'Anne of Green Gables'
WORTHINGTON -- The Fulda Community Players are a dedicated group.
Wilma Lindquist and Margaret Popp of Fulda have dedicated their time to directing the group's annual productions for 24 years running.
Kirsten Pagel, who has the title role in this year's "Anne of Green Gables," is so dedicated that she's willing to dye her blonde hair red to fit the part. A 17-year-old senior at Fulda High School, Pagel is acting in her eighth Fulda Community Players' production.
And many other cast members and crew return year after year to ensure a successful production.
"We have a lot of families who have been with us, the whole family has grown up with us and gone," said Lindquist about the devoted group of amateur thespians. "Most of the people in town have been approached about doing something for it. We counted it up one time, going house to house in town, and just about every house had one person who had been involved in that family at some point."
The Fulda Community Players were founded about a quarter of a century ago in the wake of what amounted to a community crisis.
"When our bank failed 25 years ago, the next year they had meetings to figure out how to get the town going and so on. One of the suggestions was to have a community play, and they were looking for somebody who would take the bull by the horns," related Lindquist about how she and Popp took on the directing duties. "Other communities had done it, so why couldn't we?"
Over the last quarter century, the Fulda Players have mounted a variety of productions, although most of them have been musicals or comedies. This year's "Anne" takes more of a dramatic turn, although there are a number of comedic scenes, noted Lindquist. And although it isn't a musical, there is a lot of music incorporated into the production.
The play is based on the book, "Anne of Green Gables," written by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery and published in 1908. It has been made into two feature films, seven made-for-TV movies and is the basis of several television series.
"I had a girl several years ago who was in several plays, and we were talking about what kind of plays we could do," Lindquist recounted. "She said that when she was a young girl, her favorite book was "Anne of Green Gables," and she asked, 'Would that be made into a play?' So I got my book out, and there it was. I ordered (the script) about 10 years ago, and we're just now getting around to it."
The play tells the story of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister who live at Green Gables, a farm on Prince Edward Island in Canada. The Cuthberts decide to adopt a boy from an orphanage to be a helper on their farm. Instead of a boy, a precocious red-haired girl of about 11 years of age -- Anne ends up on their doorstep. The ensuing scenes relate how Anne adapts to her surroundings and her many misadventures.
"She keeps making mistakes, and they're all things in her life that are momentous," Lindquist explained. "There are so many things that go awry, but the one thing is that if she makes a mistake, she doesn't repeat it."
"Anne" features a cast of 32 people from the Fulda area, ranging in age from 6 to about 60, as well as additional crew members -- involving at least 50 people altogether, Lindquist estimated.
"The thing we've found that's really been neat when we've had young people involved is that they learn that adults are human," she said, "because they forget lines, too, and they learn how to interact with adults. I think that's a marvelous attribute of the theater."
But such a large cast does create problems for scheduling rehearsals.
"What's probably most frustrating is getting everybody there at the same time," Lindquist said. "You know how hard it is to get five people together for a party or to go somewhere? Try to get 32 people together. And the people who are most involved with this are always the people who are the busiest."
Since "Anne" is a period piece, costuming has also been challenging, but Lindquist is grateful for good friends who come to her aid to resolve such issues.
"To get pinafores made for the girls has been the biggest headache," she admitted. "A friend who is a wonderful seamstress got back from Arizona, and I put her to work. She whipped them up and brought them (Wednesday) night."
But all the challenges are worth it when the Fulda Community Players manage to pull together another successful production. Lindquist hopes people in the audience come away from the play feeling both entertained and inspired.
"My main idea in having a play is I usually want to have a moral in them," she explained. "This one definitely has a message, more so than most of them have. I like to have something that you will remember, and this particular play will make it stick in your mind."
"Anne of Green Gables" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Fulda Elementary School. Tickets are available from cast members, at Maynards Food Center and Ramerth Hardware, both in Fulda, and at the door.