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P.E.I. tourism industry not worried about new plan for Anne of Green Gables musical

Kelsey Verzotti as Anne with Laurie Murdoch in the 2022 Charlottetown Festival production of Anne of Green Gables — The Musical.  (Louise Vessey/Charlottetown Festival - image credit)
Kelsey Verzotti as Anne with Laurie Murdoch in the 2022 Charlottetown Festival production of Anne of Green Gables — The Musical. (Louise Vessey/Charlottetown Festival - image credit)

People at the forefront of Prince Edward Island's tourism sector say they're not too worried about the cancellation of annual productions of Anne of Green Gables — The Musical, and are excited about new opportunities.

The world-record holder for the longest-running musical running seasonally, Anne was the centrepiece of the Charlottetown Festival for more than 50 years. From now on, it will only be produced every other year, and will next hit the stage in 2024.

"This does open up some opportunities for some new programming and new productions," said Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island

Traditionally, Clemence said Anne of Green Gables — The Musical has been a big draw for tourists over the past decades, but the tourism offerings on the Island have since diversified for changing demographics.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"It's nice to know we have a plethora of offerings now that I think appeal to that general public," she said, adding that celebrating Anne of Green Gables and Lucy Maud Montgomery will always remain a flagship for the Island.

Potential for more awareness

Despite the show now moving to productions every other year, Clemence said she's ecstatic the show will be offered in 2024 —marking 150 years since Montgomery's birth in 1874.

"It is a staple of our tourism product and our culture here, so it would be heartbreaking I think if it didn't return," she said.

Moving forward, the rights for Anne will be available for other productions, schools and non-professional community groups under the terms of a renegotiated rights agreement.

Clemence said she's hopeful that opening the door for other groups to produce the musical will promote the story across the country.

"I think it helps to maybe generate some more awareness, more excitement and get people talking and thinking about Prince Edward Island," she said.

Room for new opportunities

John Cudmore is the general manager of the Holman Grand Hotel, across the street from the Confederation Centre, which produces Anne.

Cudmore said although the musical has been a huge draw for tourism over the years, other shows were also successful in drawing people to the Island, like Tell Tale Harbour last summer.

"It's amazing how that picked up, and we had people coming all last year calling from all over the region to enjoy that," he said.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

He said having the Anne musical on a rotating schedule every other year is a brilliant idea, by keeping it close and fresh in people's minds. At the same time, it gives more opportunities to put on new productions.

"Anything that has that long of a run, it's amazing to have that happen. But let's leave some room for something new and set up a new legacy," he said.

"As long as we can keep some good Canadian shows on, you know, it'll be fine. "