After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Anne of Green Gables — The Musical is set to return to Confederation Center this summer with a new actor in the title role.
Kelsey Verzotti, who was born in Calgary and lives in Toronto, has been cast as Anne Shirley.
She said she became emotional when her agent told her she had landed the role.
“It’s a role I was told once in school that I would never do because I’m Asian,” she said in an interview with Mainstreet PEI host Angela Walker.
“And so getting the role is really, really special. I can’t really put it into words. It’s just monumental to me personally.”
Played Diana Barry
Verzotti previously played Anne’s best friend and soulmate, Diana Barry, in a 2019 production at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Ontario.
Emma Rudy, who played Anne when the musical last performed at the Charlottetown Festival in 2019, will return to play Diana. Verzotti and Rudy went to acting school together.
“I already have that kindred spirit,” she said.
Prior to the pandemic shutdown, production had taken place every year since the festival launched in 1965 and is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest running annual musical.
“So many people can relate”
Verzotti said part of the appeal of Anne is that the story is universal and it doesn’t matter who plays the role. She noted that Anne of Green Gables is very popular in Japan, for example.
“So many people can relate to feeling different or not fitting in,” she said.
“It would be great for kids to see, maybe Asian kids as well, to see an Asian artist play that part. It’ll kind of open all those doors for them because I know when I was growing up, I didn’t always seen Asian lead roles in musicals when I went to see shows with my parents.”
Anne of Green Gables – The Musical begins previews on June 18, with opening night scheduled for June 25. Production will continue until September 3.