Trading Kinky Boots’ red heels for red braids, AJ Bridel is set for school again. The 22-year-old actress will become the 18th triple threat to play Anne Shirley at The Charlottetown Festival, joining an all new production led by Artistic Director Adam Brazier.
2017 marks the first time Brazier will direct the treasured Island musical, and his search for the iconic hero of Avonlea was exhaustive. “AJ brings the kind of imagination, desire, and youthful excitement that is essential to the role,” he explains. “I am very excited to begin the rehearsal process and bring this new Anne Shirley to our stage.”
Born in Calgary and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Bridel is a rising star of Canadian theatre. In 2016 she won a Toronto Critics Award and Dora nomination for her turn as ‘Lauren’ in Mirvish’s Kinky Boots and also starred in the Ross Petty panto Sleeping Beauty. She made a national splash in 2012, placing in the top-3 on CBC TV’s Over the Rainbow reality talent competition and went on to play Dorothy in Drayton’s The Wizard of Oz. Her turn as Anne Shirley will mark her Festival debut as well as her first time on the East Coast.
For her part, Bridel is honoured to join the Festival, calling it a dream role. “I cannot wait to spend the summer on this beautiful island, working with one of Canada’s greatest directors, Adam Brazier and recreating Anne of Green Gables with the incredible cast and crew he has assembled,” she enthuses. “Anne is a Canadian treasure and I am so excited to put those red braids on and try my best to fill the shoes of the incredible actresses who have loved her as much as I do!”
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements as this is the first of several changes towards a revived Anne™ production with Brazier at the helm. Casting news will soon be revealed for ‘Matthew,’ ‘Marilla,’ ‘Rachel Lynde,’ ‘Diana,’ and ‘Gilbert.’
Set designer Cory Sincennes – who has made waves with striking Festival designs (Mamma Mia! and Bittergirl) and at theatres across the country – is hard at work imagining a new visual aesthetic for the now 53-year-strong production. The Festival’s Musical Director Bob Foster is also exploring a new sound design for the show with Peter McBoyle (Evangeline) and other changes. Choreographer Robin Calvert will return in 2017 as well.
Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ begins it Guinness Record Holding 53rd consecutive season June 26, playing the Homburg Theatre until September 23. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2017 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian.