Home-schoolers honing musical, comedic skills

'Anne of Green Gables' premieres May 2
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Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Anne Shirley, played by Bethany Bergmann, left, is deep in thought as she talks with Marilla Cuthbert, played by Maddi Stuewer, in a dress rehearsal of the Wolf River Home School production of “Anne of Green Gables” Thursday at Clintonville High School.

Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Bethany Bergmann, 17, plays the role of orphan Anne Shirley, and Brandon Martin, 17, of Wittenberg, plays Matthew Cuthbert in the Wolf River Home School production of “Anne of Green Gables.”

About 60 children will showcase their talents in the Wolf River Home School - Performing Arts’ production of “Anne of Green Gables.”

The organization, which includes students from Shawano, Bonduel, Clintonville, Wittenberg, New London and Marion, will present three performances from May 2-4 at Clintonville High School.

“It’s a home school support group that involves parents, and it’s a way for children to get together,” said Lisa Bergman, publicity coordinator for Wolf River Home School - Performing Arts.

WRHS began the annual stage productions — all musicals — 10 years ago at Shawano’s Mielke Theatre before relocating to Clintonville High School three years ago due to space.

“We outgrew the theater and had to move to a larger location,” Bergmann said.

“Anne of Green Gables” is an adaptation, by Don Harron, of a 1908 novel written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, with music from Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell and Mavor Moore.

“I have always wanted to do ‘Anne of Green Gables,’ ” said musical director Cheryl Jones-Ritter, of Tigerton, who has directed seven of the WRHS productions. “I have wanted to do it for many, many years.”

The plot centers around an imaginative orphan girl, Anne Shirley, mistakenly sent to a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, in Prince Edward Island. The Cuthberts had expected to adopt a boy to help them on their farm.

“The whole play revolves around her life and how she finds a family,” said Bethany Bergmann, 17, of Shawano, who plays Anne. “I always liked ‘Anne of Green Gables.’”

For Bergmann, appearing in her third musical, adapting her personality to the role was a challenge.

“It was really difficult because I am an introvert,” she said. “I am not very obnoxious or loud, so it was (difficult) for somebody like me.”

The musical promises to deliver laughter, according to Maddi Stuewer, 17, of Shawano. She plays the role of Marilla Cuthbert. Brandon Martin, 17, of Wittenberg, plays her brother.

“Not laughing during the program, because it is very funny, and keeping a straight face was a real challenge,” Stuewer said.

Angela Cary, 18, of Bonduel, had no problem identifying with the story, set at the turn of the century, and her role as Diana Barry.

“It was not hard at all,” she said. “I loved reading about this time period, and I loved the old-fashioned ideal about it. I have done research about it before so it wasn’t really hard relating to it.”

Jones-Ritter said the students, ranging in age from 5-18, have worked hard on the play and even were responsible for creating their own costumes.

The production, she said, will appeal to all ages.

“We want people to bring their kids,” Jones-Ritter said. “It’s a great family friendly show.”

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Wolf River Home School - Performing Arts’ production of “Anne of Green Gables”

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 2-3, 2 p.m. May 4

WHERE: Clintonville High School, 64 W. Green Tree Road, Clintonville

FYI: Admission is free.

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