Final Countdown at the Festival

Confederation Centre is proud to present one more week of the touching new musical Belles Soeurs: The Musical — the closing production of a very memorable Charlottetown Festival season. Crackling with electricity and performed by a powerhouse all-female cast, Belles Sœurs plays the Homburg Theatre until Saturday, October 1.

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For a limited time, the Centre is offering 35% off theatre tickets for this heartfelt rags to riches story. To obtain this special discount – for Tier 1 & 2 seating only – patrons should contact the box office, quoting promo code ‘belles35’.

This promo ends on Monday, September 26 and for more information or tickets, visit confederationcentre.com/charlottetownfestival or contact the box office, toll-free, at 1 (800) 565.0278.

In Belles Soeurs: The Musical we meet working-class housewife Germaine Lauzon, played by Canadian treasure and Dora Award-winner Lisa Horner (Little Mosque on the Prairie; Kinky Boots; Wizard of Oz; Les Mis). Germaine wins one million department store stamps – the Jamie Oliver stamps of the 1960’s – and invites her Montreal family and friends over to celebrate. But pride + greed = envy! The women complain aggressively, overshare shamelessly, and fantasize freely while secretly coveting Germaine’s precious stamps.

Richly textured and outrageously fun, Belles Sœurs will sweep you through joy and drama, laughter and tears, all resonating through the medium of the modern musical. Audiences will fall in love with hits such as ‘I Want it All,’ ‘Johnny,’ and the incredible ‘Ode to Bingo,’ leaving them humming for days.

This touching musical is based on Michel Tremblay’s internationally­-celebrated play and is produced by Copa de Oro and the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts. Adapted and directed by René Richard Cyr in collaboration with the award winning duo Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, Tremblay’s tale takes on a whole new dimension in this musical Opening Night Reviews calls: “Hilarious, a landmark piece of theatre…a quiet riot of piety and a cautionary tale of commercialism.”

The Charlottetown Festival is presented by CIBC. Confederation Centre wishes to recognize 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.

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Last Call, Last Call…

Last Call for Three Summer Exhibitions at CCAG

With ‘Secret Citadel’ closing, Graeme Patterson to lead ArtTalk and Tour Sunday, September 25 at 2 p.m.

It’s closing time for three visual art exhibitions that have been turning heads all summer at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. This month is the last chance to view works from Graeme Patterson, Landon Mackenzie, and Gwen Michaud.

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Showing until September 25 in the Upper and Lower East Galleries, Graeme Patterson: Secret Citadel explores the trials and tribulations of male friendship through a four part sculptural/video installation and an experimental animated narrative. Based in Sackville, New Brunswick, Patterson works in miniatures, using tiny figures in stop-motion to explore much bigger themes and stories. Although based on specific memories of the artist’s past, Secret Citadel draws you into its captivating worlds by highlighting universal themes of love and loss, play and competition, companionship and loneliness.

Patterson will lead an ArtTalk and public tour through his exhibition this Sunday September 25 at 2 p.m. in the Art Gallery. There is no cost to attend and all are welcome to hear this first-hand account of how the touring exhibition came to life from one of Canada’s most exciting young artists.

B.C.’s Landon Mackenzie is a nationally-known Canadian artist, admired for her large-scale works using paint on canvas. Less widely known are her works on paper, which she produces in high numbers as a tandem practice to her larger paintings, often while travelling. Showing in the Upper West Gallery until September 25, Landon Mackenzie: Parallel Journey: Works on Paper (1975-2015) takes the viewer on a journey through the past four decades of Mackenzie’s art production on paper, beginning with a watercolour the artist painted when she was 14 years old, and concluding in the year 2015.

Showing in the Centre’s concourse cases until October 2 is Gwen Fichaud: Arranging the Local. This exhibition provides an overview of the work of Fichaud (1915-1988). Born in Montreal, Fichaud took up painting full time in 1964, a few years after moving to P.E.I, where she became an early supporter of the Centre and chair of the Women’s Committee. She was immediately taken with Island history and the pastoral landscape, and her work ranged from country scenes to studies of flora and fauna, to images of local community. Her work was always focused on carefully arranged details, presenting facts and anecdotes about the Island way of life and its natural setting. The high horizons and ordered compositions of the artist’s images allow a maximum of visual information to be brought together within a single frame.

“The great variety of characters, colours, activities, and incidents in Fichaud’s crowd scenes are tightly organized and brought together into an ordered whole that mirrors her vision of community,” remarks Pan Wendt, gallery curator. “Made by an urban settler impressed by the apparent naturalness and harmony of Island life, these works articulate an ideal rural Prince Edward Island.”

A Quiet Riot

The English musical theatre adaptation of Les Belles-Soeurs, originally written by Michel Tremblay (his landmark piece of theatre, Les Belles-Soeurs, has been performed around the world in more than 25 languages), is a fun show to behold, but could also be a cautionary tale of commercialism and the perils of piety.

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When dreary housewife Germaine Lauzon (Lisa Horner, who is debuting at The Centre this year, having played in Kinky Boots, Wizard of Oz, Les Misérables (Mirvish Productions); Fiddler on the Roof, Good Mother (Stratford), & TV/Film credits for Little Mosque on the Prairie, Road to Avonlea to name a few. Lisa has also received two Dora Awards for her work in Wizard of Oz and Grey Gardens) wins one million customer loyalty stamps worth $100,000 of free catalogue items and is betrayed by her God-fearing friends and relatives during a stamp licking party, one has to wonder what they are really worshipping. Is it God, materialism, or both?

The performance runs rampant with religious overtones. Germaine’s favourite exclamation is: “St. Therese!”, a French saint who wants for everything in her childhood but joined a convent to serve God when she was 15 years old. Germaine hands out the stamps to her friends, almost as if they are a sacrament, to paste to redemption cards. The most notable, and entertaining, example is the Ode to Bingo stop action, slo-mo number, in the second act, which ends in a tableau reminiscent of da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

The play starts off with a bang amidst an invigorating performance of “I Want It All” with an all-female cast of jealous homespun ladies spanning the generational spectrum trickling in, drooling over the prospect of new furniture, reversible dresses, & 4-slice toasters. It takes place in the working class community of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Montreal, in 1965, in the midst of the Quiet Revolution, a time of cultural introspection for Quebec. The time period is after schools are no longer administered through the Catholic Church and before Expo 67, when French president Charles De Gaulle declared “Vive le Quebec Libre!” on the balcony of Montreal city hall.

The word ‘Free’ is a recurring theme in the script. Germaine and her party guests crave things they don’t have to pay for but also wish to be liberated from their dreary lives. They steal their host’s stamps, diminishing their respective portrayals of piety, leaving Germaine to question her own belief system.

The ‘holier than thou’ attitude of the party goers is most evident when Germaine’s sister Pierrette (played by Geneviève Leclerc in her debut at The Centre, having appeared in: Guys & Dolls, Lies My Father Told Me (Segal Centre); Les Misérables (US and Canadian tours), a club hostess and social pariah, makes an appearance at the end of the first act. Everyone seems scandalized and are hesitant to exchange words with her, even if they see her regularly at the club. Germaine’s daughter Linda (played by Elise Cormier, also debuting at The Centre, appearing in Les Misérables(Le Capitole, La Place des Arts) & Little Women (La Bordée) is anxious to speak with Pierrette about her lifestyle and how she was able to escape the drab existence that plagues the other characters.

One of my favorite numbers included a song of jealousy called ”It’s A Dull Life” featuring some unusual, yet surprisingly delightful percussion choices (by Peter Colantonio with pit credit for Belles Soeurs: The Musical (National Arts Centre) including pots, pans, a washboard & even a kazoo! Another song featured the use of a rocking chair & of course, there’s no other way to describe it other than to say It Rocked! Aside from the music & a story that I think a lot of people can relate to (6/49 & Chase the Ace wishlist fantasies have never been hard to come by around here), the use of gossip & perfectly timed passive-aggressive name-calling kept the laughs rolling throughout this kitchen party of a tale that surfs on the cusp of rags to riches.

This show is excellent and will give audience members a lot to talk about. The creative and technical aspects are all very well thought out and executed. The 1960s kitchen and costumes (Costume Designer: Mérédith Caron who has contributed to more than 150 works & is considered a leader in the field of costume design, having worked at the Stratford Festival & Cirque du Soleil: Criss Angel Believe (Las Vegas) & Amaluna since the beginning of her career in 1978) were brilliantly done, along with the second storey balcony where the characters could sing and emote without having to be on the stage proper. Audience members familiar with the story will recognize Pierrette almost immediately.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also recognize Lisa Horner (Germaine) as the Ikea Start the Car lady, from the iconic commercial (which, oddly, has similar themes to this play). In this show, Horner looks more like Jean Stapleton’s Edith Bunker, which is a testament to the skills of the makeup and costume departments. I enjoyed the costumes of Linda most of all. They were bright, fun, and fit the period; and were a stark contrast to the other ladies’ outfits. Germaine’s party dress is also a showstopper.

Any acting troupes looking for a fun musical with 12 strong female roles, an entertaining book and lyrics (Book and lyrics by Director René Richard Cyr & Music by Juno Award winner Daniel Bélanger), should take a look at Belles Soeurs: The Musical.

Belles Soeurs: The Musical runs from September 13th to October 1st, 2016 at the Homburg Theatre.

Review by Kimberly Johnston and PL Holden, Used by permission. Originally posted on http://www.onrpei.ca.

All Sing Along

Music Together at The Guild

September 24, 2016 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Did you know that all children are musical?

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Have you ever wondered what you can do to nurture musical growth in your child?

Experience Music Together® with us and find out how important – and fun – your role can be. Weekly classes for 0-5 year olds and the grownups who love them, give your little ones the musical confidence they will need to enjoy a lifetime of being able to sing, dance and forever make music together!

Boffo Box Office

Watermark Box Office up 31.4% for 2016 Summer Season

Watermark Theatre is thrilled to announce that the individual ticket sales for the recently completed 2016 summer season were up by an astounding 31.4% over last year. Productions of Blithe Spirit and The Glass Menagerie both exceeded expectations with Blithe Spirit reaching maximum capacity most nights of the summer.

Strong attendance for both productions was generated by wonderful word-of-mouth throughout the Island, a successful marketing plan, and exceptional reviews from a number of news sources.

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Review Quotes For The Glass Menagerie

“this production captures the timeless beauty of Williams’ story with crystal clarity.” – The Buzz

“The Glass Menagerie may break your heart into a million tiny pieces lying on the floor of the Watermark Theatre…. great show all around” – ONRPEI.COM

Review Quotes for Blithe Spirit

“‘Blithe Spirit’ best comedy on P.E.I….Come to Watermark Theatre’s production to enjoy fun, fun and more fun” – The Guardian

“(Gracie) Finley was clearly enjoying herself, and so were we—she was flat-out wonderful.” – The Buzz

“If you’re looking for some cerebral comedy with a splash of slapstick, Blithe Spirit is the show for you.” – ONRPEI.COM

Completing his first season as Artistic Director at the Watermark Theatre, Robert Tsonos is thrilled with how the summer played out.

“Audiences really seemed to respond to our programming this year. The season was a great balance of comedy and drama and we were able to maintain the high quality that Island audiences have come to expect from our theatre”.

Programming for Watermark’s 2017, 10th Anniversary Season, will be announced very soon.

Behind the Scenes

A rare treat for Coronation Street fans, Beth and Sinead offer a chance to hear from the newer generation of Corrie Stars who are behind the sewing machines and exciting story lines at the Underworld Factory, showcasing Lisa George who plays Beth Sutherland and Katie McGlynn who plays Sinead Tinker on Britain’s longest-running television drama.

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The Factory Girls provide an insiders peek at the epicentre of gossip. Underworld is always facing fresh strife, deadlines and challenges. Fires, murder and theft are just a few storylines that have had viewers on the edge of their seats. Rarely does a day go smoothly at the knicker factory, and the drama often spills over into the Rovers Return pub at night.

The audience will hear exciting stories in a hosted, interview-style show complete with an audience Q&A segment about the world behind the scenes on Coronation Street’s cobbles. Anecdotes, inside information, and the inside scoop on their “diamond-in-the-rough” co-workers – it’s all there, as Beth and Sinead welcome Canadian fans into their Weatherfield world.

This show promises to be a real eye-opener, even for long-time Coronation Street fans. Think you know Corrie? Prepare to be surprised. The girls assure us to expect the unexpected, as they’ll have audiences in ‘stitches’.

Fans can also gain special access to the gals with a limited number of VIP exclusive packages which wraps best seats in the house with a meet-and- greet reception hosted by Lisa and Katie post show.

Don’t forget to bring your cameras!

The Factory Girls are at the Harbourfront Theatre on Monday, September 26 at 7:30 PM

Shifting the Focus With the Guild and Scotiabank

Our focus is shifting! Celebrate 25 years of community development and outreach with AIDS PEI Community Support Group Inc. through our Scotiabank AIDS Walk Event, SHIFT 25: AIDS PEI.

For this year’s national Scotiabank AIDS Walk, Canadian AIDS Society has given its provincial organizations the creative freedom to come up with innovative projects that can transcend the traditional walk event. AIDS PEI has created a long weekend of fundraising initiatives, that will begin on the 22nd of September, 2016 at the Trailside Café in Mount Stewart, with the melodic dream pop of Emilee Sorrey. Doors and kitchen are open at 6:30 with the show beginning at 8pm.

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On the following Saturday the 24th, we invite all Islanders to clean out their closets in support of AIDS PEI, from 12 – 4pm we will be collecting bags of gently used goods from around the community in partnership with Value Village.

The closing event for Scotiabank AIDS Walk, SHIFT 25: AIDS PEI, will take place at 7pm at The Guild on Sunday the 25th. Featuring Rachel Beck, Dennis Ellsworth, and Tim Chaisson. In the lower level art space, a silent auction will be happening, featuring accommodations in our Island’s charming inns, artisanal wears, locally designed jewelry, and more.

Please join AIDS PEI in not only celebrating how far we’ve come in the last 25 years, but to also enthusiastically meet the coming years with tenacity and community support.