It’s School Again! for Aaron Hastelow. The Islander will return to The Charlottetown Festival this summer for his second stint as Avonlea sweetheart, Gilbert Blythe.
Last year Hastelow made history, becoming the first native Islander to play the romantic lead since Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ came to life in 1965. This summer he’ll do so opposite a new Anne in AJ Bridel, a new director in Adam Brazier, and as part of a completely redesigned show.
The new look and feel for Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ is being led by Brazier, artistic director at The Charlottetown Festival, alongside Musical Director Bob Foster, and Set and Costume Designer Cory Sincennes (Evangeline, Mamma Mia)
“I couldn’t be more excited,” remarked Hastelow. “When I heard that Cory was redesigning the sets and costumes I was over the moon. He’s one of Canada’s finest and I cannot wait to see him put his mark on the show.”
“AJ Bridel is going to be phenomenal as Anne,” he continues. “She’s a good friend and I can’t wait to get into rehearsals and start teasing her.”
Hastelow has spent several summers at the Centre, including roles in Mamma Mia!, Ring of Fire, and with the Young Company. He is currently performing in another staging of Mamma Mia! at Theatre Aquarius.
Known as a gifted singer of many styles of music, Hastelow is also set to release his debut album this summer, created at the Sound Mill Recording Studio. The self-titled EP will be available at The Showcase Gift Shop at the Centre and even includes an acoustic arrangement of Gilbert’s signature tune from Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™, ‘Wond’rin’,
For his part Hastelow is thrilled for everything that awaits in the golden summer ahead. “There’s nowhere better to be in summertime than P.E.I. — it’s home. It just means the world to me, and I can’t wait.”
Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ opens on Canada Day, July 1, sponsored by ReMax Charlottetown. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2017 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, CTV, and The Guardian.
You were amazed by their stellar performances this summer as actors, dancers, and musicians in Spoon River, Mamma Mia!, Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™, Glenda’s Kitchen, and the Centre’s youth troupes. Now, The Charlottetown Festival Company and Confederation Centre staff invite you for a fun-filled night of music, laughter, and fellowship — the 40th Annual Maud Whitmore Benefit Concert
This Sunday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Homburg Theatre, the staff, cast, and crew will volunteer their talents to raise money from ticket sales for the Maud Whitmore Scholarship Fund. These scholarships assist selected performers, designers, musicians – both emerging and established – in achieving proposed professional goals, such as new artistic training or workshops.
The show will be hosted by beloved Festival veteran, Glenda Landry, who played in countless Festival productions and for many years played the role of Diana Barry. Some of the performances slated this year (no Anne™ pun intended) include P.E.I.’s Aaron Hastelow singing a medley of Fleetwood Mack tunes, Susan Henley (Spoon River) delivering her rendition of ‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell, the Confederation Players and the Confederation Brass coming together for a short selection of Victorian standards, Mamma Mia! and Anne™ company member, Josh Doig performing his own choreography to an Alanis Morissette song, and much more.
Tickets for the 40th annual Maud Whitmore Benefit Concert cost $20 and are available at the Confederation Centre Box Office at 1(800) 565-0278 or at charlottetownfestival.com.
Last year, the Roddy Diamond Scholarship for a focus in technical theatre or stage management was awarded to Seren Lannon, company manager for the Young Company in 2015 and 2016. “Through winning the Maude Scholarship,” says Lannon, “I was able to spend a weekend in NYC receiving training from top-notch Broadway Stage Managers, and learn first-hand what it would be like to work at the Gershwin Theatre. It was an experience that was invaluable from a career perspective. Had I not won the scholarship, I would never have been able to afford to go, and I could not be more grateful.”
The concert is named after the late Maud Whitmore, a veteran Canadian actor, who endeared herself to audiences from 1965-1977 at the Festival in Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™. Her years of commanding performances inspired many to enter into careers in the musical theatre industry.
The curtain lifted last night at 7:30 p.m. on an especially Island-strong edition of the long-running musical Anne of Green Gables. Jessica Gallant of Ten Mile House, P.E.I. stars as the world-famous orphan, with Charlottetown’s Hank Stinson and Aaron Hastelow as Matthew Cuthbert and Gilbert Blythe. This marks the first time an Islander has played Gilbert in the historic production, and thus the first time both romantic leads have been played by locals.
Festival veteran Marlane O’Brien, of Crapaud, P.E.I. plays iconic busy-body, Miss Rachel Lynde, while Dora Award-winner Charlotte Moore reprises her turn as Marilla Cuthbert. New Island home-owner Katie Kerr returns to the role that first brought her to the Festival, as Diana Barry, and another Festival favourite and ‘Islander-by-choice’, Josée Boudreau debuts as Miss Stacey.
The creative team that brought the Guinness Record-holding musical to life last season has returned in 2016, with Wade Lynch in the director’s chair alongside Musical Director Bob Foster and Choreographer Robin Calvert.
“With a history that has enjoyed success under some of the country’s greatest directors, and that has benefited from the talents of legions of actors, musicians, designers, technicians, and theatre artisans of every stripe, it is no small task to approach a new season with the responsibility of maintaining the high standards of previous productions while attempting to bring something new to the play and the story,” says Lynch, who performed in many seasons of the beloved musical himself.
“That said, we must never treat our production as an antique; Anne is new every time the curtain goes up,” he continues. “When Anne Shirley arrives at Bright River she is not only encountering the possibility of a new family, she is entering a whole new world. As theatre artists it is our challenge and our responsibility to present a musical theatre experience that is new for every performance. With the tremendous talents and abilities of our 2016 company, you can be certain that the Anne of Green Gables experience our audiences enjoy this summer is brand spanking new!”
Anne of Green Gables plays select dates until August 27. Confederation Centre wishes to recognize CIBC as the returning title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival. The Centre also acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.
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.
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.