competitive.
âShe’s bright, energetic, quirky – a fun character to play,â Currier said.
The challenges for Currier include playing a character older than her and “a lot of monologues,” she said.
Estelle Carr’s credits include Molly’s role in “Annie” at the Epping Playhouse when she was 6 years old. She also did “Alice @ Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz” with the band and attended several summer theater camps.
The Chester Academy seventh-grader said her mother discovered her starring role before she did. âI was so happy that I panicked,â she said.
Carr loves Anne because of the character’s imagination.
âShe wants people to understand life, and she doesn’t focus on evil,â Carr said.
In addition to the three Anne’s, Nguyen is Marilla and Greg deZarn-O’Hare plays Matthieu.
Gallagher has volunteered at the Epping Playhouse, but this is her first time there. She received an email from the president of the Epping Community Theater, Brian Miskinis, suggesting that she come and put on a show. She introduced “Anne” to Epping and it was accepted.
Gallagher said they threw everything away and ready to repeat when COVID hit in March 2020. COVID shut down community theater for a year and a half, but when the restrictions were lifted, Gallagher was ready.
“We started rehearsing again in September,” she said.
This is Epping’s first production since the pandemic, although the group held their drama camp last summer and the campers produced a show for their families.
The play will begin on Friday, December 3 and will take place on December 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. and on December 5 and 12 at 2 p.m.