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Anne of Green Gables to premiere on May 2 at Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

camille blott

Camille Blott of Claresholm has the lead role in Anne of Green Gables.

VICKI ARNDT – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
A classic Prince Edward Island story known around the world is about to be retold on the Empress Theatre stage.
Actors and actresses from Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Granum and Claresholm will star in Anne of Green Gables, which premieres on Thursday, May 2.
Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables was adapted into a musical with music by Norman Campbell and lyrics by Don Harron.
“This musical was carefully chosen by the Empress Theatre centennial committee in 2012 as the finale to our year-long centennial celebration,” director Erin Bourke-Henderson said.
The Empress Theatre turned 100 on June 28, 2012.
Auditions for Anne of Green Gables were held in January.
“The auditions were a lot of fun,” Henderson said. “I had no idea the amount of hidden talent we have here.”
Camille Blott of Claresholm was chosen to play the starring role of Anne, an orphan who was adopted by brother and sister pair Marilla, played by Petula Hofer of Fort Macleod, and Matthew Cuthbert, played by Sebastian David of Fort Macleod. David played the role of Matthew with the Fort Players in 1981.
Tel Sillito of Fort Macleod makes his return to the Empress stage as Gilbert Blythe, the handsome young fellow who develops a crush on Anne the moment he meets the fiery, young red-headed girl. Sillito was seen during the summer of 2012 performing the role of James in the Empress production of The Boys Own Jedi Handbook.
“We’ve got a great cast with loads of talented singers,” said David, who is also the production manager for the musical. “It was encouraging to be able to cast people from Claresholm, Granum and Pincher Creek as well.”
Earl the mailman is played by Dino Vizzutti of Claresholm. Malcolm Andrews is being played by Spencer Vandellen, also from Claresholm. From Pincher Creek, Alexandra Morgan plays Diana Anne’s best friend, while Elliot Nemeth plays Moody Macpherson.
Other cast members are Denise Joel as Mrs. Barry, Dona Bengtson as Mrs. Pye, Susan Wilde as Mrs. Lynde, Candice Larson as Mrs. Macpherson, Catherine Woodman as Mrs. Sloane, Laura Martin as Mrs. Spencer, Jenn Wolstenholme as Miss Stacy, Lacey Poytress as Lucilla, Greg Wilson as Mr. Phillips, Chris Adamiak as Cecil the farmer, Bart Heine as the minister, Brent Hutchinson as the station master, Hannah Bullock and Katie Bullock as Josie Pye and Gertie Pye, Noema Fournier as Ruby Gillis, Patrick Harris as Charlie Sloane, Hudson Scott as Tommy Sloane, Tyese Sillito as Gerry Buote.
The pianist is Michael Ayotte.
“With 32 cast members and many of them from Fort Macleod the stage is going to be fuller than it’s been in years,” David said.
Henderson is a familiar face to the Empress stage, having played the role of Piera in the 2012 Empress Theatre centennial production The Stage That Made Us.
Henderson has also been seen in Empress Productions Worry Wart and Tornado Magnet. She was cast and filmed in an independent full length feature movie filmed in Lethbridge, Alberta titled Common Chord.
Musical director Laura Glover of Fort Macleod has a master’s degree in voice and years of teaching experience at Keyano College.
Shauna Fournier, who runs Silhouette’s Dance Studio in Fort Macleod, is in charge of choreography.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery has sold more than 50-million copies world-wide and has been translated into 20 different languages. It has been adapted for animated and live-action television series, movies, musicals and plays.
The musical first debuted as a television movie on CBC in 1956. In 1965 the full stage version has been performed annually at the Charlottetown Festival, making it Canada’s longest running musical.
Anne of Green Gables recounts Anne’s journey from an orphanage in Nova Scotia to a farm run by brother-sister duo Marilla and Matthew.
Marilla intended to adopt a boy to help on their farm, but to her surprise, young, witty, sharp-tongued Anne arrived. Marilla’s attempts to offload Anne elsewhere ultimately lead Marilla to taking a liking to Anne and adopting her.
Anne gains acceptance from the town folk, journeys through school mishaps and blunders and eventually emerges as a witty young woman who even earns a scholarship for post-secondary education.
Following the May 2 premiere, Anne of Green Gables will be performed May 3, May 4, May 9, May 10 and May 11. Show time is 7 p.m.

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