Newest Anne already a big fan

Newest Anne already a big fan

It's official, the new Anne has been named.

The 22-year-old AJ Bridel will take over the role of Anne Shirley in the Charlottetown Festival's production of Anne of Green Gables — The Musical, starting June 26.

Bridel will be the 18th actress to play the role in its record-setting 53rd consecutive season.

"This is a dream role of mine, I grew up singing the music from the musical Anne of Green Gables and I've always wanted to play this part," an excited Bridel told Mainstreet P.E.I.'s Angela Walker.

​Bridel is considered a rising star in Canadian theatre, having made her professional debut at 18 at the Stratford Theatre in Ontario, and since then playing iconic roles such as Peter Pan, Dorothy and Sleeping Beauty.

She also was a finalist in the CBC-TV reality show Over The Rainbow in 2012, finishing third.

Anne 'a cherry on top of that sundae'

"I've been very fortunate in the past few years to have some really amazing experiences," said Bridel. "But this is going to put a cherry on top of that sundae, let me tell you."

She already knows her favourite part of the role.

"The song Gee I'm Glad is such a beautifully simple but yet complex song to me," she said. "The first time I heard that and started singing it in the studio with my voice teacher when I was a kid, that's when I fell in love with her."

Bridel feels a kinship with the Anne character.

"There's this sense of abandonment with her, the sense of pure, unfiltered love and joy," she said. "I want to experience playing that kind of person, and bringing that part of myself out."

'She's a hard sing'

Bridel will arrive in Charlottetown in May for rehearsals, but said she has lots of work to do before then.

"Right now I'm singing a lot, because she's a hard sing, let me tell ya," she said. "I've been working with my voice coach a lot and reading up on Anne."

She's also arriving a week before rehearsals start, because she needs to get familiar with the Island.

"I've never been to the East Coast, I know, it's terrible, I can't believe I'm saying it out loud," said Bridel.

'I cannot wait to be out there'

"I was born in Calgary and I was raised in Kitchener, and I've just never made it there, and I've had family move there because they love it so much, and I have many friends from that area, and I've always wanted to go and it's just never happened. So that's part of the joy I feel about playing this part, honestly, because I cannot wait to be out there, I've only heard amazing things."

Casting news will soon be revealed for the roles of Matthew, Marilla, Rachel Lynde, Diana, and Gilbert, according to officials with the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Anne of Green Gables — The Musical is playing the Homburg Theatre from June 26 to September 23.

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