‘Melville Boys’ Opens 35th Victoria Season

The Victoria Playhouse opens its thirty-fifth season on June 26 with Norm Foster’s classic Canadian comedy, The Melville Boys. The Victoria Playhouse has produced dozens of works by Canadian playwrights, both emerging and established, since its first season in 1982.

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“Norm Foster is Canada’s most produced playwright,” says Pat Stunden Smith, Managing Director of the Victoria Playhouse. “He has a great instinct for dialogue and his scripts are at once funny and real.”

The Melville Boys features Jeremie Saunders and Becca Griffin, reprising the dynamic onstage rapport that made 2014’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun such an outstanding success. Newcomers to the Victoria Playhouse, Corey Turner and Helen Killorn, round out this vibrant cast.

 

Symons Medal Medalists Shaping Up

On Monday, June 6, 2016 Confederation Centre of the Arts, Canada’s national memorial to the founding of the country, will announce this year’s recipient of the Symons Medal, one of Canada’s most prestigious honours.

The Symons Medal is presented annually by Confederation Centre to recognize distinguished persons who have made an exceptional contribution to Canadian culture and heritage.

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Since 2004, Confederation Centre has honoured 15 distinguished Symons Medalists. Past recipients include His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; His Excellency Governor General David Johnston; former Prime Minister Paul Martin; President of the national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Mary Simon; broadcaster and environmental leader, David Suzuki; and Canadian actor and director Paul Gross.

The annual presentation of the Symons Medal is an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize an outstanding contribution to national life, and to reflect upon their country and its future. As part of the medal ceremony, the celebrated recipient delivers a major address on the state of Canada, and its place in the world.

The Symons Medal Ceremony will take place this year on Friday, November 4, 2016 at Confederation Centre. Held each fall to mark the 1864 meetings of the Fathers of Confederation in Charlottetown, the medal ceremony creates a national platform for a prominent Canadian to discuss the nation’s current state and future prospects. Canada’s only national memorial to the Fathers of Confederation, Confederation Centre’s mandate is to inspire Canadians to celebrate the founding and evolution of their country.

The opportunity to take in the recipient’s medal ceremony and lecture will be made available through the Confederation Centre Box Office at a later date. For more information, please visit confederationcentre.com/symonsmedallecture and follow event updates on social media @confedcentre and via #Symons2016.

The Symons Medal is named in honour of Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, a long-time supporter of Confederation Centre and a Board Governor. Professor Symons, the founding President of Trent University, is widely recognized for his work in the field of Canadian Studies, particularly within public policy, heritage, and education.

6 Guitars, 1 Musician, 5 Stars

6 Guitars is a pitch perfect blend of music, comedy and unforgettable characters. Chase Padgett delivers a virtuosic performance as he becomes 6 different guitar players – each with their own distinct voice, views and musical style (Blues, Jazz, Rock, Classical, Folk and Country). Each character plays music, shares their history with music from discovery to mastery, and then celebrates or skewers the other genres.

“I don’t need fancy chords for country. Just play G. What’s wrong with G? If your chord has a number in it you’re a jerk.” With plenty of laughs and songs from all genres this show is for the music lover in all of our hearts.

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Since the show’s premiere in 2010 6 Guitars it has earned numerous awards, rave reviews and standing ovations all over North America. It has relentlessly sold out houses in every festival it has appeared in and won Pick of the Fringe for both Edmonton and Vancouver. It is also one of the top 5 highest grossing acts in the history of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival where it sold almost 3000 tickets in 12 days.

Hilarious, charming and at times surprisingly poignant, 6 Guitars is a show so good, you’ll want to see it again and again.

“5 stars, Chase Padgett’s Six Guitars is nothing short of a storytelling masterpiece. The play will leave you doing two things: laughing until you cry, and lifting your jaw to its proper position.” – The Edmonton Sun.

“Actor and musician Chase Padgett expertly combines his guitar chops with his acting abilities to deliver a stunning performance…” – Austin Post

“6 Guitars is note perfect.” – Ottawa Citizen

“Chase Padgett’s accomplishment in 6 Guitars is so virtuosic that it had me on my feet.” – Georgia Straight

“5 Stars, A masterful storyteller and captivating entertainer…” – Vue Weekly

6 Guitars is at the Harbourfront on Friday, April 29, at 7:30 PM.

Local Composer Goes Local

He commands the majestic pipe organ at the Basilica, he supervises music for the Diocese of Charlottetown, and he conducts the Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra. This summer, Leo Marchildon will add a new musical accomplishment to his Island repertoire, composing the music for the 2016 Watermark Theatre productions of “Blithe Spirit” and “The Glass Menagerie”

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His musical skills were formed early at the famed St. Michaelʼs Choir School in Toronto, where he was a top student. This was the beginning of a path leading to degrees through The Royal Canadian College of Organists, The Western Conservatory, the University of Toronto and the University of Southern California.

Leo has toured with productions of “Phantom of the Opera,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Bugs Bunny on Broadway”. He worked as musical editor for the television series “The Adventures of Sinbad” and ”Gene Roddenberryʼs Andromeda”. But Leoʼs first musical love is composing. His compositions can be heard in the stage production “Millieʼs Girls,” the feature film “Gabriela,” and the documentary “Cell Block Scholars” (which earned him a regional Emmy nomination).

Many Islanders will recall, of course, that Leo is the composer of the music for the stage production “The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery”, as well as “Canada, Our Dear Home”, his symphonic tribute celebrating PEIʼs culture and its role as the birthplace of Confederation.

The Watermark Theatre is delighted to have found a talent like Leoʼs here on the Island, and looks forward to working with him during the upcoming season.

Wit at the Guild

PEI’s own WITTY Mama, an all women’s improv comedy company, will host a night of improvisational comedy in Charlottetown on Friday, April 29, 2016, at The Guild. Proceeds will go to PEI United Way and to scholarships for WITTY Mama classes for women.

Alanna Jankov, Executive Director of The Guild, is thrilled to support WITTY Mama’s second show. “It’s important to The Guild to support, nourish and be part of creating opportunities for women to participate in theatre,” she said.

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For anyone wondering what you can expect from a night of Improv, veteran performer and director of WITTY Mama, Nancy McLure said, ‘You can expect anything! It could be good, it could be bad, it could be funny, it could be sad. What you can count on is having some fun being part of a creative experience like no other.’

WITTY Mama was born from the original WITTY (Women’s Improv Thrown Together, Yo), a group of women who came together to laugh, stretch themselves, and grow their improv skills in the winter of 2015. Kirstin Lund, one of the founders of WITTY Mama saw the opportunity for a women’s improv group after having experienced improv years ago, through Laurie Murphy of F.I.G.H.T. Club and Drill Queens fame. ‘I’d been searching for a chance to do it again regularly ever since,” said Lund, “It struck me one day that I didn’t need to wait any longer for someone else to provide the opportunity.”

Lund and Patti Larsen, a former F.I.G.H.T. Club performer, came together soon after to coordinate and offer improv classes to women with sponsorship from The Guild.

The show, which starts at 7:30 pm, will be compromised of two 40-minute sets, with the doors, and downstairs bar, opening at 7:00pm. Tickets are ON SALE now for $15, and are available through The Guild.

 

Island Lad Debuts as Gilbert

For the first time in the 52 seasons Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ has run in Charlottetown, an Islander will play Anne’s beau. The Charlottetown Festival has announced that Aaron Hastelow will debut as Gilbert this summer opposite P.E.I.’s Jessica Gallant as Anne. This also marks the first time two Island natives have held the storied production’s romantic leads.

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Hastelow is no stranger to local audiences, having essentially grown up at Confederation Centre and performed in numerous productions, including in Ring of Fire, Anne & Gilbert, two seasons with the Young Company, and as the male lead in the Christmas musical, Cinderella. He recently spent three seasons at the Shaw Festival and is currently performing in Evita for The Vancouver Opera.

“Playing Gilbert is the pinnacle of full circle moments for me,” he remarks. “Having started with the Centre as a child of Avonlea when I was eight years old, to now, finally stepping into Gilbert’s boots — it really doesn’t get much more meaningful. This is the role that inspired me to become an actor, and I can’t tell you what it means to me to be given the opportunity to play this iconic Islander.”

Gallant and Hastelow are both alums of Sheridan College and performed together in the 2010 Young Company. “I am so proud to be from here, and sharing the stage with my dear friend and fellow Islander, Jessica, just makes the moment even sweeter,” he continues. “I feel like we are in for a truly golden summer!”

The Charlottetown Festival is presented by CIBC and Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ begins previews on June 29. Directed by Wade Lynch, Anne™ plays select dates until August 27, 2016. Hastelow will also perform in the ensemble for the ABBA-inspired mega-musical, Mamma Mia!, which begins previews on June 1.

Says the Centre’s Artistic Director Adam Brazier of the latest addition to his company, “It is always so encouraging for us to welcome Islanders back home to our festival. We take great pride in supporting and training the next generation of artists from our province. As one generation exits the stage, another must enter. It is our continued goal to help see that next generation flourish and grow.”

Confederation Centre wishes to recognize Tim Hortons as the title sponsor for Mamma Mia! and acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Exploring Northwest Coast Art

Whether a longtime resident of P.E.I., a new Islander, or a visitor, you may have spent some time examining the Tsimshian totem pole in the Confederation Centre concourse and wondered about the story behind this impressive object.

Found in the outdoor courtyard, the pole is titled Man and Dogfish, and was carved at New Hazelton, British Columbia by Alfred Joseph of the Ilagwiloit First Nation. A project of the First Citizens’ Fund and the B.C. 1971 Centennial Committee, it was donated by the First Nations people of B.C. to Confederation Centre to mark the centenary of B.C.’s joining Confederation in 1871

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Art historian Ron Hawker, who has relocated to the Island in the past year, will shed new light on the totem pole, and put it in some historical context in a free lecture in the Art Gallery. The talk will introduce the history of Northwest Coast art, identify the key media, genres, styles, and both historic and contemporary artists, with a particular focus on totem poles — his current subject of research. This free event will take place Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. and all are welcome.

Hawker most recently taught at the Alberta College of Art and Design following time spent educating at the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the American University of Sharjah, and Zayed University in Dubai. He is the author of Tales of Ghosts: First Nations Art in British Columbia, 1922-1961 (UBC Press 2002), Traditional Architecture in the Arabian Gulf: Building on Desert Tides (Wessex Institute of Technology Press, 2008), and Yakuglas’ Legacy: The Art and Times of Charlie James (University of Toronto Press, 2016).