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).

Mack Named Venue of the Year

The Mack Theatre was recognized with the prize for 2016 Venue of the Year, Sunday afternoon at East Coast Music Week. Darcy Campbell, director of LIVE @ the Centre and winter programming, was on hand to proudly collect the trophy at the industry brunch held in Sydney, Cape Breton.

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“On behalf of CEO Jessie Inman, Chairman Wayne Hambly, the board of directors, and all staff at Confederation Centre, we are very honoured to be recognized by the East Coast Music Association as Venue of the Year,” says Campbell. “We wish to thank all our patrons, artists, and sponsors who support this performance space year-round.”

The Mack is also nominated for Venue of the Year at the upcoming 2016 Music P.E.I. Awards. Upcoming performers in the cabaret theatre with Sobeys LIVE @ the Centre include Red Moon Road (April 21), Kim Wempe (April 23), and Royal Wood (April 29 and 30).

The venue will then be reset to prepare for the Atlantic Canadian premiere of the musical Spoon River, produced in association with Soulpepper Theatre Company, playing select dates July 6 to August 20. For more, visit confederationcentre.com.

Smith Rounds Out Watermark Cast

Suzanne Roberts Smith is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada & The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre.

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Some credits include: Soulpepper: Yours Forever, Marie-Lou. Stratford Festival: The Tempest (with Christopher Plummer)/.Two Gentlemen of Verona.Bartholomew Fair.Three Sisters. Phedre. The Empty Room. Melancholy Play. Summerworks:: Maracatu You! (Outstanding Ensemble: NOW Magazine). T.O. Fringe Festival: Offensive to Some. (Outstanding Performance & Production: NOW Magazine). Blyth Festival: The Gingko Tree. The Thirteenth One. T.O. Festival of Clowns: Sad Object Bad Object. Film and Television: Murdoch Mysteries. Tempest.

Royal Wood Lands at The Mack

CBC Music has called Royal Wood “the best performer in Canada right now” and the LIVE @ the Centre favourite returns to the Island April 29 and 30 at The Mack. Since being proclaimed Songwriter of the Year by iTunes five years ago, the pop star has continued to evolve – maintaining an unmistakable identity while uncovering and reinventing his sound over six studio recordings.

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Royal Wood followed a 2013 Juno nomination with the release of Ghost Light in 2015, which debuted atop the Canadian charts, and his national tour brings him to Charlottetown for a two-night stand.

Pinch a Penny

The Pinch Penny Fair is an established Island tradition of spring hosted by the Friends of Confederation Centre. The annual fundraising event helps support the Art-to-the-School Program, the Festive Wreath Contest/Exhibition, the Confederation Centre Youth Choir, children’s art activities, and special projects for the Centre.
picture-of-piggy-bank-with-pennies-photoThe Pinch Penny Fair is more than a giant flea market — shoppers can explore the silent auction, plant tables, and baked goods, as well as locally made arts and crafts. The Kids Zone will feature games, face painting, balloon twisting, prizes, carnival treats, and The Music Man, Michael Pendergast, will be performing for kids of all ages at 10:30 am and 11:30 am in this area. There will also be live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. featuring Judy MacLean Dancers and Angelina MacKinnon.

The 48th annual Pinch Penny Fair is taking place this Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Donations are being accepted until April 21 at the Centre’s Richmond Street entrance. Admission is $2 and children 12 and under are free. For additional information call 902-628-6141 or email friends@confederationcentre.com.

Browne Brings the Love to the Watermark

After graduating with a BFA in Acting from the University of Windsor, Joshua Browne has had the privilege of working with an array of great companies in Toronto and around the country, including IFT Theatre, Circlesnake Theatre, Theatre Gargantua, Shakespeare Bash’d, Theatre By the Bay, Hart House Theatre, and many more.

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His paternal grandmother was born and raised in Charlottetown and he’s thrilled to be headed to PEI and the Watermark Theatre for the first time to do what he loves to do.

Recent credits include: Mercutio/Laertes/Macduff/Sir Toby for The Classical Theatre Project, Tybalt for Theatre By The Bay, Dark Matter (Circlesnake Theatre), Avaricious (Theatre Gargantua), nightmareDREAM (IFT/Obsidian), and the hit world-premiere of Byhalia, Mississippi (cue6 Theatre).

Rising Star Lights Up the Mack

An evocative and powerful performer, Kim Wempe has earned an ECMA for Rising Star of the Year in 2015 as well as multiple nominations for Female Artist of the Year. From Canada to the U.S. to Australia, the smoky-voiced crooner has performed with Jill Barber, Sam Roberts, Matt Andersen, Rose Cousins, Tim Chaisson, and more.

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Says Jill Barber, “Kim Wempe sings directly from the soul and the result is incredibly powerful. She instantly draws you in with her voice, and holds you there with the strength of her performance and her songs.”

Kim Wempe is at The Mack on Saturday, April 23.