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Petrolia Community Theatre to tell the story of Anne of Green Gables

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Sixteen-year-old Talia Mielke of Sarnia has the lead role in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, which is coming to the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia stage in November. Handout/The Topic

Sixteen-year-old Talia Mielke of Sarnia has the lead role in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, which is coming to the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia stage in November. Handout/The Topic

The Petrolia Community Theatre is bringing Anne of Green Gables: The Musical to the Victoria Playhouse stage in November.

Director Richard Teskey said they chose the production as a way to celebrate Canadian heritage and Canadian creators like Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote the original novel about the famous redhead living on the East Coast.

“Being the 150th anniversary we thought Anne would be one to definitely look at,” he said. “She’s so revered… and the characters themselves are very relatable.”

Teskey said the show is both sweet and sincere, something Petrolia audiences will appreciate. The show is based on playwright Donald Harron’s adapted screenplay, which has been performed every year since 1965 at the Charlottetown Festival. Teskey said he’s hoping it will be a blast from the past for audiences.

“It will take you back to your childhood… if nothing else, living it through Anne’s eyes because she’s such an iconic character,” he said. “There are certain characters that are engrained in our minds, Anne would be one of them.”

Teskey said they are staying true to the well-known and well-loved story, sourcing local talent to take on the roles. He added there is something similar about Petrolia and the setting of Anne of Green Gables, and those taking part in the production are fans of the century-old novel.

“They’re excited to be a part of something they remember,” he said. “There’s a lot of very familiar historical pieces… we’re doing our very best to make it as authentic and sincere and possible.”

Sixteen-year-old Sarnia actress Talia Mielke will be taking on the role of Anne. She’ll even be dying her hair red for the upcoming production. She said the story of Anne has always meant a lot to her.

“I was homeschooled when I was younger, and this was something my mom and I read together and studied,” she said. “It’s a really cool story… it’s an amazing show and people will recognize so many things.”

Mielke, who has been in a number of plays at the Imperial theatre, including Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins, said it’s been an adventure taking on the character of Anne. She said she wants to portray Anne as people remember her, as true to her character as possible.

“I can be imaginative, so I like to incorporate what I do when I imagine sometimes, I bring in little things,” she said. “This is a very well-known story and I don’t want to take away from Anne.”

The play’s storyline revolves around deeply moving moments for characters, as well as instances of success and overcoming adversity, something that Teskey said he’s excited to present to audiences.

“They can expect to be entertained,” he said. “It’s very high quality, we have a full orchestra and a professional music director… everything we’re putting all of our energies into it.”

Teskey said something different they will be doing is having the orchestra on the stage, essentially in the centre of town. He said they are working to present the play in a way that has never been done before, making it their own while making it sure it’s authentic to the original story.

“They’re going to laugh and they’re going to cry… which is what good theatre is made up of,” he said. “It’s going to be a moment where you feel something… and I think you’ll learn something new about the story of Anne, or the history of our country.”



What: Anne of Green Gables: The Musical

Where: Victoria Hall

When: Nov. 15-18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 18-19 at 2 p.m.

Cost: $30 for adults, $25 for students