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'It's like a full circle': Coquitlam actor stars in Anne of Green Gables musical

Coquitlam's Kyra Leroux, 20, portrays Anne Shirley in Gateway Theatre's musical adaptation of the novel.

When Kyra Leroux graduated from Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam, there wasn’t much of a send-off for her Class of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and physical distancing measures and other restrictions were plenty around the province.

But Leroux knew it was only a matter of time before she could return to acting, a passion she’s had since the age of seven.

By September, as soon as the film and television industry was OK'd to proceed cautiously, Leroux had her resume ready for bookings.

And they in came fast and furious.

The triple threat was cast in the TV series The Quaranteens and in Julie and the Phantoms, as well as in three episodes of Schmigadoon!, playing Carrie McDonough opposite the stars Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong.

Leroux took on a few more parts — including in the made-for-TV movie Christmas Takes Flight — before winning the character of Britta Berach on Riverdale and Lisa-Karen on Firefly Lane, both made for T.V.

Now, the 20-year-old Coquitlam resident is in technical rehearsals at the Gateway Theatre in Richmond to star in a role of a lifetime: Anne Shirley.

Leroux said she was thrilled to get the lead in the iconic Canadian story of Anne of Green Gables after being asked by the musical’s director to audition.

Barbara Tomasic had remembered the red-haired girl from 2016 when she directed Leroux in Gateway’s Music Man.

And Leroux remembered being in awe of that production and its cast as it was her first professional community show.

"It's really cool to be the lead for Gateway now," she told the Tri-City News on Tuesday (Dec. 6) from the Richmond theatre. "It’s like a full circle."

Leroux said she pored over the 1908 novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery as soon as she was named Anne Shirley in late July.

"I loved the book so much that I ordered the second book on Amazon the day that I finished the first," she said.

Anne Shirley, she said, is an orphan from Nova Scotia who, by luck, is mistakenly sent to the wrong home in Prince Edward Island.

The elderly homeowners had wanted a boy to keep up their farm; however, a girl is sent instead and changes their lives with her strong will and imagination.

With their blessing‚ and eventually the community’s, Anne blossoms.

"She has this huge curiosity for how the world works," Leroux said. "She has a huge heart and very much cares for others although she’s never really experienced love herself.

"She sees so much beauty around her."

Asked what she wants the audience to get out of the musical show, Leroux said she hopes the production will inspire connection, and acceptance of other people — especially during the holidays.

Also appearing in the youth ensemble is Owen CB Scott of Port Moody while Tri-Cities resident Nicol Spinola is the choreographer.

Written by Donald Harron with music by Norman Campbell (and adapted from the novel by L.M. Montgomery), Anne of Green Gables — The Musical runs from Dec. 15 to 31 at the Gateway Theatre (6500 Gilbert Rd.).

Tickets start at $35 with performances at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For more information, you can visit Gateway Theatre's website.