Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Anne of Green Gables- meet the director Mike Baker



Why did you suggest Anne of Green Gables: The Musical to the LTA Board?
The LTA Board was looking for a family show so I suggested the original Broadway version of this
musical. In addition to one of the most popular mini-series on PBS, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story
was enjoying a popular rebirth through the Netflix series, “Anne with an e.” I knew it would be a
natural for LTA audiences young and old. Plus, the original 1965 version had not been done in the
DC area for a very long time, if at all.
Why did you decide to ultimately direct "Anne of Green Gables?"
First, the Board had to select me. But in a real sense, it just seemed to speak to me on so many
levels. Contemporary themes like child neglect, adoption, romance, friendship, and life in a small
town, were all rolled into this wholesome, imaginative, breezy tale of a young orphan girl who rose
from destitution to happiness in the farm country entirely by virtue of her pluck and personality. I felt
it could not miss.
What were you trying to accomplish with the telling of this play?
I didn’t just want to direct the musical, I wanted to ennoble the richness of Montgomery’s text, with
many non-spoken subtleties from the novel. Richer characterizations, additional episodic
development, and ingenious stagecraft choices imbue this production with a magic that is difficult to
muster in community theatre. For the Anne of Green Gables devotee, it is a treasure trove of
childhood memories.
What were the challenges as a director?  
A horse, carriage, and endless theatrical drops are a tall order for any community theatre, but with a
little imagination and mixed-media, this musically lush and youthfully energetic musical has reached
fruition at LTA. It also features dance within dance, mixed vocal and dialogue sections, 10 different
settings, a dozen legit voice parts, and a half-century of musical traditions. It was quite an
undertaking.
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
It is clearly more complex than some I have done. It is essentially a 423 page novel in a little over
two hours. And yet, it is not pithy or overbearing. It has light airy moments with ‘Open a Window’
and true human pathos with ‘The Words.’ The width and the breath of this musical is a life worth
lived on stage.
What should the audience take away from this play?
The kindness of humanity. The precious gift of family. The joy of youth and the wisdom that comes
with age. Melodies that seem to talk to the human spirit and both renew and uplift.


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