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Art and the Power of Imagination...

Updated: Apr 16

I've always loved to sing and for a while I did, mostly in choirs and a cappella groups. In secondary school my big dream was to become an opera singer but, as it happens with some dreams, it did not come to be, for many reasons that could be the subject of another blog entry.  Suffice to say I took a different path and my singing moved, more often than not, in the proverbial shower, with a smattering of Christmas carols here and there. 


I thought that was that but 2023 changed it all!


Stratford Kiwanis Festival for the Performing Arts put out a cast call for Anne of Green Gables,  the musical. Years back, as a newly arrived Canadian, together with writings by Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro I have discovered the Avonlea universe and needless to say I fell in love with “Anne with an e” and felt I was too a kindred spirit.


So, this past December I joined the cast of Anne of Green Gables, and the rest, as they say, is history! I could indeed stop here with a brief: went to rehearsals, and had a lovely show beginning of April but oh, how so unlike Anne that will be! And how so unlike Elena! for the ones that know me!



Rehearsals started at the end of January when we got to meet the Creative Team and members of the cast. It was not going to be a smooth journey for me as I am an alto but do not read notes so I knew harmonizing would not be easy to master. I came back home full of excitement though and could not wait for the next rehearsal, and the next, and the next…


I did not know anyone in the cast when we started but cannot move on with my story without first mentioning everyone’s care for, and kindness to everyone else’s. Watching for one another, comparing notes, supporting each other in this wondrous journey. The Creative Team, our guides in this ambitious endeavor, provided all along, at every step of the way their talent, passion, wisdom and support, again, with kindness, generosity and humor. 



From the very first day, the young people in our midsts were nothing short of inspiring. With scripts in hand and songs to learn, they dove headfirst into the complex world of Avonlea. Their ability to memorize dialogues and lyrics was impressive, but it was their sheer passion and youthful energy that I feel truly transformed our production.



Each rehearsal brought new challenges, yet it felt the youngsters weren't just acting; they were living their roles, embodying each character with a freshness that only youthful spirits could bring to the stage. Witnessing their infectious enthusiasm and dedication made each rehearsal an absolute joy.


I recall at some point thinking we will never get “there”, we need more time, more rehearsals, we cannot do the show early April.  Everybody was working hard but there was still so much to learn. For a while kids and adults worked separately and we will come together for a song or two. I was looking forward to each Sunday rehearsal but could not see us being ready for a public performance. 




As the days inched closer to opening night though, the air around the Stratford Kiwanis Anne of Green Gables musical started to change. One day, and I cannot give the exact date, one day it just happened. Something shifted, the magic truly took hold. The notes we sang became the voice of Avonlea, echoing its joys, sorrows, and enduring spirit. 



A group of  35+ youngsters and adults, all of different ages and different levels of musical abilities -  transformed into the inhabitants of Avonlea!  We had become more than a cast; we were a community, bound by the love of a story that transcended time and place.


In the last few weeks before the curtain rose, our rehearsals intensified. Music, dialogue, stage movement, costumes, the whole atmosphere seemed imbued with the essence of L.M. Montgomery's beloved world. It was as if Avonlea itself had descended upon us, with its quaint charm and spirited community, urging us on.


Opening night arrived, the space at Stratford’s Avondale Church filled with an eager, warm audience. The lights dimmed, and the first notes of the overture infused the air revealing the world we had so lovingly crafted these past few months. It was more than a performance. It was a celebration of art, of community, and of the enduring power of imagination.


The show was a success, we were oh, so happy, but the true triumph was not in the applause we received. It was in the journey, in the transformation of a diverse group of individuals into a harmonious ensemble that had breathed life into a beloved tale. 


The unity among the creative team and cast members, especially evident between the adults and children, created a supportive atmosphere that was palpable. The older members mentored the younger ones, who in turn brought an energy that revitalized us all. This symbiotic relationship culminated in a performance where every line, song, and movement, while not perfect, was charged with authenticity and wholeheartedness.


Anne of Green Gables, with her unquenchable spirit and boundless imagination, had led me back to one of my first loves, reminding me that some dreams, no matter how long they lie dormant, have the power to awaken and flourish in the most unexpected of ways.


THANK YOU to the most wonderful Creative Team and Cast one could dream of, thank you for your generosity of spirit, passion, talent, hard work and joy!! Thank you Stratford Kiwanis! Thank you Anne of Green Gables!

blog entry by Elena Dumitru, aka one of the ladies of Avonlea


2 Comments


Congratulation to you and Straford community. Your former choir colleque.

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What a wonderful accomplishment, Elena! Congratulations and may you see even more dreams come true!

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