Arts & Culture

Classic Canadian tale comes to life at Gateway

By Hannah Scott

Published 10:38 PST, Tue December 6, 2022

Last Updated: 4:05 PST, Thu December 22, 2022

Richmondites of all ages can be enchanted this holiday season by a timeless Canadian story about an energetic young red-headed girl.

Gateway Theatre presents its holiday show, Anne of Green Gables - The Musical, with Coquitlam-raised actor Kyra Leroux in the lead role. Leroux’s TV and film experience includes roles on Riverdale, Schmigadoon!, Firefly Lane, and The J Team. 

“As a Canadian redhead I feel like I’ve been waiting to play (Anne) since the day I was born,” she says. “I started out in competitive dance and musical theatre when I was three or four years old, so I’ve been doing it pretty much my whole life. I think that storytelling is one of the deepest ways that we can connect as humans, and I truly believe that you can change the world with storytelling—I think it’s one of the most powerful art forms.”

Leroux graduated from high school during the pandemic and remained in acting classes, then began auditioning for TV and film productions once the industry opened back up.

“My career has really taken off actually during the pandemic in terms of TV and film, but it feels really good to go back to my musical theatre roots,” she says. “Musical theatre feels like coming home; it’s always been my first love.”

Although the story is well-known to Canadian audiences, Leroux points out the universal tale provides much-needed cheer. Just as Anne brings joy to the lives of her caregivers Matthew and Marilla, and the other residents of Avonlea, Leroux says her character can bring joy to audience members as well.

There’s also a lot of humour in the show, and Leroux says she often has a hard time not laughing during rehearsal.

“This story is really about a community coming together to accept change, and I think we can all relate to that right now,” she adds. “We’ve had to do so much reassessing of our lives because of the pandemic, and that’s represented in this show—the way the people of Avonlea have to come together and accept this change that’s come into our town, the change being Anne.”

Leroux adds that it’s an honour to take on such an iconic role. Preparing to play Anne, she takes herself back to the way a child sees the world. 

“(Anne’s) joy is so infectious; she has such a vivid imagination and sees the world with such a sense of beauty, and I think that’s really seeping its way into my life and you can feel that in the rehearsal hall—it’s lighting everybody up,” says Leroux. “Anne is very similar to how I was when I was younger, and honestly how I still am now. It’s really reminding me of the kind of imagination you have as a child, and the way you see the world. I think what’s really cool about this show is that we see the world through Anne’s perspective and Anne shows us her world and reminds us what it’s like to see the world through a child’s eyes.”

She hopes the audience takes away that childlike sense of wonder and beauty, and perhaps the shift can impact the way people see nature and the world.

“I think there’s this raw and unfiltered way that children see the world that kind of gets jaded or a little bit muggy as we grow older. This story does such a great job of bringing it all back to that, which we can all relate to,” says Leroux. 

“I’m excited for people to see it, and I’m excited to be able to share this story with people because I think it’s a story that we need right now.”

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical is adapted from L.M. Montgomery’s novel and directed by Gateway director of artistic programs Barbara Tomasic. It’s on at Gateway Theatre from Dec. 15 to 31, with tickets starting at $35. For more information, visit gatewaytheatre.com/anne.

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