Lions and Bears and Foxes, Oh My!

Vancouver’s Lion Bear Fox will open the Victoria Playhouse Musical Mondays on July 4. Originally known for their respective solo careers, Christopher Arruda, Ryan McMahon and Cory Woodward joined forces as Lion Bear Fox in 2012 and were immediately selected as one of the top 20 unsigned bands British Columbia (Peak Performance Project).

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The fall of 2013 saw the band release their self-produced breakthrough EP “We’d Be Good Men” and take Western Canada by storm, touring 15 times over the next two years including stops at Canadian Music Week (Toronto), Contact East (PEI), OSAC (Regina) Mission Folk Festival and The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. Terry David Mulligan with The Nanaimo Daily News called the group “a musical force of nature” and “emotional awakening”.

With the help of friend and producer Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run), the trio spent ten days in the Vancouver Island wilderness crafting “the record of their lives” –  a collection of songs steeped in character and full of warmth.  One part folk, one part rock – a pinch of gospel and a dash of growl, the self-titled LP is a testament to the trio’s strength as songwriters.

“All three artists are known for the passion they bring to their performances and the honest songs they write,” writes the Ladysmith Chronicle, “and they have succeeded in creating gripping, dynamic songs while capturing a sincerity rarely heard this side of the 2000’s.

For tickets call the Playhouse box office at 1.800.925.2025 or visit the Victoria website at http://www.victoriaplayhouse.com.

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Linda Tweel Portrait Joins Harris Collection

The Collections Committee at Confederation Centre recently accepted a large 1887 portrait, painted by Robert Harris, for the Art Gallery’s extensive Harris Collection.

The oil on canvas painting was gifted to the Centre in memory of Linda Tweel, to recognize the many contributions she made throughout her lifetime in the fields of education, culture, and community affairs. Linda Tweel was an early member of the Woman’s Committee of Confederation Centre of the Arts, and served as Chair of the Friends of Confederation Centre for several years.

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Gallery Director, Kevin Rice welcomed the addition. “It is always exciting to have collectors offer interesting works for the Collection; the support of donors like Mr. Tweel is critical in building a Canadian art collection in Charlottetown,” said Rice. “With this gift we see a continuation of support for Confederation Centre from the Linda Tweel family.”

Since the Art Gallery began collecting in 1964, its holdings have grown to over 17,000 items including a comprehensive research collection and archive on the works of Charlottetown-raised Robert Harris (1849-1919),  a painter of the iconic group portrait, The Fathers of Confederation.

Music Series Catches Fire at the Watermark

Watermark Announces Music Series Programming

Watermark Theatre is pleased to announce our 2016 Classic Music Reignited Programming for the summer season. This year we have an all Canadian lineup of classic composers that our Island artists will be interpreting in their own special way.

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July 24th, 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Buffy Saint Marie & Bruce Cockburn
Performed by: Mike Mooney, Beck Sisters

August 7th, 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Leonard Cohen & Gordon Lightfoot
Performed by: Chas Guay, Amanda Jackson Band

August 21st 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Guess Who & Bryan Adams
Performed by: Tian Wigmore, Nathan Wiley

Headliners:

The Beck Sisters- It’s hard to beat the harmonic intuition of sisters. Amy & Rachel Beck began singing together around the family piano in Montague, PEI. They now share their pop-tinged folk with eager audiences in Canada and beyond. “Their music is stripped down to just the vocals and guitar, but when you sound like this, that’s all you need.” (CBC Music)

Amanda Jackson Band- What do you get when you combine one of the most powerfully mesmerizing voices on the East Coast blues scene with a creative force of musical accompaniment by Dale McKie on guitar/harmonica and Todd MacLean on piano/guitar/saxophone? You get a captivating blend of original adult alternative/folk/blues music that goes straight to your soul, makes your spirit soar, and makes you feel connected to where you need to be.

Nathan Wiley- Multiple ECMA and Music PEI award winning artist Nathan Wiley splits his time these days between recording new material and producing including an ECMA winning record for Gordie MacKeeman & his Rhythm Boys. In July, Nathan released “Bandits”, his first collection of original material in 7 years.

Supporting acts:

Mike Mooney- Mike Mooney has been a mainstay of PEI’s music scene for decades as part of bands including Touch and Gone, the Dogs and Birdhouse. He’s recorded vocals for many Island artists with an uncanny knack for finding that perfect harmony.

Chas Guay- As an established first-call bassist, Chas has performed with Mick Taylor of Rolling Stones fame, Doug Riley, Gene MacLellan, Dr. Hook, Nathan Wiley, Lennie Gallant, Mae Moore, Don Ross/Brooke Miller and countless others. Chas has 2 albums to his credits and has won both ECMA and Music PEI awards including Male Vocalist of the year and Musician of the Year.

Tian Wigmore- Tian has been a much sought-after musician serving as touring and recording session guitarist and vocalist for many of Canada’s best artists including Big Sugar, The Trews, Tim Chaisson, In Flight Safety, and Andy Brown. His unique vocal stylings are powerful and recognizable in an instant. After 11 years, he needed a platform of his own, and “War Horses” was born. Tian has released one album under the name War Horses and received the 2016 Music PEI award for Best New Artist.

All tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://www.watermarktheatre.com or by calling 902-963-3963.

Annekenstein Rises Again

After 19 years Annekenstein & Friends is returning to The Guild stage to take back its crown as PEI’s favourite sketch comedy show. Created by Rob MacDonald (Sketch-22, The Popalopalots), the stage show grew from cult favourite to mainstream success by poking fun at all things “Island” during its initial 7-year run.

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Annekenstein & Friends plays Saturday nights at The Guild from July 2nd – August 20th.

Spoon River, Magical, Musical Theatre

Albert Schultz & Charlottetown’s Mike Ross bring acclaimed production to The Mack.

For Mike Ross, Spoon River felt like a show he’d been preparing to compose his whole life. A resident artist with Soulpepper Theatre Company, and now music director, it took a brief encounter with Artistic Director Albert Schultz to connect the Island native with a 100-year-old text that would soon change his life.

After wrapping a meeting for another project, Schultz tossed Ross an old copy of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. The collection of free-verse poems was written in 1915, and each poem is a kind of extended epitaph for townsfolk in the fictional community of Spoon River, Illinois.

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“Spoon River is an incredibly theatrical collection of stories. It’s about the full spectrum of life, a theme that always resonates with me,” offers Schultz, an accomplished actor and director, and Member of the Order of Canada. “It’s relatable and human; there’s vice and violence but also wonder and glory, and nature and love. As soon as I read it, I knew that Mike would be the one to set it to music.”

“I had never heard of it,” recalls Ross, co-adaptor, composer, and musical director for the production, opening July 6 at The Mack. “I was immediately inspired by the range of voices and stories from these people sharing their loves, losses, regrets, and triumphs. It is truly a timeless study of small town life in all of its richness and eccentricity, and it is perfect for the stage.”

The Soulpepper production would go on to win Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards for Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical and Dora Awards for Outstanding New Musical and Outstanding Musical Direction. Now the production is taking root at The Mack, and is again directed by Schultz. Featuring a stacked cast of 11 performers who double as on-stage musicians – including Matt Campbell, Alicia Toner, Sandy Winsby, and Alana Bridgewater – this rousing hootenanny is grounded in roots and old time music, calling to mind the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?

“The way we present Spoon River places audiences right in the show’s community: you recognize these characters, especially if you’re from a small town,” continues Schultz. “And bringing the play to Charlottetown and to the intimate Mack space encourages this immersive experience. We’re thrilled to share this original Canadian work for the first time outside of Toronto, and with such an exceptional cast of Canadian artists.”

For Ross, this also represents a powerful full circle back to the city and the Festival where he got his start, performing in Fire! and Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™. “Bringing Masters’ vibrant characters to life with this group of gifted performers is unforgettable, as is having that energy connect with audiences — the most important people in the theatre at any moment,” he says. “In this show, everyone plays a part: you, the audience, have been cast in the role of ‘passerby.’ And to have that role played by people from the town in which I was born, is one of the great honours of my life.”

Spoon River is produced by The Charlottetown Festival, in association with Soulpepper Theatre Company. The musical opens July 6, and plays select dates until August 20 at The Mack, a part of Confederation Centre.

Watermark Theatre on Verge of Summer Season

The sets are being built, costumes designed, music composed and the lights are being focused as Watermark Theatre prepares for their 2016 summer season. There is definitely an excitement in the air this summer as the company embarks on several new initiatives and two famous plays that are sure to please local audiences and visitors alike.

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Everyone is waiting with anticipation for the announcement of which plays are to be included in the new Play Reading Series in August, the new Watermark Mentorship Program has a series of design and backstage interns already hard at work preparing for the season, but of course it is the plays of Tennessee Williams and Noel Coward that has everyone eagerly awaiting the start of the season.

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is one of those beautifully written, honest, and heartbreaking plays that come around once a decade, if not once a century”, says director and new Artistic Director Robert Tsonos. “The cast and I are mining the script for any clues into the minds of these very human and flawed characters. The play is about hope, about family, about dreams and aspirations. It’s based on Tennessee Williams’ own family and depicts his life growing up in St. Louis during the Depression. It’s a play that is sure to touch the heart and reach into the soul.”

Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit is his most famous play and thought by many critics to be the best constructed of his comic plays”, says director Alan Kinsella. “The cast and I have had so much fun bringing this fantasy-comedy to life with its larger than life characters and hilarious situations. The play was first produced in the spring of 1941 in London during the Blitz as an antidote for those troubled times. Years later the play still stands the test of time and is as relatable and funny to a modern audience as it was then.”

Blithe Spirit begins performances on June 28th and The Glass Menagerie on July 8th and both run until the end of August at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico.

From Sea to Shining Sea (On Dry Land)

‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ Historic Vignette

Location: Richmond Street side of Province House, Rain location: Confederation Chamber exhibition located in the Upper Foyer of Confederation Centre.

Hours of Operation: Daily historic vignette runs at 12:50 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.

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In addition to the daily historic vignette, the Confederation Players will be offering guided walking tours, beginning July 2nd. See schedule and details below:

(Departing from the Visitor Information Centre, 178 Water St.)

· 10 a.m.-11 a.m. – Tuesday to Saturday – Historic Great George Tour

· 2 p.m.-3 p.m. – Wednesday to Saturday – Visite guidée de la rue Great George

· 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. – Tuesday to Saturday – Historic Great George Tour

(Departing from the 1864 sculpture beside Province House)

· 11 a.m.-11:45 a.m. – Friday to Saturday – La place historique Queen

· 2:30 p.m.-3:15 p.m. – Tuesday-Saturday – Queen Square Tour