At the kitchen table at Green Gables were: (left to right) Brenden Kimpe, Natalie Bot and Cora Engels. They become a family after Anne (Bot) came as an orphan to their home. Acting up a bit in school were Jacob Haen (left) and Joe Verschelde. The school scene gives Anne a good look at the kids in the school after she comes to live with her new family.

‘Anne of Green Gables’ on stage this weekend

For the first time in many years, the Minneota spring play will include a matinee performance. “Anne of Green Gables”, which was chosen by first-year director Aubree Cheadle, will be shown Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

“I was in five plays and six musicals while I was in high school at Minneota,” said Cheadle, a 2010 graduate as Aubree Van Keulen. “I don't ever remember a matinee performance.”

Cheadle decided to have a matinee performance because it had worked well at the Lake Benton Opera House, where she has been involved in the past.

“I think it’s nice for friends and family members that might live out of town,” she said.

“After the play is over, they don’t have to drive back home at 10 o’clock at night.”

“And there is so much work involved in getting a play ready and then it’s over in two days. And it’s really no problem to add another day. So that’s why I decided to add another day.”

The cast will perform the two-act play for the elementary students on Thursday morning and the high school students on Thursday afternoon.

After a one-year hiatus because there was no one available to direct a season ago, the spring play returns. “I’ve been in touch with the school and told them I would be interested in directing the play,” Cheadle said. “It’s fun being back at school in a different role.”

“I’m really excited about this play. I picked it because it’s always been one of my favorite books. It’s a well-known story and a classic novel.”

“Anne of Green Gable” is set in the late 19th century and recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Natalie Bot is taking on the lead role of Anne Shirley.

“I am very impressed with Natalie’s acting skills,” said Cheadle. “She brings Anne to life. I’m very pleased with the entire cast.”

There are 17 cast members and eight tech crew members participating in the spring play. “The play spans four years so we needed to have a lot of different costumes for each cast member,” Cheadle explained.

“We borrowed some costumes from the Lake Benton Opera House, we found some in the prop room at school, and some of the kids brought things in themselves.”

“But we also got a lot of period clothing from Emma Lipinski’s grandmother from Ivanhoe. She brought in a couple pairs of Victorian-heeled boots, bags full of hats and things like that.”

Bot, who will be on stage for the majority of the play, has to make eight or nine costume changes. “She only has like 30 seconds to make a costume change,” Cheadle explained.

“So we have people off-stage ready to help her change quick into her next costume.” While rehearsing a particular humorous scene recently, the cast performed so well that Cheadle couldn’t stop laughing.

“I laughed so hard that I cried,” she admitted. “And the last scene is kind of sad and the cast made me cry again.” “I told them that the goal is to make the audience laugh and cry. If they can make the audience feel all these emotions, then the cast has done a good job.”

Because there are several costume changes with each cast member in this play, it took a little ingenuity to come up with enough.

Here is a list of the cast members for Anne of Green Gables:

Anne Shirley - Natalie Bot

Marilla Cuthbert - Cora Engels

Matthew Cuthbert - Brenden Kimpe

Rachel Lynde - Emma Lipinski

Station Master - Amos Tu

Mr. Spencer - Jackson Jeremiason

Mrs. Blewitt - Cora Bolt

Diana Barry - Cecilia Rabaey

Mrs. Barry - Hannah Brewers

Mr. Phillips - Jackson Jeremiason

Miss Stacy - Rachel Engels

Ruby Gillis - Autumn Dovre

Josie Pye - Liz Voit

Moody Macpherson - Benjamin Engels

Charlie Sloane - Joseph Verschelde

Gilbert Blythe - Jacob Haen

Jane Andrews - Alyssa Engels

Director Aubree Cheadle

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