When the team at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre started thinking about what to stage for their 2022 holiday production, they realized that a beloved East Coast classic could be the perfect fit. But while Anne of Green Gables––The Musical might seem a slightly incongruous choice, the show’s director says its makes perfect sense.

“For our first full holiday show since coming back, we really thought a lot about what audiences need right now,” says Barbara Tomasic, who is also Gateway’s Director of Artistic Programs. “We quickly recognized that people want to come together again and feel a sense of joy in their community.”

What’s it all about?

A celebrated children’s novel published by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, Anne of Green Gables follows the adventures of a red-haired orphan sent by mistake to the small P.E.I. town of Avonlea. Via a series of trials and tribulations––which Anne tackles with hope, energy and imagination––the youngster ultimately wins over the entire town, helping its residences to grow in the process.

The musical version of Montgomery’s story was written in 1965 and has been performed on the East Coast almost every year since––in fact, the Guinness Book of Records has recognized it as the world’s longest-running annual musical production. The show has also played in London, New York and Japan, a country where Montgomery’s story has a fervent following.

But while Tomasic says many West Coasters might not be as familiar with the musical’s wide array of heartfelt show tunes, much-loved songs such as Ice Cream and Open the Window are “so beautiful that you’ll definitely be humming them as you leave the theatre.”

And that’s not the only toe-tapping treat for keen music fans in the audience at this Gateway holiday show. “Unlike other musicals, we have our musicians playing live on stage. The actors often pass between them during their scenes and it creates a real East Coast kitchen party feel,” says Tomasic.

Kyra Leroux plays Anne Shirley in Gateway Theatre’s Anne of Green Gables––The Musical | Photo Credit: David Cooper

What about Anne?

For any production of Montgomery’s much-cherished tale, the casting of the charismatic title character is, of course, key. And Tomasic says they are delighted to have highly accomplished local-born actor Kyra Leroux as their Anne. “She grew up as a singer and dancer but she moved into film and TV when stage work became scarce over the past couple of years. Now she is quite famous as a character in the TV show Riverdale, so we are expecting fans of that show to be in the audience as well.”

According to Tomasic, Leroux has wanted to play this character since she was introduced to the story as a small child. And along with having red hair in real life just like Anne, she has the perfect predisposition for the role. “Kyra is such a generous spirit and she’s also a really lovely performer,” says Tomasic.

But she won’t be the only Lower Mainlander on stage in the show, which has a larger-than-usual cast of 18. “We have lots of Richmond kids in this production and many of them are from our Gateway Academy theatre classes. There are also alumni from past productions as well as other great local actors––it’s a really beautiful representation or our diverse community.” 

Kyra Leroux plays Anne Shirley in Gateway Theatre’s Anne of Green Gables––The Musical | Photo Credit: David Cooper

Who is it for?

An ideal show to bring the family to, there’s no need to know the Anne of Green Gables story before arriving at the theatre, says Tomasic. “Fans of the books will definitely enjoy themselves. But the themes are so universal that everyone will find something to connect with. For example, anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will appreciate the way this show makes them feel loved and seen.”

And anyone who loves musicals should also hotfoot over. “This is a rare chance to see this show in B.C. It hasn’t been produced here for some time and it might not be here again for a while,” says Tomasic, adding that the Gateway team can’t wait to raise the curtain on their holiday production. “This is such a fun and joyous show, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming the community back into the theatre again.”

If you go: Gateway Theatre’s Anne of Green Gables––The Musical runs from December 15 to 31. Tickets are priced from $35 and can be booked via the theatre’s website.

Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by Tourism Richmond