After a year of hiatus, Nechako Valley Secondary students are back on stage with a Canadian classic set in Prince Edward Island.
From April 21 to 23 and 28 to 30, thirty students of cast and crew will present Anne of Green Gables as a musical in NVSS’s Integris Community Theatre.
Last year, the venue, formerly called the small auditorium, was under renovations, which now provided the space with a new sound and insulation system, LED lighting, a high-definition screen and projector, as well as padded seating.
It’s also the first time that Grade 7 students were included in the production, as they began attending classes in NVSS’s new middle school wing last year, explained director Erin Baker.
The Anne of Green Gables cast includes a large core of younger characters, allowing the newer students to be incorporated into the production easily, Baker said.
Last presented by the school in 1999, the Canadian classic on Vanderhoof’s stage this season may be more lively than its more well-known formats as a book or a TV series — a new adaptation by CBC was announced earlier this year after the 30th anniversary of its first mini-series, she added.
“We try to liven a lot of the chorus numbers with detailed dance choreography, to bring energy to the show,” Baker said.
This year’s production also features many lead characters played by first-timer senior students such as Spring Fawcett, Grade 12, and Matthew Ebert, Grade 11.
Fawcett, having injured her knee while playing rugby, first auditioned to participate in chorus but received two parts.
“I wanted to try something different and get into arts,” Fawcett said. “I thought it would be a walk in the park, but it definitely was not.
“I love it; you really need to get to know your people, and get out of your comfort zone.”
Fawcett plays Ms. Muriel Stacy, the new teacher in the story that serves as a turning point and energizes the students, and Mrs. Spencer, who brought Anne back from the orphanage.
Her favourite part is when Marilla, Matthew, and Anne sing the song “We Clearly Requested a Boy.”
“I would really like to thank Mrs. Baker, Mr. Lardon, and Mr. Sundahl for teaching me that I can do anything that I put my mind to, and just to have fun with it,” Fawcett said.
Ebert plays Mathew Cuthbert, Anne’s father figure, and he’s enjoying his first acting experience so far, especially his death scene, he said.
“[My favourite part] is just getting into the character and interacting with other character, and pretending to be someone else,” Ebert said. “It’s quite fun.”
He finds figuring out how to say various lines the most challenging part.
“It’s difficult to see how would the character do it or say it…that could be challenging but definitely worth it,” he said. “Thanks to Mrs. Baker who taught me all about acting.”
For Grade 11 students Jessi Hartwig and Michael Lybbert, however, the stage is no foreign territory.
Hartwig participated in six different productions, starting in Grade 3. She plays Mrs. Pye, a gossipy mother of a snobby rude girl in the musical.
“It’s fun to just be with all the cast and people,” Hartwig said. “I like watching the school kid [characters] do the nature ballet.”
Lybbert will play Earl the mailman, Charlie Stone, and Tommy Aline’s older brother.
It’s his second time participating in a school production, though he attended drama class since he was Grade 8.
“I like a lot of the singing and choreography, because you get to dance,” Lybbert said. “Musical is not straight dancing or acting, but I’m getting used to it.”