About Edward Staskus

Edward Staskus is a free-lance writer from Sudbury, Ontario, and lives in Lakewood, Ohio.

Rudy the New Shirley

Introducing Emma Rudy: The Charlottetown Festival Announces new Anne Shirley for Flagship Musical

Stratford, ON native will star in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™, June 24-Sept 28

 

It’s official, there’s a new Anne in town. Artistic Director of Confederation Centre of the Arts, Adam Brazierannounced today that Emma Rudy will take centre stage in the treasured Island musical this summer. Following an exhaustive casting search, Miss Rudy will become the 19th actor to play Anne Shirley in the celebrated history of Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ at The Charlottetown Festival.

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Confederation Centre’s crown jewel musical returns for its 55th consecutive summer–a testament to the global appeal of “a classic inspired by a classic”. Following Anne’s search for love and belonging in her adopted home of P.E.I., the musical has been redesigned by Brazier and his team, with thrilling new choreography, all new sets and costumes, and a must-see revolving stage, showcasing the Green Gables house like never before.

“Emma Rudy is an extraordinary talent with a stunning soprano and is a very strong actress,” offers Brazier, who will again direct the storied musical. “Her approach to the material showed a maturity of thought without losing the youthful joy and optimism that carries Anne through her life.”

He continues, “What set Emma apart from the many wonderful actors that auditioned was the reverence with which she approached the role and audition. Emma understands the significance of playing Anne at The Charlottetown Festival.”

Born and raised in Stratford, Ontario, Miss Rudy is a Toronto-based performer and recent Sheridan College graduate. Currently, she is starring in nearby Moncton, New Brunswick as ‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast at the Capitol Theatre. Other credits include ‘Marty’ in Grease (Wintergarden); Honour (Stratford Masonic Hall); and Rumspringa Break! (Theatre Passe Muraille).

For her part, Miss Rudy is delighted to be making her Festival debut. “I can’t wait to fall in love with Prince Edward Island the same way Anne did, and to discover the beauty the world has to offer through her eyes,” she offers. “Having the opportunity to play the imaginative, adventurous, stubborn, intelligent, and passionate Anne is truly a childhood dream manifesting itself into reality,” she beams. “I have held her story dear to my heart for my entire life, and I am overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude.”

The Charlottetown Festival’s crown jewel musical, sponsored by CAA, returns June 24 to September 28 in the Homburg Theatreat Confederation Centre. Choreography is from Robin Calvert, music direction from Craig Fair, sound design by Peter McBoyle, costume and scenic design from Cory Sincennes, and lighting design by Michel Walton.

The title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival is CIBC. Stay tuned for more Charlottetown Festival lead casting announcements in the coming months.

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Make Yourself Heard

Confederation Centre Launches the Symons Medal and Lecture Essay Contest

Students challenged to reflect on state of Confederation at present; $2,000 in prizes available

 

The Symons Medal and Lecture Essay Contest invites Prince Edward Island students in grades 11 and 12 to submit an original and creative essay or digital piece responding to the current state of Canadian Confederation.

The Symons Medal is one of Canada’s most prestigious honours, recognizing a distinguished person who has made an exceptional contribution to Canadian life. The 2018 Symons Medal was awarded to internationally-acclaimed historian, Dr. Margaret MacMillan, C.C., on November 23 in the Homburg Theatre at Confederation Centre of the Arts. Dr. MacMillan’s accompanying Symons Medal Lecture was entitled ‘The Lion’s Cub: The First World War and the Evolution of the Canadian Nation.

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This year’s essay contest theme challenges students to consider pressing issues surrounding Canadian identity, such as: does Confederation look and mean the same as it did when Canada was first dreamed into being? If the national union is indeed still working, then is it working for everyone? If not, how could Canadian union be more inclusive? What could Confederation look like in 2050?

Students may reflect upon these questions or develop their own themes within the broader Canadian Confederation subject. Students may wish to draw upon ideas presented during Dr. MacMillan’s 2018 Symons Medal Lecture

Alternatively, students may develop a digital design to present their essay, such as a podcast or video form (no more than 10 minutes) or a mixed media, such as long-form blog with images and video. Winning entrants will receive prizes totaling $2,000.

The essays will be reviewed by a panel of judges appointed by the Centre and winners will be announced in May 2018. Student contestants should submit their entry by April 30, 2019 via email toetheuerkauf@confederationcentre.com; or can be mailed to Ellen Theuerkauf, Confederation Centre of the Arts, 145 Richmond Street, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1J1. For more information, visit the Confederation Centre’s website.

Call for Playwrights

Call For Submissions – New Plays in Development by PEI Playwrights

Watermark Theatre is calling for submissions of new non-musical plays from PEI playwrights to be included in our 2019 Play Reading Series during the month of August 2019 at the theatre in North Rustico, PEI.

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Plays must:
– be written by playwrights who currently reside in PEI or were born and raised in PEI but currently reside elsewhere
– be unpublished and unproduced at time of submission
– be non-musicals
– have a cast size of 8 or less
– have a running time between 60 minutes and 120 minutes
– be submitted in English (although portions of the play may be in another language)

Plays can be of any topic or genre the playwright chooses. Each playwright may submit no more than two scripts. Plays that were submitted last year are ineligible.

Please send submissions of plays along with a playwright biography and contact information by e-mail to artisticdirector@watermarktheatre.com

Deadline for submissions is March 31st, 2019.

Playwrights of the 3 plays selected will be notified by May 15th, 2019.

For more information please contact Andrea Surich at 902‐963‐3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Show on the Road

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Erin McQueen isn’t blonde, doesn’t often wear pearls carry a silk hand fan suit up in gilded dresses with bows at the breast and puffed sleeves, and rarely looks perplexed. She does, however, speak with an English accent, which comes in handy when you’re a blonde sporting a string of pearls in a posh dress in the Restoration-era play “The Man of Mode.”

Staged by the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the comedy by George Etherege is about a notorious man-about-town trying to slip-slide out of his love affairs and win over the young spunky seemingly virtuous heiress Harriet.

The play hit the bright lights way back when at just the right time. William Shakespeare had died 60 years earlier. The screws tightened by the Puritans had been recently loosened and women were finally being allowed to play female roles on stage.

There’s nothing like a gal in a gal’s role, rather than some scruffy cross-dresser.

“The make up and costumes are totally different from any other show we’ve done,” said Erin, then in her final year at the school. “Having the period costumes is really exciting. It’s a total transformation. The play truly is an authentic glimpse inside the intricate dating scene of 1676.”

Although she paced her prowling at a good trot, cast arched looks in the stagecraft of 17th century love stories, and had at it with barbed one-liners, like everyone else in a play that is all innuendo and intrigue, unlike everyone else in the play her English accent was neither feigned nor all wrong.

Even though she graduated from high school in Canada, spent four years at Dalhousie University, earning a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Theatre, lives in Victoria on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, and her father is Canadian, she isn’t, not entirely Canadian, not exactly.

Erin McQueen is British, born and bred in Bristol.

“It’s right on the border with Wales,” said Erin.

Iron Age hill forts and remnants of Roman villas dot the southwestern British landscape. In the 11th century the town was known as Brycgstow, easier to pronounce then than it is now. The port was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery to the New World in the 15th century. Today the modern economy of the city is built on aerospace, electronics, and creative media.

Unlike most cities, it has its own money, the Bristol pound, which is pegged to the Pound sterling. “Our town, our money,” is what they say in Bristol. Since money is a matter of belief, it’s best to believe in what you’ve got.

“There are a lot of art festivals,” said Erin.

“They do a scavenger hunt every summer with ceramic animals. They started with gorillas, giving giant ceramic gorillas to artists, who painted them, and businesses sponsored them in their shops and on sidewalks, where you had to find them. They have a theatre festival, too, but that only started when we left.”

She was 16-years-old.

“The first time we came to Canada we went to see Halifax, where my father was born. It also happened to be the 150th anniversary of ‘Anne of Green Gables.’ My sister Caitlin was a massive fan. My parents finally said, ‘OK, we are in Halifax anyway, we’ll just pop over to Prince Edward Island.’”

She was 11-years-old.

“We did the tour, all the Anne of Green Gables things,” said Caitlin McQueen. They stayed in Victoria, a small village of maybe one hundred residents near the Westmoreland River. It is much, much smaller than Bristol, which is the 8th largest urban area in England, home to nearly a million.

”I remember saying to Erin, I know I’ve never been here before, but I feel like I am coming home. I feel like I am supposed to be here. It is a dream come true.”

“I don’t really know what happened after that,” said Erin, “but the next year and for a couple of years after, we came back, and we always ended up in Victoria.”

While on a return trip, Andy and Tania McQueen, Erin and Caitlin’s parents, bought a lot overlooking the village harbor. In 2012 the family immigrated to Canada. They commissioned a house to be built, to be completed for occupancy the following spring. That winter was the winter they almost went back to the UK, back to England, back to Bristol.

“We spent a year living in Hampton, just up the road, in a rented house that had no central heating,” said Erin. ”I’m honestly surprised we didn’t move home that winter, because it was horrible.”

The winter months on PEI can be cold, temperatures averaging below zero in January and February. There are many storms, veering from freezing cold rain to freezing cold blizzards. The February 2013 North American blizzard started in the Northern Plains of the United States. By the third day of its arrival in the Maritimes there was heavy snowfall, wind gusts were hitting 100 MPH, more than a thousand flights had been cancelled across eastern Canada, and all Marine Atlantic ferries were suspended.

There was nowhere to go, anyway.  There are few things as democratic as a snowstorm. It’s the same everyone everywhere weather.

“I feel like many people on this island have done that, lived without central heating, but British people aren’t cut out for Canadian winters in unheated houses. I had a comforter on my bed and many, many blankets. I often wore two pairs of pajamas.”

The McQueen family stuck it out.

“The main reason we didn’t move back to England was probably pride,” said Erin. “Obviously, you can’t move back after five months because your whole family back home would be saying, ‘Oh, so that didn’t go well?’”

The McQueen family cats stuck it out, too.

“They are rescue cats, Callie and Zebedee, and we got their vaccination papers together, and applied for pet passports. My uncle said, ‘Why don’t you just get new cats?’”

“You did not just say that!” said Tania McQueen. “They’re part of the family.”

“Let me tell you, though, cats do not like emigrating,” said Erin. “It traumatized them a little. The only other animals on the plane the eight-hour flight were two dogs, a little thing that barked all the time, and a big, quiet German shepherd. We’re still making up for it six years later.”

The cats slept in front of the fireplace in the living room in the rented house from morning to every next morning from the beginning to the end of winter. Unlike the upstairs rooms, there were no doors downstairs shutting the living room off from the kitchen and two back rooms. They made doors out of blankets to conserve the heat in the living room. The cat litter box was in one of the small rooms, behind a blanket door.

“They would wait quite a long time, and then dart behind the blanket, and as soon as they were done, run back in to the fireplace.”

The school buses stayed the course. Erin enrolled at Bluefield High School to complete her last two years. The family had waited leaving England until she finished her first set of high school exams there.

“It’s a big thing,” she said. “Everyone in the country takes the same exams. You study for them for two years. It’s what you’re working up to that whole time.”

Bluefield High School is in the small town of Hampshire. A $2 million dollar addition in 2000 enlarged and modernized the school, which as well as secondary education trains in carpentry, welding, and applied technology. All of its classrooms feature SmartBoards and there are two computer labs. The sports teams from badminton to hockey are all called the Bluefield Bobcats.

The school is thirteen miles and 90 minutes from Victoria.

“The bus went everywhere, so by the time I got there I didn’t really know where I was, because we had gone all over the island. My first day we did orienteering, even though the school is just surrounded by forest and potato fields. It wasn’t like you ever came across any houses. It was very different from Bristol.”

Her plan had been to study fashion design and costume, but her plans changed. “They didn’t have any sewing or couture classes. They did have drama, so I thought, I guess drama is where my theatrical tendencies are going to have to go.”

After graduation she enrolled at Dalhousie University, majoring in anthropology, keeping acting in the back of her mind. “I took acting as an elective and later auditioned for the program. If I get in, I’ll think about it, I thought. I didn’t think I actually would. And then I did.”

In order to find the unexpected it’s best to expect it. You can’t plan for it, but it’s what often changes your life. ”All creative people want to do the unexpected,” said Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous Hollywood starlet and designer of a patented frequency-hopping radio guidance system for torpedoes. Even though she once said, “Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid,” her smart invention was the precursor to GPS, secure WiFi, and Bluetooth technology.

“My sister is the anthropologist, no acting, although she’s fascinated by actors,” said Erin. “She thinks she might do a research project about them one day. Actors never know what the future holds. They’re rarely employed for a long time, always on the way to their next role. It’s living on the edge. It’s the idea that you could love doing something so much that you choose that over stability or financial security.

“That’s what I want to do.”

It’s taking the show on the road. “I’m just going to start auditioning in Halifax. There are so many small weird theatre spaces. I’m thinking of potentially writing a fringe play.” She has no plans of pursuing the discipline of anthropology.

Her four years studying the arts and sciences of theater at Dalhousie University were matched by four summers working in theater in her newly adopted hometown.

“My parents saw there was a job at the Victoria Playhouse. I needed to work in the village. It was the perfect job, since although I do now drive, I couldn’t drive at the time. I could meet people in the industry, too.”

The Victoria Playhouse, in the middle of town, in what used to be the Victoria Hall, seats about 150, and has been producing and presenting live theater and performance events for thirty-seven seasons. In 2007 it was designated a ‘Historic Place’ on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. History gets made every summer seven days a week on its stage.

She worked the refreshment stand her first two summers.

“I don’t do that so much anymore,” she said last summer. “You could say I’ve moved up.”

She worked part-time in the box office, then went full-time, and worked front of the house. Odd jobs became must-do jobs. “I helped one of the actors run their lines, and then I did that a couple more times.” When the stage manager was conscripted to do lighting cues, she went backstage. “I gave the actors their places, which was exciting. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the show goes on.”

Sometimes the lighting cues are on the sturm und drang side of the curtain, occasioning careful calculation. Higher than normal water temperatures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence can and do morph into massive thunderstorms, roiling the island. It is batten down the hatches and check the flashlights.

“In villages like this, in bad thunderstorms, power goes out,” said Erin. “The doors are going to open in twenty minutes, the power keeps flickering off and on, and the management has to make a call about whether you think you can make it through the show.”

She became one of the emcees at the front of the stage, pointing out the exits, encouraging donations to the theater, and introducing the play. After the show was over was her favorite time. “It might sound corny, but at the end of the show, when we get to open the curtain and the applause, and afterwards the actors are happy, a kind of high, even with small crowds, that they brought a story to life and created some magic for the audience.”

After her employment contract at the Victoria Playhouse expired at the end of October, she moved back to Halifax, where she went to university, and where there is a red-blooded theatre scene. It is zesty and diverse, ranging from Zuppa Theatre, whose performances defy categorization, to the Neptune Theatre, whose performances outpace categorization.

“Some of the actors who worked at the Playhouse live in Halifax, so that’s quite cool,” she said. “They came to my shows at Dalhousie and I went to their shows.

“Acting, that’s my plan.”

If in the event a professional acting career doesn’t pan out, she is determined to keep her foot on the boards, front back or in the wings. ”If I wasn’t an actor, I’d be a secret agent,” said Thornton Wilder. Erin’s secret is all parts of the theater business interest her, from acting to directing to writing to the nuts and bolts.

“If I’m not acting, I will definitely be doing something in theatre. It’s plow ahead.”

It’s keeping your hand on the gospel plow.

“A part of me is intrigued by stage management,” she said. “Stage managers are another level of human being. They’re like super people with super powers. They’re the people you go to if you have any issues, personal, professional, or logistical. One of my stage managers at Dalhousie had a locker full of extra clothes and every kind of medicine you could imagine. They are prepared for anything.”

A career in the arts often means being a jack-of-all-trades.

“I am very into doing whatever I can,” said Erin.

If you want to accomplish anything something everything, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes, maybe not blood, but certainly sweat, and probably a locker loaded for bear, to make it work, to make it happen.

Originally posted on http://www.redislandpei.com

Win Her Heart

Who in your life deserves a special something for Valentine’s Day?

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Tag a friend, family member, or loved one, make sure you both like our page…and you could win this Swarovski crystal necklace from the Confederation Centre Showcase Gift Shop and two tickets to our ‘Valentine’s Cabaret’ on February 14.

Drawing the winner at the end of the month!

Take a Tour Hear a Story

The Story of Confederation

Explore the Confederation Chamber, an accurate replica of the Province House site where Canada was born.

The Story of Confederation offers visitors the opportunity to experience Province House in Prince Edward Island National Historic Site and the Charlottetown Conference while Province House is closed for conservation work over the next three to five years.

HOURS OF OPERATION 

The Upper Foyer of the Confederation Centre of the Arts has been transformed into a stunning replica of the historic Confederation Chamber where the Fathers of Confederation met during the Charlottetown Conference. While there, watch Parks Canada’s new film, “A Building of Destiny”, which transports viewers back in time to the first eight days in September, 1864, when the discussions that took place at Province House would change the face of North America. This film also showcases related themes, including the First Nations context at the time of Confederation and the role of women in Victorian society.

To book a private tour, or more information, please contact chamber@confederationcentre.com

Rumors Rumors Rumors

BUY TICKETS NOW!

MARCH 1, 2, 8, & 9, 7:30 PM at the Harbourfront Theatre
MARCH 10, 2:00 PM
All Seats: $20.00 (tax & fees included)

The Harbourfront Players in:
Rumors
by Neil Simon

Directed by Marlane O’Brien

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At a large, tastefully-appointed Sneden’s Landing townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York has just “accidentally” shot himself. Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe attack of FARCE. Gathering for their tenth wedding anniversary, the host lies bleeding in the other room, and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer Ken and Ken’s wife, Chris, must get “the story” straight before the other guests arrive. As the confusions and mis-communications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity.

While this play is a farce, there are mature themes and occasional off-colour language. Not recommended for small children. “PG13” – parents use discretion.