Amy Wallis brings Charm of Anne of Green Gables to Toronto

Amy Wallis brings charm of Anne of Green Gables to Toronto

VINCENT TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR
“Mom and dad didn’t want me to go into theatre at all,” laughs Amy Wallis. But the young actor, who has already played several lead roles, is hooked. (April 28, 2009)
Director knew she had found the right one after Wallis auditioned for musical

May 02, 2009


THEATRE CRITIC
When you’ve spent the last four years of your relatively short life alternating between playing one of Disney’s most beloved heroines and one of Canada’s most revered literary figures, you might think it could turn a young lady’s head.

But, judging from a recent conversation, Amy Wallis is doing just fine in the modesty department with none of the arrogance that both her onstage prototypes – Anne Shirley and Belle – have sometimes displayed.

Wallis, 26, is currently in Toronto rehearsing with the Charlottetown Festival Company to begin her fourth season as the title character in that best known of all Canadian musicals, Anne of Green Gables. What makes this time around even more special for her is that the show is going to begin on May 7 with a run at the Elgin Theatre, courtesy of Dancap Productions.

“I’m incredibly excited to be appearing in the city that I hope to build a career in,” says Wallis. “I really want to do well here.”

The chances are that she will. The reviews from her first three summers as Anne have all been glowing – the same kind of response in her native Vancouver, where she’s starred for the past four Christmases in the Arts Club Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast.

This might be the time for a bit of total disclosure. I directed Wallis’s mother, Valerie Easton (who is now a noted choreographer) and my wife, Pamela, appeared on stage with her father, Ray Wallis (who has left the business for a career in financial planning), when we were all young and foolish in Vancouver, back in the 1970s. But the Ouzounians had moved East by the time Amy was born on Sept. 16, 1982.

“Mom and dad didn’t want me to go into theatre at all,” she laughs. “They tried to get me interested in sports, but all I wanted to do was perform. I would force my parents to watch me put on these long, involved plays I had created when I was only four. I was always running around doing numbers from Cats and driving them crazy.”

By this point, Wallis’s father had quit show business “cold turkey,” in his daughter’s words, and was enjoying working in the financial sector. “Dad would try to get me interested in the things he was doing,” Wallis confesses, “and I would just stare at him with drool coming down from my mouth. I was such a Broadway baby!”

But the Wallis family still held the line, making sure Amy would have something approaching a normal existence. “I got very involved in high school drama,” shares Wallis, “and so I asked my mother if I could have an agent. She said `no.’ It was okay if went to dance classes and acted in community theatre, but she wanted me to have a real life.”

Eventually she spent a few years at York University, but dropped out, feeling that “I was ready and I knew what I wanted.”

After a year on a cruise ship (“just so I could see the world”), she wound up in her old hometown and got her first professional job as Anybodys in the Arts Club Theatre production of West Side Story.

Since then, she’s kept busy across the country in various shows, but there’s no doubt in her mind that the cherry on the sundae has been playing Anne Shirley.

“I flew out to Toronto to audition for it,” she remembers, “and I had no idea how I did at first. I wanted the part so badly! I had read the books as a little girl and the first song I ever sang at a concert was `Gee, I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me.’ I had the VHS copy of the Megan Follows TV version and I’d watched it so much over the years that the tape had literally worn out. That’s how much I loved Anne of Green Gables.”

So her heart started beating just a bit faster when director Anne Allen stopped her after her audition and asked if she was planning to stay in Toronto a few more days.

“I told her `no,'” says Wallis, “that I was flying right back home. She just looked at me and said `Oh, I’d stay around.'”

Wallis was called back several times, and when she got to her final audition she remembers thinking she had blown it because she saw Allen turn to whisper to someone during her song.

“`Oh great, I thought, `She’s talking while I’m singing!'”

What she only found out later was that the person Allen was whispering to was author Don Harron, and what she was saying was “I think we’ve finally found our Anne.”

Things are busy for Wallis right now, but what about life after Anne?

“I see myself playing as many different roles as possible. I really want to do My Fair Lady. And I’ve always hoped to be in a production of Les Miserables. I’d be anyone … even the third whore from the left!”

I wonder what Marilla would have to say about that!

GETTING PERSONAL

Q: What was the first musical you ever saw?

Marilyn Dalzell, Peterborough

A: It was a Vancouver production of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby and Long John Baldry. Cathy Rigby threw fairy dust on me so I went home and tried to fly. I couldn’t. I didn’t get hurt, but I was very sad.

Q: How old were you when you first came across Anne of Green Gables?

Jean-Anne Moors, Whitby

A: I think I was 9 when I first started reading one of the books. Then I learned the songs from the musical and next came the TV show on tape.

Q: Why do you think Anne of Green Gables is still so popular in Charlottetown after all these years?

Eleanor Vineberg, Halifax, N.S.

A: First of all, it’s a wonderful show, but I also think people love coming to see Anne’s story near her home.


ANNES WITH AN ‘E’

Fourteen actresses have played Anne Shirley in the Charlottetown Festival production of Anne of Green Gables since it premiered in 1965. Here’s a few:

Susan Cuthbert (1979-1980): She went on to become the first alternate for Rebecca Caine’s Christine Daae in the original Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera, playing the role at least twice a week.

Glynis Ranney (1991-1992): Known for her soulful, wide-eyed stare and crystal-clear voice, Ranney has been seen for many years at the Shaw Festival.

Tracy Michailidis (1994-1996): One of the most serious and emotional of all Annes, Michailidis has gone on to star at Shaw and Stratford as well as theatres around North America.

Chilina Kennedy (2000-2001): The feisty, sexy Kennedy went far beyond Anne Shirley, starring as Sophie in the national tour of Mamma Mia! and is currently at Stratford, in West Side Story.

Exclusive Coverage of Anne of Green Gables Open Call

by Kelly Cameron by way of Broadwayworld.com

On Tuesday April 21st, 2009 Dancap Productions held open auditions for children aged 8-12 to be in the Toronto engagement of Canada’s longest running musical Anne of Green Gables.  More than sixty children showed up at the open call, all eager for a chance to participate in this amazing piece of Canadian theatre.  BWW was on hand to witness the entire audition process, and had the opportunity to interview some of the key people behind the production.

In attendance for the process were members from Dancap Productions, as well as Artistic Director Anne Allan and Musical Director Donald Fraser.  Dance Captains and cast members Robin Calvert and Zak Kearns were also in attendance to assist in the casting process.

The studio at the Ossington Theatre was beautifully out-fitted with props from the production, and the kids started to pile in very quickly and filled the room.  Tons of bright and smiling faces prepared to learn a song and dance from the musical and show off what they had to offer.

It was a very thorough audition process.  The children learned a verse from the song “Ice Cream” and then were taught the dance that goes along with it.  Dance Captains Robin Calvert and Zak Kearns were fantastic in their direction of the young children, helping them learn the steps quickly so that they could be evaluated.  The process moved very smoothly, with the children being divided into groups according to sex and height and then performing for Anne Allan with accompaniment by Donald Fraser.

Once all the children had an opportunity to sing and dance, they had a sit-down with Ms. Allan where she demonstrated her unique ability to handle children.  Ms. Allan had a wonderful group conversation with them where she explained various aspects of the theatre business as well as the auditioning process, and encouraged the children to continue on their path regardless of whether or not they got a role in their production.  Ms. Allan was incredibly kind and approachable throughout the process, and it seemed as though all the children felt included regardless of whether or not they were called back.  She explained that they would all have the opportunity to go back to their parents, and then certain children would be called back in to perform the final call-backs.

During this time, I was able to speak with Ms. Allan for an exclusive interview for BWW readers:

Do you feel that this is a good turn-out?

Yes definitely.  The turn-out was fantastic.

How long have you been with the Charlottetown Festival Production of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical?

I’ve been with Anne for ten years.

Are you only casting the children at this time?

We are only casting the children in Toronto, although we did cast for some of the other roles prior to arriving here. We have a lot of returning cast members, but we did also need to cast some new people. It’s a great job for young dancers who are coming out of school because we need young kids or people who can look like young kids.  So very often it’s a wonderful jumping off point for performers.  Plus they get to be a part of a Canadian classic and that is a great opportunity as well.  Many of them stay with us for a long time, but then sometimes they go off and do other jobs and we need to open up the casting process again.

Will the children chosen be only performing in Toronto?

Yes, they will just be in the Toronto engagement. A lot of the reason behind that is because of their age and also their height.  Sometimes children can become too tall during a long run!

Once we are done, you will be bringing a select number of children back in for final call-backs.  What is involved from here on out?

Now we have to streamline everything and pick exactly what we need.  And even though we publish the breakdowns for height and age, many children like to come anyways so some can’t be considered because they don’t meet the basic criteria. Sometimes they might be too tall, because they have to look like a young child of Avonlea.  So basically I can tell right away which ones might be too small and need to be a bit older, or which ones are already too tall.  So height-wise I know right away which ones fit the bill, and from there it’s just a question of getting to look them over again in smaller numbers and choose exactly what we are looking for.

Approximately twenty children were brought back in for the final part of the audition process, and at this time, each had the opportunity to sing solo for Anne Allan and the rest of the casting crew.  In addition, they learned a more complicated dance routine and did some additional work with Dance Captain Zak Kearns.  At the end, Anne Allan sat down with the children and had a very informative and moving discussion about the demands that come with being in this type of production as well as general rules of the theatre.  The children were extremely enthusiastic despite being tired from a long evening of auditioning, and each were eager to answer questions and display their knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of being in a professional production.

At the end of the night all the children went home and the casting crew were left with a very hard decision to make.  All the children did a spectacular job and only four were being cast (two boys and two girls).  It was not announced at the open call who had been selected, however BWW has been given an exclusive opportunity to follow-up with the children shortly after the show opens to hear how they felt about the audition process and how they are enjoying being in Anne of Green Gables – The Musical.

Anne of Green Gables – The Musical plays the Elgin Theatre from May 7th – 24th, 2009. Tickets start as low as $25 and can be purchased online or by calling 416-644-3665.  For more information please visit http://www.dancaptickets.com

Coloring Contest for Anne of Green Gables – The Musical Tickets

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Charlottetown Festival’s perennial favourite, Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™ is Canada’s longest-running musical seen by more than 3 million people worldwide. Dancap productions is presenting the family classic from May 7 to 31 at the Elgin Theatre. For a chance to win a family pack of four tickets to the show, enter our colouring contest and mail your entry to City Parent Anne Contest, 447 Speers Rd. Suite 4 Oakville, ON L9T 3S7. Submissions must be received by Monday, April 27.

With her fiery temper, passion for melodrama and romance, and penchant for misadventures, Anne brings laughter, love and more than a little consternation to the village of Avonlea. Based on the novel Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, this story is loved by millions around the world and in 2008 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its original publication. For details about the show or for tickets call 416-644-3665 or visit www.dancaptickets.com/shows.

Click HERE and print out the colouring contest image.

Leisa Way – Anne of Green Gables Musical lead for 6 Years in Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline

Posted By KATHLEEN HAY, STANDARD-FREEHOLDER

Posted 4 days ago

It’s a phrase you usually only get to see in big city theatres: “NEW BLOCK OF TICKETS ON-SALE!”

Such was not the case this time though when the spring show, Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline, resulted in seats being snapped up faster than you could say walkin’ after midnight. Originally scheduled for a run April 22-26 and May 1-3, it sold-out so quickly four more shows have been added for May 8-10.

Starring Leisa Way (who captivated Playhouse audiences in The Love List two years ago) as the legendary country singer, she’s backed-up by the Wayward Wind Band (Bruce Ley, Dave Wilson and Michael Mulrooney) who are some of this country’s finest musicians.

Way, who was raised on country music, initially began her studies at the University of Toronto’s prestigious opera school in the early 1980s. Opera at that time, however, she explains had a rather “chi-chi” reputation and when her teachers were trying to persuade her to focus solely on that genre, her natural impulse lead her elsewhere.

“I had so many different interests,” she explained from her home in Orangeville. “I wanted to sing jazz, do musical theatre. I have a big voice, but I wasn’t so sure about opera.

“I’m a lead in musical theatre, but not in opera. Still, you wonder.”

Following her heart, she successfully auditioned for the lead in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival. For the six next years, she travelled the globe (including six tours to Japan) performing as the red-haired girl, including performing for the British Royal Family on three occasions.

Her other musical theatre credits are no less impressive. Leading roles in productions such as Showboat, 42nd Street, Crazy for You, Cats and Camelot, have seen her travel across North America and to 50 countries worldwide.

In 1997, she was asked to perform in Drayton Entertainment’s production of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. She took this show as far afield as Dubai and France where the universal appeal of the country star found ready fans everywhere.

“Originally, my greatest fear was performing the role of a real person, not an imaginary character in a play,” stated Way. “I thought, ‘If I don’t nail this, people are going to know it.’

“But there’s so little live footage of her as her career was so short.”

In fact, she continues, Cline’s career really only lasted six years, from 1957-63. Her first huge hit Walkin’ After Midnight was in 1957, then there was nothing again until 1960.

“She struggled and struggled,” says Way. “So many of her songs came out posthumously following her death in ’63.”

It was this show that gave Way the momentum to create her own tribute to the singer in Sweet Dreams: The Songs of Patsy Cline. The two-hour production is set on the eve of her final concert in Kansas City before a fatal flight home during nasty rainstorm in 1963. In it, she sings 27 of Cline’s hit songs peppered in between with dialogue to give a glimpse of the singing legend.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I research this?'”Way said. “I started gleaning information from various books, I spoke to people who had recorded her live.

“I wanted to tell Patsy’s story.” What a story it was, she added.

During that era, said Way, there were hardly any women who were headline acts, much less any who would command a Las Vegas gig for $1,000 a night. Her husband beat her, but that wasn’t talked about. Instead, Cline was always the breadwinner in her relationships.

“She was so generous,” she She would help out other singers, like Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee and Dottie West . . . she would give the shirt off her back, and then not be able to pay her own bills.

“She paved the way for other women. I love talking about her.”

Although known for her country stylings, Cline was all-around performer.

“Patsy was the first to have a cross-over hit to pop from country,” said Way. “She played Carnegie Hall, Las Vegas . . . she was not a country singer.

“She was a singer who could sing anything.”

Way’s own performance of numbers like Crazy, Walkin’ After Midnight, Sweet Dreams, Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey, I Fall to Pieces and others have been critically hailed as a “strong clear voice and heartfelt singing to thrill any Patsy Cline fan.”

Her staggering success portraying the legendary singer inspired Way and her band to go into the studio and recapture the magic of that live performance. The CD, Sweet Dreams: The Songs of Patsy Cline, has thrilled her fans and resulted in two European tours, as well as ones to Asia and the South Pacific.

“Everything I say in the show is something Patsy said. Performing this tribute to her is an honour. I’ve been told that within five minutes, people forget and think they are at a Patsy Cline concert. That was my goal. To take them away for two hours. What better gift do you give people?” Way said.

– – –

SWEET DREAMS:A TRIBUTE TO PATSY CLINE

WHAT:Musical theatre sensation Leisa Way takes you on a two-hour journey of the late singer’s life that’s filled with hit songs and insight into what made Patsy Cline such a special person.

WHEN:May 8 to 10, in addition to previous sold-out dates of April 22- 26 and May 1-3.

WHERE:Upper Canada Playhouse, Morrisburg.

COST:$28 (adults); $24 seniors (60 and up)/students. Groups of 10 or more are $23 per person. To book tickets, call 613-543-3713.

SHOW TIMES:May 8 and 9 at 8 p. m., plus 2 p. m. matinees on May 9 and 10.

Anne of Green Gables The Musical 101 Things You Didn’t Know

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical 101 Things You Didn"t Know

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical 101 Things You Didn"t Know $19.95

Along with Norman & Elaine Campbell author Ron Harron created Anne of Green Gables The Musical and has been involved with it for 52 years.  The 101 things format would make it a great coffee table book if the it wasn’t such a darn page turner.  It’s has some touchching tales, of the people who pass the torch contrasted with back, memorable pictures and lots of backstage antics.

The musical is Canada’s longest running and has been seen by over 3 million people.

Quote “My greatest achievement is this musical that has given jobs to ten thousand professional actors.

Best known to Canadians as his alter ego “Charlie Farquharson” with which he stared on 18 years of the Amercian TV show Hew Haw, written 12 novels and guest stared on such programs  as The Red Green Show an Royal Candian Air Farce.

Don has appeared done 6 shows on Broadway, 4 in London’s West End, 4 years of Shakespeare in 3 countries and 56 years of stand-up comedy.

One of the greatest friends of Prince Edward Island, nobody knows the musical like Don Harron or gives the straight goods with modesty and humour.

We are in your debt Mr. Harron.

Anne of Green Gables Musical Coming to Toronto

The Anne of Green Gables Musical is Coming to Toronto

Canada’s longest running musical, seen by over three million worldwide is coming to Toronto.   The original production from The Confederation Centre of The Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is coming to Toronto thanks to DanCap Productions.

The musical will run May 7th, to May 31st, 2009.

Seating Charts are available here

  • Saturday Evening – $155 -$260
  • Sunday and Saturday Matinee $135-$230
  • Thursday and Friday Evening $115-$220
  • Wednesday Evening – $105-$205
  • Wednesday Matinee $100- $190

Directions

By TTC: Subway to Queen Station. Exit to street. The theatre is on the east side of Yonge Street at Queen St.

By Car: QEW or 401 to Yonge St. Proceed north or south on Yonge to Queen.

“Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, is a must see. This spunky, entertaining and delightful production has proven why it is Canada’s longest running musical.”
– Lisa Vlooswyk, The Calgary Herald

Elgin Theatre 189 Yonge Street

ACT 1
Anne of Green Gables – Full Company
Great Workers for the Cause – Rachel Lynde and the Ladies
Where is Matthew Going? – The Townspeople
Gee I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me – Anne
We Clearly Requested a Boy – Marilla, Anne and Matthew
The Facts – Anne, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Blewett and Marilla
Where’d Marilla Come From? – The Townspeople
Humble Pie – Matthew and Anne
The Apology – Anne
Back to School Ballet – The Pupils
Avonlea We Love Thee – Mr. Phillips and the Pupils
Wondrin’ – Gilbert
Did You Hear? – Josie and the Townspeople
Ice Cream – Diana and Company
The Picnic – The Company

ACT 2
Where Did the Summer Go To? – Gilbert and the Pupils
Kindred Spirits – Anne and Diana
Open the Window – Miss Stacy and the Pupils
The Words – Matthew
Open the Window (reprise) – Miss Stacy and the Pupils
Nature Hunt Ballet – The Pupils
I’ll Show Him – Anne and Gilbert
General Store – Lucilla, Matthew and the Townspeople
Pageant Song – The Pupils
If It Hadn’t Been for Me – The Company
There is a Golden Summer – Gilbert and the Pupils
Anne of Green Gables – Matthew
The Words (reprise) – Marilla
Wondrin’ (reprise) – Anne and Gilbert

Confed Center Pictures

Don Harron, Writer and Co-Lyricist
Writer Don Harron hatched the idea of creating a musical of Anne of Green Gables while reading the book to his daughter. In penning the musical-first for television, then for the stage-he “ tried to be as faithful as possible to L. M. Montgomery’s story.”

Norman Campbell, Composer and Co-Lyricist
The lilting melodies of Anne of Green Gables were composed by Norman Campbell. He worked closely with Mr. Harron to create the musical, but distance was an obstacle. Recalls Mr. Campbell: “We were in different cities, so we mostly composed over the phone”.

Elaine Campbell, Co-Lyricist
Songwriter Elaine Campbell was in hospital, about to give birth, when she penned the words to “Gee, I’m Glad”. At the time, she says: “I never imagined that one day I would see the show performed in New York, London, or Osaka.”

Mavor Moore, Artistic Director and Co-Lyricist
It was artistic director Mavor Moore who brought Anne of Green Gables, the Musical to Charlottetown. He commissioned the stage version, negotiated the rights and headed the production team. On top of that, he wrote the lyrics to three songs.

Alan Lund, Stage Director and Choreographer
The dance and staging that bring Anne of Green Gables, the Musical to life were created by Alan Lund. Although Mr. Lund was a seasoned choreographer, he had never directed a play before. Nevertheless, the original 1965 Anne staging is still in use today.

Source – Confederation Centre of the Arts

Lusk Herald Online

Silver Cliff Theater Company to perform

Posted: Thursday, Jan 15th, 2009

Brandie Bartelt, Editor

The first performance of the newly established Silver Cliff Theater Company will be Jan. 24 and 25. They will be performing the famous book that had been written as a play ‘Anne of Green Gables. ‘

Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the bestselling book, published in 1908. It is a fictional book for readers of all ages, but was mostly recognized as a children’s book. There have been numerous adaptations of the book, which has included movies on both the silver screen and television and was also adapted as a play.

An interesting fact about the book is that there has been more copies sold than ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’

For the Silver Cliff Theater Company they have been busy preparing for the big night, having several practices throughout the past few months. The cast is made up of local members of the community with Randy Hills directing. There is hope that there will be more performances to come from a variety of plays in the near future. For now though, there is an eagerness from cast members to perform for the community.

The first performance will be Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at NCHS auditorium, with an encore on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. For advanced tickets contact Heather Goddard at (307) 349-5050 or (307) 334-2500 or tickets can be purchased at the Lusk State Bank.

via Lusk Herald Online.