Anne Shirley, a young orphan from Nova Scotia, is mistakenly sent to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister, who live on a farm called Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. Having sent for a boy to help out on the farm. Marilla insists that she be returned to the orphanage, but when she learns of Anne’s difficult childhood she decides to allow Anne to stay and to raise her properly.
With a vivid imagination, the red-headed, freckle-faced Anne takes much joy in life and is never at a loss for chattering about how she feels – often driving the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction. But shy Matthew falls for her immediately, and they become what Anne calls “kindred spirits.” Audiences will delight in Anne’s humorous adventures at school – her friendship with Diana Barry, her “bosom friend” – her academic rivalry with classmate Gilbert Blythe who, having teased her about her red hair, earned Anne’s instant and ongoing hatred – and Anne’s endearing way of getting into trouble, yet finding ways to make it all work out. The once quiet lifestyle of the small farming community will never be the same. Near the end of the musical, the happy anticipation of Anne furthering her education and earning her teaching certificate is turned to sadness when her friend, the kindly Matthew, suddenly dies. Soon after, Marilla has decided to sell the farm at Green Gables – as she cannot manage it on her own. Learning of this, Anne decides to give up her ambition of going away to school and stay at Green Gables to care for Marilla and help manage the farm. When Gilbert hears of Anne’s self-sacrifice, he offers his help – and the two finally reconcile.
Anne, however, is determined and stubborn as ever. She decides that she will earn her teaching degree at home through correspondence, that she and Marilla will be just fine, and that “all’s right with the world.”