“Anne of Green Gables,” the story of an orphan girl adopted by an aging brother and sister on idyllic Prince Edward Island, has been charming readers since it was first published in 1908. The book has sold more than 50 million copies, and has been adapted several times for film, television and the stage. This musical version of the story now at Wheelock Family Theatre is the one that has been performed in Charlottetown in the Canadian island province every summer since 1965, and while the story may be timeless, this musical feels dated.
Despite some terrific ensemble work and a feisty performance by Jennifer Beth Glick in the title role, Norman Campbell’s score is melodically limited, so few of the songs stand out. The story line follows Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, but the approach is superficial, as if we’re getting a selection of unrelated highlights: Anne’s temper gets her in trouble; Anne accidentally gets her friend drunk on homemade wine; Anne worries that she’s ugly and dyes her hair. The incidents all appear in the novel, but they aren’t presented here with any dramatic tension or sense that we are on a journey with these characters.