LOJ presents Anne of Green Gables
Lake Oswego Junior High drama students will transport audiences to the early 1900s to tell the story of the classic novel "Anne of Green Gables," premiering on May 9.
The play, adapted from the 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, follows aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who send to the orphanage in Nova Scotia for a boy to help them on the farm. Due to a mix-up, they are instead left with 11-year-old Anne Shirley. Over the course of six years, this romantic, hot-headed and energetic girl wins their hearts and turns the stodgy, rural Canadian community into a bright world of kindred spirits.
LOJ eighth grader Kate Johnson plays Rachel Lynde, who she describes as the "nosy neighbor." She said she's loved getting into character because of Rachel's unique personality. "It's a really interesting story that gets in-depth about the characters," Johnson said. "It's captivating."
Johnson also said she has enjoyed getting to know the other cast and crew members. "I love hanging out with everyone. It's such a great community," she said. "When I started drama in six grade, I barely knew anyone. By the end of a production, everyone is best friends. It sounds cliche but it's true."
Bella Johnson, an eighth grader at LOJ, plays Anne during her younger years. "My favorite part of being in drama is the cast," she said. "It's so much fun to be with everyone working together to create the show."
Johnson has also enjoyed getting into her character. "Anne is such a fun character to portray. She has so much energy," she said. "I've always loved performing in front of an audience. It's so cool to be able to tell stories through acting."
Eighth grader Maddie Herion plays Anne during the second half of the play, when she is older. "I've liked exploring the mature side of Anne," Herion said. "She's learned a lot and become more sensible, but she's still very playful."
Herron said that despite the book being written in 1908, its lessons are still valuable. "It's a really heartwarming story about growing up. Even though it took place a long time ago, it's still relevant to today's kids," she said. "The story will appeal to both kids and parents, and will especially connect to people that have read the book."
Sixth grader Karin Bradshaw said she is a big fan of "Anne of Green Gables" — she has read the book, and watched subsequent movie and the television series. She is the understudy for young Anne, and said that she finds the character very relatable. "She's really smart but quirky, and she rambles," Bradshaw said. "She's the perfect character for me to start with because I relate to her."
This is Bradshaw's first production, and she hopes to continue with the drama department. "It's been really fun to hang out with all of the people at rehearsal. I've been working really hard to memorize my lines and come to all of the rehearsals, so hopefully (the director) sees how dedicated I am," she said. "I would love to get a larger role next year."
Eighth grader Jackson Tabaka plays Gilbert Blythe, Anne's smug but good-hearted friend and eventual love interest. "Playing Gilbert is a new level of acting for me. I'm more into comedic acting, so this has been new for me," Tabaka said. "It's interesting to progress with a character as they age throughout the show."
Oliver Pope, an eighth grader at LOJ, has been involved in both the cast and crew throughout his time in the drama department. "I like getting another perspective and understanding both sides of what's going on and how it all comes together," Pope said. "In this show I'm doing lights, which is very engaging. It's an important job, and there's a lot of pressure — but that's a good thing. It pushes me to do my best."
Pope started drama in sixth grade because he wanted to try something new, and has never looked back. "I started making new friends and really enjoyed it," he said. "It's just a really fun experience. I think everyone should try something like it."
"Anne of Green Gables" opens Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. It also runs May 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for everyone and it is general seating. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each performance. It is recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time, and tickets will also be sold at the door. Tickets can be purchases at www.eticketexpress.com/event/loj_drama/anne_green_gables/.