Road to Avonlea Review: It’s Just A Stage

avonlea it's  just a stage

Episode Summary: Theodora Dixon (Kate Lynch) has waited twenty years for the aloof pig farmer Pat Frewen (Gordon Masten) to propose to her. Theodora is all but ready to give up hope. Meanwhile, Sara’s eccentric, yet respected actress cousin Pigeon Plumtree (Madeline Kahn) comes to town for a visit. She agrees to put on a performance in order to help raise money for Avonlea’s Improvement Society. Sara decides to help Pat finally take the extra step with Theodora. However, the starstruck Pat ends up attempting to court Pigeon, embarrassing both himself and Theodora. In the end, feeling awful for the role she played in the confusion, Pigeon helps Theodora forgive Pat; and the two become engaged after all.

Directed by Rene Bonniere, Written by Marlene Matthews, Music by John Welsman

My Grade: This is a funny, silly episode, but I love it. It features great performances by two accomplished guest actresses at the time, funny Hetty moments, and a classic Avonlea romance (with the help of matchmaker Sara). What more could you ask for? (A-)

avonlea madeline kahn

Spotlight Performance: I have to give this one to Madeline Kahn, who was probably one of those “American actors” Disney insisted on. She’s still great as the eccentric Pigeon Plumtree. The performance is high camp and fabulous…but not completely without its layers. Pigeon is not completely selfish, like the beginning of this episode might make you believe. A great moment is, after a stern talking to from Sara, when Pigeon shows real remorse over how she embarrassed Pat. Kahn, an accomplished comedic actress, really grounds her performance with that one simple scene.

Madeline Kahn passed away in 1999 from cancer. Before then, she received two Oscar nominations for comedies Blazing Saddles and Paper Moon. She also received a Daytime Emmy for her performance in the ABC Afterschool Special “Wanted: The Perfect Guy” (where she worked with a very young Ben Affleck.) She also won a Tony for the Wendy Wasserstein play The Sisters Rosensweig. Her last role was in the sitcom Cosby. She certainly passed away too soon.

Favorite Scene: One of my favorite scenes in the entire series is when Sara and Pigeon are performing “The Owl and the Pussycat.” I don’t know why I love the scene so much. It’s just so sweet…and one of the very few times Sara earns the title “The Story Girl.”

kate lynch

Final Thoughts: This episode also guest stars Kate Lynch. Before Avonlea, she had a role in Anne of Avonlea in a role pretty similar to what she plays in this episode. She was also the very first winner of the Genie (Canadian Oscars, sort of) for Best Leading Actress in 1980 for the Bill Murray movie Meatballs. 

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