Last week, I attended a new musical at the The Guild, Rainbow Valley. This theatre already has ties to Anne Shirley as it also shows Anne and Gilbert during the summer season.
Adapted from L.M. Montgomery's novel, the musical was original written in the late 1990s by Hank Stinton and composer Dean Burry. It was initially run in 2000 as a children’s show, but eighteen-years-later, Rainbow Valley is back. Taking place during the 1920s, the musical is about Revered Meredith and his four rowdy children moving to Glen St. Mary and discovering a mysterious girl named Mary in their attic. It also delves into the love story between Reverend Meredith and Rosemary West.
The play was put on by ACT PEI, an amateur community theatre association that has been operating since the mid 1990s. Its mission is to encourage amateur theatre on the Island and help develop member's acting skills. The experience of starring in a play like this is a great opportunity for members of the community to gather and put on a show, while gaining valuable experience in the theatre industry.
The play strays from the novel in some noticeable ways. While the novel focuses on Anne and Gilbert's children, the play focuses on the Meredith children and Mary Vance. Indeed, Anne and Gilbert are not mentioned in the play. Instead, it sticks to the romance between John Meredith and Rosemary West.
The younger members do a wonderful job of bringing energy and enthusiasm to the production to the story of the Meredith children, while they play together and explore their new home.
The show includes fun, upbeat musical numbers, such as “Something in our Attic”, “Ephigenia Wiley” and “Four Winds.”
The stage was set up to allow quick scenery changes, such as when the unfolding of wooden backdrops changed from a forest to a decorated room in the home. One the most creative settings was the graveyard, which gave a spooky backdrop for the song, “Ephigenia Wiley." Another interesting moment was when the Meredith children are singing "Something in our Attic," only to find Mary Vance hiding under a blanket on a raised platform.
The intimate setting at The Guild makes the audience feel as if they’re taking part in the story. And, watching this play is like stepping back in time It is enjoyable for all ages, lifelong Montgomery readers, and also those who are new to the story.