Jeepers! Anne of Green Gables: The Musical is now officially a world-record holder – with the original Prince Edward Island production of the 1965 musical having been deemed the “longest-running annual musical theatre production” by Guinness World Records this month.
“This major accolade reminds Canadians everywhere of the timeless charm and whimsy of one of the greatest musicals ever produced in this country,” Confederation Centre CEO Jessie Inman said in an e-mail.
Before breaking out the Irish beer and tinting it red to celebrate, however, consider this: Guinness World Records created the category of “longest-running annual musical theatre production” for this particular adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous children’s book. There aren’t many places in the world that produce the same musical, over and over, every year.
So exactly how long-running is the Charlottetown Festival production that plays at Confederation Centre in the greater scheme of things?
Well, this season, Anne of Green Gables – which features music by Norman Campbell and words by Campbell, Don Harron, Elaine Campbell and Mavor Moore – by will be performed for a 50th consecutive summer in Charlottetown.
During that time, the production directed by Alan Lund (and recently reinvigorated by Marcia Kash) has had 2,837 performances at the Centre.
Compare and contrast, if you will, to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap – the longest running production in history, which surpassed 25,000 performances on London’s West End in 2012.
On Broadway, meanwhile, The Phantom of the Opera holds the title for longest-running musical with 10,893 performances as of March 9, 2014.
Nevertheless, even by New York standards, 2,837 performances is an impressive tally – if Anne of Green Gables had run that long in Manhattan, it would hold the title of the 20th longest-running show in Broadway history, sitting behind Hello, Dolly! but ahead of My Fair Lady.
As for the official stamp from Guinness World Records, Inman hopes it will be a useful marketing tool for the Confederation Centre and the Charlottetown Festival going forward. “Guinness World Records are recognized around the world, so we anticipate that this honour will raise our profile internationally and aid this inspirational story in reaching new markets,” she says. Finally, perhaps, PEI will be recognized around the world as the home of a spunky, red-headed girl named Anne.
Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck