Alumni Presence in Anne of Green Gables: An Interview with Director Angela Konrad

This March, Trinity Western University invites alumni and community members of all ages to campus for a spectacular production of the beloved classic, Anne of Green Gables. Jonathan Fehr (’09), Community Manager at the TWU Alumni Association, sat down with director of the play, Angela Konrad, in order to conduct an interview on the upcoming production. The following is a copy of their interview.

JF: Hi Angela, thanks for taking the time I meet with me. I’d like to start off by asking some questions about the production. Why was Anne of Green Gables chosen for this year? When was it selected, and were you always slated to direct it?

AK: We always choose our season the spring before so we decided on this around February of 2018. Yes, I was always the director. We chose it because we were looking for a musical that enabled us to involve alumni and children (and possibly children of alumni!) alongside current TWU students and the demographic for this one was perfect. We wanted a show with dance, that was family-friendly, and that had a heart-warming classic story. Anne of Green Gables is all that and more!

JF: It sure is! So is there anything specific that makes this play special to you as a director?

AK: I saw the show at the Charlottetown Festival when I was a child and I talked like Anne for days afterwards. I took my children to see it there. I’m a fan of LM Montgomery and my parents are from the Maritimes so I feel a real connection to the land and the people. I always loved the Anne stories and I grew up planning to live in PEI. This is the closest I’ve gotten. J The musical is so much fun – playful, imaginative, energetic, heart-warming, and funny. Plus, it’s full of dance. What’s not to like?

JF: That’s a lot of great reason to attend. What would you say to people to get them excited to come if they haven’t quite decided if it’s worth seeing?

AK: If you need more than what I said above… This is a classic, Canadian story centered around our most famous heroine, enlivened by sing-along music and toe-tapping dance numbers. It’s fun for the whole family. It is a unique opportunity to see a large musical in an intimate space so you really get to be part of the fun. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and leave you with a song in your heart. It’s a cliché but this show really does have something for everyone

JF: How many TWU Alumni do you have in the cast? How many students? How many community members who are neither? Have you worked with any of the cast before?

AK: There are three alumni Theatre grads – Scott Campbell (’99), who both studied and worked here, plays Matthew; Krista Rutschmann (Pera, ‘04), plays Mrs. Lynde; and Christy Gage (Guthrie, ‘06) plays Lucilla and Mrs. Spencer.

Scott Campbell’s daughter Imogene is our first-ever Junior Stage Manager.

Ashlyn McCarthy, who plays one of the children, Ella MacPherson, is a daughter of alums—former staff member Tim McCarthy (’97, ’06) and his wife Cynthia (Vanderveen, 98, ‘18).

Olivia Vanderveen, child of alumni couple Phil Vanderveen (‘96) and Karen Vanderveen (Biersteker, ‘97), will be playing Gertie-Pye.

 

 

Karen May used to teach in the nursing program. She plays Mrs. Barry.

Andrew Dyck (Moody Spurgeon MacPherson) is son of Calvin Dyck who used to teach in the Music program.

Marilla is played by Kim Hardy. She’s never gone here but her daughter Sophie was in Jane Eyre a couple years ago. Now they are in this show together! (Apparently Sophie is already planning to be a TWU student so she’s a future alum)

Current students are Hayley James (Anne), Amanda Haggett (Diana), Emmett Hanly (Gilbert), Natalie Hoogstra (Josie Pye), Amaris Henry, Corinna Scholing, Ben Kanda, Lani-Marie Carbonel, Cassiel Cao, Emma Dykstra, Andrew Dyck. (A total of 11)

Community member totals – 13, including 8 adults and 5 children.

I have worked with seven of the cast before, including Scott Campbell, who was in the first play I ever directed here, 23 years ago!

 

JF: That sounds like a great cast! I know you had an open casting call to the community. What was that like? Was it difficult to find the right people?

AK: Casting is always both difficult and easy. Some pieces fall into place right away; other choices are complicated and/or sad. For every person you say “yes” to, you likely have to say “no” to at least a couple others. This was especially challenging since the cast needs to sing, dance, and act.

JF: Do you have any favourite moments from casting?

AK: Watching the adults do the dance call was really fun. They did great!

JF: It must be daunting to transform such a beloved work of fiction to the stage. What was one of the biggest struggles you’ve faced in adapting it for Trinity Western, and how have you overcome it? 

AK: This is a time-tested and well-loved musical that’s been around for more than 50 years and has played to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. So I didn’t do any of the transformation from the novel. The biggest challenge is adapting it to our small space – 24 people is a lot to fit in, particularly if they’re dancing! But that is also one of the things that will make this production really special.

JF: Thanks so much for your time. In closing, do you have any message for the community (specifically alumni) that you’d like to leave us with?

AK: This show is so much fun! And it is such a treat to involve people of various ages with varying experience. Come see your former classmates on stage, and then plan to audition when we do this again!