Back in a familiar — and favourite — role

Sally
Sally Cole
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Marilla Cuthbert, left, (Martha Irving) appears with Mrs. Lynde (Robin Craig) in a scene from the 2008 production of Anne & Gilbert – The Musical. Craig is reprising her role in this summer’s production of Anne & Gilbert – The Musical at The Guild in Charlottetown starting June 17. Irving is the director. Tickets for the show are available at The Guild Box Office or by calling 1-877-566-3346.

Canadian actress Robin Craig happy to play Rachel Lynde this summer in The Guild’s production of Anne & Gilbert - The Musical

Robin Craig is well versed in the spirit of a certain Avonlea gossip.

“I’ve done Rachel Lynde in all permutations, so she’s a very familiar character for me,” says the Canadian actress who has played the role in the Charlottetown Festival’s production of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, in Paul Ledoux’s musical titled Anne and in the Harbourfront Theatre’s production of Anne & Gilbert – The Musical.

So when she was invited to take on the character, once again, in this summer’s production of Anne & Gilbert – The Musical at The Guild in Charlottetown, she was thrilled.

“It’s like putting on a nice pair of comfy shoes. I know her inside and out,” says Craig, who also took on the humorous portrayal of Rev. Mother Superior Mary Regina, a former circus performer, in Harbourfront Theatre’s production of Nunsense, last summer.

With her keen sense of all things funny, the British Columbia-born actress is sure to sew a liberal lining of comedy into the folds of her Victorian skirts when the show hits the boards of The Guild, starting June 17.

“Mrs. Lynde knows everything about the town and everything about everybody’s business. So, the stereotype of the busybody is a popular type of comic character, and Mrs. Lynde is a perfect example of that,” says Craig, with a twinkle in her eye.

The show’s director agrees.

“Robin has impeccable comic timing which makes her perfect for Mrs. Lynde. She knows her very well and understands the character a lot. As well as comedic ability, she brings humanity, which allows the audience to love her,” says Martha Irving who has experienced firsthand the magic of working with this talented actress.

In 2008, she played Marilla Cuthbert, across from Craig, in the Harbourfront Theatre production of the show.

“She was my Rachel and she was wonderful.”

They became kindred spirits, which has made directing easy.

“It’s very relaxing because I can absolutely trust her. All of her choices are spot on.”

It’s also made for some unexpected moments.

“This year when we were sitting around doing our first read-through for the show. And she had said her first line, my muscle memory kicked in and I wanted to answer her. Then I thought, ‘you’re not Marilla, you’re the director.’ “

Another thing she likes about Craig is the positive interaction she has with the younger cast members.

“Robin is just a great company member, that way. She’s so experienced and happy to share that experience.”

As for Craig, the feeling is mutual.

“I love working with Martha. It’s just a treat.”

Sally Cole, an entertainment writer with The Guardian., writes her Stage Door column for The Guardian every Friday. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at scole@theguardian.pe.ca or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.

Up close and nostalgic with a Canadian actress

- Actress Robin Craig played Toppy Bailey in a popular television series, Wind At My Back, for 12 years. She received a Gemini award for the role.

- Years after the wrap party she stays in touch with the production's stars Shirley Douglas and Kathy Greenwood.

- Of the show she says: “Wind at My Back was set at the time when my parents would have met. Playing Toppy I felt like I was living in my mother’s time. I lost my mother when I was 11, so it was lovely to revisit this time.”

- Her favourite memory: “I had some of my mother’s porcelain buttons and the designer, Ruth Secord, put them on a dress for me.”

Organizations: The Guild, Harbourfront Theatre, Stage Door

Geographic location: Charlottetown, British Columbia, Kathy Greenwood.

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