Tag Archives: Adam Brazier

CIBC Confed Centre Presents

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The Confederation Centre of the Arts is very pleased to announce two special live performance programs coming soon to Downtown Charlottetown.

 

The first is an open-air concert series taking root in the Centre’s outdoor amphitheatre—the venue known to most as the regular home for the TD Young Company. For this new series, entitled Set in the Sun, a different Island songwriter or instrumental duo will perform a live concert on site, every Wednesday and Saturday at 5 p.m.

Presented by program sponsor Honibe, Set in the Sun is part of a slate of programming being unrolled this summer under the banner, CIBC Confed Centre Presents. Another major announcement will be coming later this month around a digital series.

Set in the Sun is a 12-part live series that highlights a thrilling cross-section of local talent, ranging from fiddle music to classical, to folk, rock, and hip-hop. Seating will be limited to 40 people per concert, with parties of up to four staggered safely throughout the venue.

“The Centre team has been thrilled to reopen to the public over the past month, and now we invite our patrons to enjoy live music with us in a safe and relaxed setting,” shares Adam Brazier, artistic director. “This diverse series presents some of finest emerging and established songwriters from across the Island.”

The July 22 concert will feature Island troubadour Scott Parsons, followed by modern traditional music group Inn Echo on July 25. In August, patrons can enjoy concerts from rising-star hip-hop performer Vince the Messenger, songwriter Rachel Beck, and more. Set in the Sun is programmed by Darcy Campbell, director of LIVE @ the Centre.

Tickets for the Scott Parsons and Inn Echo concerts are available now, online at confederationcentre.com, or by calling the box office at 902.566.1267 or toll-free 1.800.565.0278, Monday to Friday 9-5 p.m. Concerts are offered free-of-charge; however, a ticket is required to reserve a patron’s space. Patrons can book a max of four tickets per show.

Performance dates and ticketing will be made available each Wednesday throughout the series, revealing the performers’ names for the following week’s two concerts and allowing patrons to book their seats.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Charlottetown Festival 2020 is Cancelled

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For the first time in its 55-year history, The Charlottetown Festival will not entertain audiences from around the world this summer. Confederation Centre of the Arts CEO Steve Bellamy announced today the cancellation of the Festival along with changes to visual arts and heritage programming at the Centre in 2020.

“Our province has responded admirably to this unprecedented challenge, and we are grateful for the leadership they have shown to keep Islanders and visitors safe. Unfortunately, with the necessary restrictions on large gatherings and the need for social distancing remaining in place for some time, our ability is limited, not only to host audiences, but to prepare with rehearsals and construction in the months ahead of our performances”, says Bellamy.

He continues, “We are truly saddened not to be able to share in the joy of live theatre together this season and I want to express to all of our members, partners, patrons, and artists that we cannot wait to celebrate the arts as a community again when the time is right.”

Sponsored by CIBC, the Festival was slated to run from June 3 to September 26, featuring four major productions as well as the long-standing TD Confederation Centre Young Company. This marks the first time since 1965 that the Festival, and its flagship production Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™, will not be staged.

“With respect to the legacy of our crown jewel musical, we recognize the added weight of not being able to present the 56th season of this incredible production,” offers Artistic Director Adam Brazier. “Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ is a rite of passage for thousands of Islanders and visitors every year. While it is upsetting to put this legacy on hold, this is the right thing to do for the safety of all involved. Anne’s spirit, humour, and optimism are so deeply ingrained in our culture that whether she is on stage or not, her legacy lives on. Our patrons can be assured that Anne will be here in 2021.”

For those currently holding tickets please fill out the online form<https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FestivalRefunds> for ticketing options. The Centre team is dealing with a high volume of bookings and greatly appreciates the patience and support of patrons in this process.

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG) summer season is also being impacted, with major exhibitions A Life’s Work: Canadian Artist Robert Harris 1849-1919 and BGL: Two Thumbs Up Arts and Crafts being delayed to 2021 due to the pandemic. A revised schedule will be announced in the weeks ahead, offering alternative programming for when the Gallery reopens.

“We are looking forward to a time when we can once again welcome the community into the Art Gallery,” says Gallery Director Kevin Rice, “and in the meantime, we are continuing to work on future exhibitions and connect to our patrons through virtual projects.”

The CCAG is currently participating in FIELD TRIP<https://www.fieldtrip.art/field-trips/the-gallery-at-rest-a-tour-of-the-temporarily-darkened-confederation-centre-art-gallerynbsp>, an online national visual arts initiative, alongside more than 25 other Canadian galleries and museums, and also offering ‘Art Class from Home’ visual art activities, found here<https://confederationcentre.com/art-class-from-home/> on the Centre’s website.

In the weeks ahead, an announcement will also be made outlining summer presentations of the Confederation Players guided walking tours and the Confederation Chamber replica exhibition. The Centre is exploring options for presenting these celebrated heritage programs.

The Centre team continues to monitor the pandemic situation day-to-day and is accessing the potential for additional programming this summer. Please continue to visit the website<http://www.confederationcentre.com/> and social media for up-to-date information.

The Centre complex itself remains closed to the public based on guidance from Public Health, but many staff are working from home and are available via email and phone.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Hamlet All Around the Musical

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Longtime Centre member, Grant Honeyman, recently told us this full-circle story about his parallel journey with ‘Kronborg: The Hamlet Rock Musical,’ and we had to share.

“I was an usher at the Centre in 1974 when ‘Kronborg’ opened. I was the front of house manager in 1975 when they were in rehearsals for Broadway (and I sat in the back a lot of mornings and afternoons watching those rehearsals).

Then came Adam [Brazier]’s brilliant concert revival at Indian River in 2017 with Mary Francis [Moore] directing, and Craig Fair’s splendid reorchestrations. I got to speak to Cliff Jones for the first time in more than 40 years. And see so many of the people who were involved with the show in 74-75. My partner Stephen (not really a musical fan) was totally enraptured with it. Then I managed to get two tickets for the restaging during the Theatre Conference a few days later in the Homburg Theatre.

Last Festival season [when Kronborg took the Centre’s Mainstage for a three-week run], Stephen took in the show five times. It was six for me. Loved the reworking of it, the updated and improved music, the simplicity of the set and costumes, Mary Francis’ excellent direction and the outstanding performances of the cast.

When I woke up [on February 10th], Stephen said to me ”you know ‘Hamlet – The Rock Musical’ opens next week in Los Angeles.”

Soooo…Los Angeles seemed the (il)logical(?) thing to do. So off we went!”

Grant sent us these wonderful photos from their trip to LA’s El Portal Theatre last month for the 3rd evening of Hamlet – The Rock Musical’s week-long run. Truly full-circle!

Thank you, Grant & Stephen!

🎭⚔️KRONBORG HISTORY⚔️🎭

Created by Cliff Jones, Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical first debuted at The Charlottetown Festival in 1974. The rock musical went on to take the nation by storm in the 1970’s and later became the first Canadian musical to play on Broadway; with a month-long engagement as ‘Rockabye Hamlet’ (1976), and later a 14-month run in L.A. in the early ‘80s as ‘Something’s Rockin in Denmark.’

Kronborg was given a new lease on life in 2017, when it was turned into a sold-out concert performance at the Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River, P.E.I.

In 2019, 45 years since it was first produced, Kronborg returned for a Mainstage run at Confederation Centre, reimagined and reorchestrated by Director Mary Francis Moore and Musical Director Craig Fair.

Following this run, David Carver Music acquired the world-wide touring rights to the acclaimed musical, with plans to bring it to stages throughout Canada, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Raising Up Rita

Full Cast Announced For ‘DEAR RITA’ at The Charlottetown Festival

World premiere will feature six actor-musicians channeling Rita MacNeil’s songs and spirit

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Tickets are ‘flying on their own’ for this summer’s new cabaret production,Dear Rita, playing June 25 to September 25 at The Charlottetown Festival. Sponsored by Key Murray Law, Dear Rita is a musical toast to Canadian icon and songwriter Rita MacNeil that celebrates the life, tenacity, and musical legacy of the late singer.

This week, the company and creative team are gathering together for the first time to workshop the new musical. Artistic Director Adam Brazier is pleased to reveal the full cast, including Islanders Mike Ross and Michelle Bouey; Alana Bridgewater; Quinn Dooley; and Sheldon Elter. All five are veterans of the Festival, known to patrons for a wealth of beloved shows.

This marks Ross’ first time performing at the Festival in over a decade. A Charlottetown native, he is a leading force as a performer and composer in Canada. The founding director of music at Soulpepper Theatre Company, his musical, Spoon River was a critic’s pick in the New York Times. He was an international fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and also composes for the screen, having written the theme song for CBC’s Kim’s Convenience.

Dooley and Bouey’s repertory casting were both announced earlier this winter. Dooley recently appeared in the Grand’s Ring of Fire and performed in 2015’s Evangeline. Bouey recently performed in ROSE at Soulpepper and is an alumna of the TD Confederation Centre Young Company.

“It’s the kind of theatre that gives you more of a chance to connect with your audience,” she offers during a break from the workshop in Toronto. “I grew up listening to Rita McNeil and watching her Christmas TV specials. To think that a small group of us get to honour her legacy on East Coast soil is so special”

Sheldon Elter is a versatile actor, writer, musician, and comic, known nationally for his one man show, Metis Mutt, which he performed at the Festival in 2018. He also performed there inEvangeline and Stories from the Red-Dirt Road. His TV acting and writing credits include CAUTION: May Contain Nuts, Hank Williams’ First Nation, Delmer & Marta, and Hell on Wheels.

Alana Bridgewater has appeared at the Festival in Spoon River, Hairspray, and the Christmas panto Robyn Hood. An experienced professional, she has performed throughout North America with Soulpepper, Mirvish, and The Grand; live on live with Johnny Reid and others; and in TV and film.

Confederation Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Experience it all, this summer at The Charlottetown Festival, sponsored by CIBC. Dear Rita is developed in association with the Savoy Theatre in Cape Breton, and will play there from October 1-4, following its run on P.E.I.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

It’s Islander Day!

Happy Islander Day! Charlottetown Festival Announces ‘Anne’ Casting & Two-Day Sale

Laurie Murdoch, Marlane O’Brien, Connor Lucas, and Quinn Dooley all joining Avonlea

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It’s a provincial holiday on P.E.I. today and to celebrate, Confederation Centre of the Arts is offering a special ‘Islander Day’ sale for Charlottetown Festival tickets. Artistic Director Adam Brazier has also announced the casting of four of the lead roles in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™.

The Islander Day sale is for two days only, February 17 and 18, and offers ‘Islander pricing’ on the two mainstage productions, Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™ and The Drowsy Chaperone! Patrons can use promo code ‘Islander35’ to get 35% off tickets for the two productions at the 2020 Festival. The code can be used by phone at 1-800.565-0278, online, or in person at the box office.

Earlier this winter, Emma Rudy was announced as returning to the title role in Anne™ and now four more leads have been revealed. Returning as Anne’s academic rival and would-be beau, Gilbert Blythe, is Connor Lucas. Anne’s guardians, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, will be played by Laurie Murdoch and Marlane O’Brien, and joining as kindred spirit Diana Barry is Quinn Dooley.

The pride of Comox Valley, B.C., Lucas will also perform this season in the hilarious Jazz-age musical, The Drowsy Chaperone as loyal best man George. He returns to the Festival following roles in A Misfortune, Stories from the Red Dirt Road, and the Young Company, and recently starred as the title character in the acclaimed Pinocchio (Young People’s Theatre).

Lucas is grateful to share the stage with Emma Rudy once again. “To me, Anne Shirley’s spirit is one bursting with fiery passion, but also gentle kindness, and above all, boundless imagination,” he shares. “Emma encompasses all those traits and dives into the role with a fervour befitting Anne herself!”

Dooley last appeared at the Festival in 2015 in the critically-acclaimed remount of Evangeline. She recently performed in Ring of Fire with the Citadel Theatre, Once with The Grand and RMTC, and Mamma Mia! for the Capitol Theatre.

“I am so excited to be back on the Island working with the wonderful cast and creative team of Anne,” remarks the Edmonton native. “I’ve always wanted to play Diana and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring her to life for Festival audiences this summer.”

Playing Matthew Cuthbert is celebrated screen and stage actor, Laurie Murdoch. Originally from Whalley, B.C., Murdoch played the conflicted Colonel Winslow inEvangeline and was part of the Dora-winning cast of Once with Mirvish. He has appeared on screen in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight and on hit TV series Murdoch Mysteries, Rookie Blue, Dan for Mayor, and Warehouse 13.

P.E.I.’s own Marlane O’Brien returns to Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™ as Marilla, having memorably played the role on an emergency basis in 2019, and has played Marilla, Rachel Lynde, Lucilla, and other ladies of Avonlea to date. A long-time Festival favourite, O’Brien is known for her turns in A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline and her play, Stories From the Red Dirt Road (Charlottetown); and Calendar Girls and Annie with Neptune, among others.

The title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival is CIBC. Sponsored by CAA Atlantic, Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™ plays the Homburg Theatre from June 3 through September 26, 2020. This 2020 staging is led by Brazier, Music Director Bob Foster; Choreographer Robin Calvert; Costume & Scenic Designer Cory Sincennes; Lighting Designer Michael Walton; and Sound Designer Peter McBoyle.

Confederation Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

On Track to Festival 2020

Select Casting and 50% Off Sale Announced for Charlottetown Festival 2020

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Confederation Centre offering half-priced tickets from now until December 3

Artistic Director Adam Brazier has revealed select casting for The 2020 Charlottetown Festival, including the leads for Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ and The Drowsy Chaperone.

Brazier also announced details on the biggest Festival sale of the year. From now until December 3, patrons can purchase tickets for all four summer theatre productions at 50% off. Tickets can be accessed online, by phone at 1 (902) 566-1267, toll free at 1 (800) 565-0278, or at the box office. The sale is offered for select dates and is based on availability. Members of Confederation Centre were given advance access to this sale as of November 18. For show descriptions, see addendum.

Returning as the precocious orphan who changed the Island forever is Emma Rudy, who dazzled audiences last summer. The Buzz dubbed Rudy “the Festival’s best Anne in ages”, raving about her soaring voice, sharp comic sensibility, and well-timed intensity. The Stratford, Ontario native will be back starring in the Homburg Theatre as of June 3, as the 2020 festival begins previews earlier than usual.

“It is such an honour to bring this complex and vivacious redhead back to life through new eyes,” glows Rudy. “I can’t wait to come back.”

Opening June 30 is five-time Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. This is the funniest musical written in the past 25 years,” states Brazier. “This show will leave our audiences happy, giddy, and sore from laughter.”

The Drowsy Chaperone will mark the return of Festival favourite Réjean Cournoyer. The Nova Scotia native had major roles here in Evangeline, A Misfortune, and Mamma Mia!, and nationally with Mirvish, Elgin, the Citadel Theatre, and Theatre Calgary. Cournoyer will star as ‘Man in Chair’, a witty theatre aficionado who mourns the end of the Golden Era, narrating the entire musical comedy while listening to its record on vinyl.

Also joining The Drowsy Chaperone in the title role is Island native Catherine O’Brien, returning to the Centre after several years with other Island theatres including in Fascinating Ladies, Young At Heart, and the Victoria Playhouse. O’Brien has performed with The Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage, and Manitoba Theatre Centre. Her previous credits with the Festival include Hairspray, Anne™, and The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom.

Over at The Mack, Islander Michele Bouey will make her Festival debut, performing in the musical love-letter to icon, Rita MacNeil, Dear Rita. Bouey will pay homage to MacNeil as member of a six person ensemble, similar in form to the Festival’s Atlantic Blue in 2019.

A Young Company alumna, Bouey has performed coast-to-coast, including with Soulpepper, Panasonic, and Drayton. She also writes and records her own music, with singles out now on Spotify and Apple Music.

As the Festival is repertory, each of the announced performers will also appear in other productions next summer, to be detailed at a later date.

The Festival’s 50% off sale also applies to the 2020 new production Bed and Breakfast, playing July 11 to September 26 at The Mack.

Special thanks are extended to Festival title sponsor, CIBC, and to Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ sponsor CAA Atlantic. Confederation Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

 

Lifting the Curtain

Confederation Centre Lifts the Curtain on The 2020 Charlottetown Festival

The Drowsy Chaperone brings major musical comedy to the Homburg; Dear Rita to make world premiere at The Mack; Anne™ returns for season 56

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An uproarious homage to Jazz Age musicals. A fiery redhead. An icon of East Coast anthems. A madcap comedy about being out in rural Canada. Have we got a story for you!

Artistic Director Adam Brazier has revealed the playbill for The 2020 Charlottetown Festival, sponsored by CIBC. Featuring five productions across the Centre’s three stages, P.E.I.’s original summer festival offers a wealth of Canadian theatre experiences.

Tickets for all productions will be on sale as of September 18, 2019 and can be purchased through the box office at 1 (902) 566-1267; toll free at 1 (800) 565-0278; in person at the counter; or by visiting confederationcentre.com

“For many years, I’ve been itching to do a large scale musical comedy—a show that not only has great music but also some brilliant tap dancing and hilarious comedic characters,” offers Brazier. “The Drowsy Chaperone is exactly that show. I believe this is the funniest musical written in the past 25 years and it just so happens to be Canadian. This production will leave our audience happy, giddy, and sore from laughter.”

The five-time Tony Award-winning musical comedy follows the tale of a glamourous celebrity bride and her impending wedding. Hailed as “the perfect Broadway musical” this clever parody will sweep audiences away with show-stopping song and dance numbers. The cast is complete with a tap-dancing groom, bumbling best man, wise-cracking butler, desperate producer, misguided Don Juan, two goofy gangsters in disguise, and a tipsy chaperone! The Drowsy Chaperone plays the Homburg Theatre June 30 to September 26, 2020.

Making its world premiere at The Mack in 2020 is an intimate and inspiring new production celebrating the life and songs of the Maritimes’ most beloved singer-songwriter, Rita MacNeil. Developed closely with the family of the late singer herself, Dear Rita is a musical love-letter to a true fixture of Canadian culture, a soft-spoken and passionate performer whose songs were international hits, inspiring people around the world.

Woven around a script from the Island’s own Mike Ross and Lindsay Kyte, this cabaret musical will feature a cast of five and play June 25 through September 25 in the cabaret theatre. “Rita MacNeil’s contribution to Atlantic Canada is immeasurable. Her songs have inspired generations of Canadians and we are excited to share stories of her life and the iconic music she created,” says Brazier.

Also playing at The Mack from July 11 through September 26 is a heartwarming new Canadian comedy, Bed & Breakfast, dubbed “a doozy worth of Fawlty Towers” by the Toronto Star.

“This is a hilarious show that offers two tour-de-force performances,” explains Brazier. “Two actors play an entire rural community, switching from character to character at a break-neck speed.”

With more than a few unexpected and hilarious plot-twists, we follow big city boys Brett and Drew over the course of one year as they endeavour to run a rural B & B. We see them struggle from renovation hell to their farcical opening weekend, and encounters with small-town prejudice—all the way to their big decision: do they stay here or do they pack it all in? “This charming and heartfelt comedy is a perfect fit for our island,” adds Brazier, “it’s funny, relatable, topical, and very entertaining.”

The Festival’s crown jewel Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™will return for its 56thconsecutive season next summer, a testament to enduring story of an orphan girl who came from away and changed the Island forever. Sponsored by CAA, Anne™ returns to Confederation Centre a bit earlier than usual next year, beginning previews on June 3, and showing through September 26.

The full-scale classic is a humorous, touching, and truly athletic musical that will inspire your imagination, tickle your funny bone, and mesmerize you with both graceful and exhilarating singing and dancing. New set and costume designs will be added in 2020, completing a three-year reimagining of the production led by designer Cory Sincennes. Sponsored by CAA, Anne™ returns to Confederation Centre a bit earlier than usual next year, beginning previews on June 3, and showing through September 26.

Further announcements will be made in the months ahead regarding casting, as well as a new 2020 production for the Confederation Centre Young Company.

Confederation Centre wishes to acknowledge the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

New Mama Steps Up

Artistic Director Adam Brazier has announced a casting change for the forthcoming production of Mamma Mia! at The Charlottetown Festival.

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Opening this Friday August 9, Mamma Mia! is sponsored by Tim Horton’s and plays until September 28 at Confederation Centre of the Arts. The high-spirited musical stars Rebecca Poff as single mother Donna and Katie Kerr as her only child, Sophie, who is also the bride-to-be in this sunny ABBA-driven tale. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best friends–practical and no-nonsense Rosie, and wealthy, multi-divorcée Tanya–from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos.

Rosie is played by Festival favourite Nicola-Dawn Brook and stepping into the role of Tanya is Sara-Jeanne Hosie. The pride of Victoria, B.C., Hosie made her Festival debut earlier this summer in the much-acclaimed remount ofKronborg-The Hamlet Rock Musical and also as Miss Stacey in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™.

Hosie steps in for the Festival’s Susan Henley who had to withdraw due to injury. “This is my first time performing in Mamma Mia!” she offers, during a break in rehearsals. “I admire Susan Henley so much and am honoured to step into her sequins and stilettos.”

The actor has spent the last 25 years performing nationally in such roles as Mary in Mary Poppins; the Villain in the acclaimed Ross Petty Panto; to Alison Bechdel in the Canadian premiere of Fun Home. Also an accomplished director and choreographer, Hosie was nominated for a 2019 Dora Mavor Moore award for her choreography in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Eclipse).

Hosie comes by her Charlottetown Festival connection honestly, as both of her parents performed here, including appearances in the original Kronborg and as Matthew in Anne™ for her father, Bill Hosie.

“It was a childhood dream of mine to perform here,” Hosie recalls. “I remember being in the audience as a child, and now I get to smile at my parents in photos backstage every day.” 

Opening this Friday August 9, Mamma Mia! is sponsored by Tim Horton’s and plays until September 28 at Confederation Centre of the Arts. The high-spirited musical stars Rebecca Poff as single mother Donna and Katie Kerr as her only child, Sophie, who is also the bride-to-be in this sunny ABBA-driven tale. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best friends–practical and no-nonsense Rosie, and wealthy, multi-divorcée Tanya–from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos.

Rosie is played by Festival favourite Nicola-Dawn Brook and stepping into the role of Tanya is Sara-Jeanne Hosie. The pride of Victoria, B.C., Hosie made her Festival debut earlier this summer in the much-acclaimed remount ofKronborg-The Hamlet Rock Musical and also as Miss Stacey in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™.

Hosie steps in for the Festival’s Susan Henley who had to withdraw due to injury. “This is my first time performing in Mamma Mia!” she offers, during a break in rehearsals. “I admire Susan Henley so much and am honoured to step into her sequins and stilettos.”

The actor has spent the last 25 years performing nationally in such roles as Mary in Mary Poppins; the Villain in the acclaimed Ross Petty Panto; to Alison Bechdel in the Canadian premiere of Fun Home. Also an accomplished director and choreographer, Hosie was nominated for a 2019 Dora Mavor Moore award for her choreography in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Eclipse).

Hosie comes by her Charlottetown Festival connection honestly, as both of her parents performed here, including appearances in the original Kronborg and as Matthew in Anne™ for her father, Bill Hosie.

“It was a childhood dream of mine to perform here,” Hosie recalls. “I remember being in the audience as a child, and now I get to smile at my parents in photos backstage every day.”

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

 

Rock the Castle

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There isn’t anything to be or not to be about “Kronborg – The Hamlet Rock Musical” as it kicks off the 55th season at The Charlottetown Festival on Prince Edward Island. It’s all about being, being in front and making it happen. There’s nothing indecisive about Hamlet. He’s got Claudius in his crosshairs nearly from the get-go.

Lawrence Olivier, who directed and starred in an acclaimed movie adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in 1948, said it is “the story of a man who cannot make up his mind.” The Hamlet of “Kronborg” doesn’t have that problem. His world has been rocked. He has got to make up his mind.

Hamlet’s first song “That It Should Come To This” – sung by Island-born Aaron Hastelow, in a grim dazzling performance of a determined rather than irresolute prince – is performed right after the Ghost King has made himself known to Marcellus and Horatio, and Claudius and Gertrude have made themselves known to Hamlet. He soon has a good idea of the double-dealing he doesn’t know everything about, yet. From that moment on it is hands on the wheel.

The singing is brisk and strong throughout, from the leads to the ensemble. Peter McBoyle, the show’s sound designer, has worked on several musicals at the Confederation Centre, including “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The orchestra, led by Craig Fair, leading the way, gets it done down in the pit, always there as the story unfolds.

Aaron Hastelow gets it done up top up front as Hamlet.

“From seeing a ten-minute segment of the piece in a review show when I was 13-years-old, to now, it’s surreal,” said Aaron⁣. “I need to acknowledge the tireless work of Craig Fair, giving us all this chance, and Cliff Jones for writing some of the most beautiful and memorable melodies. After 45 years, it’s time to share this show with audiences once again. Let’s rock!”

The show starts off with a bang, at the end of the story, as the last of all the main characters, save Horatio, fall down dead, and a black-clad dance troupe of post-modern Greek Furies peck at the fallen, pecking out the vengeance of the Ghost King, Hamlet’s father

“To be or not to be” is never spoken. “Let it be” by The Beatles is invoked. There will be blood is what is on everybody’s lips.

Lawrence Olivier once also said, “Lead the audience by the nose to the thought.” It’s an unfortunate phrase. Who wants to be led by the nose to anything? It’s far better to smell it out for yourself.

“Kronborg” propels the audience headlong to its windswept thought on passages of brisk music and stirring song and able-bodied dance and crafty staging, the twisting plot turning high and low. There are barely two lines of dialogue strung together to transition the songs. It is in some senses like an opera, incorporating all the elements of spoken theater, but sung instead of spoken.

It’s unlike an opera, however, since every word can be understood, it never stands still for long to show off a singer, the songs being embedded in the story, and it is exciting as hell from beginning to end. It bursts with energy.

“It’s a story of family, power, revenge, and sacrifice,” said Adam Brazier, artistic director at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, where the show was resurrected on their main stage, the Homburg Theatre, playing in repertory alongside both “Anne of Green Gables” and “Mamma Mia!”

It is by far the darker, and arguably the more galvanizing, show in town. There’s something both rockin’ and rotten in Denmark.  It’s been said about rock ‘n’ roll that the devil has all the best tunes and the devil is not going anywhere. It’s also been said that shake rattle and roll and three chords are where the truth is. Whatever the truth is, the show is masterminded, exact and sparkling, never slack, always on the go.

Only the Ghost King takes his time.

The set by scenic designer Brian Smith is German Expressionist, a kind of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari castle, ramparts, a ramp and movable stairs, and arched entranceways. A forest as bleak as prison bars is lowered several times, the trees jagged and menacing, no escape. The rest of the set is minimalist, from the overhead part medieval part modernist chandelier to Gertrude’s dressing room, more suggestion and more effective because of the suggestion.

Nothing in the background gets in the way of the song and dance and narrative in the foreground.

When Honeybelle – Nicola-Dawn Brook in a red beret and man the barricades – and the players of the play within the play belt out the gospel inspired “He Got It In the Ear,” the fulcrum on which the plot rests tilts and everything becomes the gospel truth.

Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and Ophelia pour their hearts out in “I Cannot Turn to Love” at the end of Act One. It ends suddenly. The stage goes dark.

You can’t wait for intermission to be over.

The musical was conceived and written in the early 1970s by Cliff Jones, He wrote it while working on the children’s TV show “Mr. Dressup.” A Toronto composer and lyricist, his original “Hamlet: The Musical” has been reprised several times. It played on Broadway in 1976 as “Rockabye Hamlet,” starring the rock star Meat Loaf.

It came back to PEI in concert form in 2017 in at the Indian River Festival. Cliff Jones was in the audience. Following the production at St. Mary’s Church, another concert was performed at the Confederation Centre. Shortly after that the wheels were set in motion to stage the show again.

“It’s back where it began and where, in my mind, it’s always belonged,” Cliff Jones said about the production at the Charlottetown Festival.

“When people on the Island found out that Craig Fair and I were working on “Kronborg” they all had their own story,” said Mary Francis Moore, directing the show.  “Who brought them to the show in 1974? What seat they were sitting in when they heard Cliff’s score. What it was like to work on the first Canadian show to ever make it to Broadway.”

The musical is more than just a piece of the Charlottetown Festival’s history.

“We recognize the significance the piece plays. We have dusted off the pages to create a re-envisioned production that has been fully re-orchestrated and re-arranged – new life breathed into this Canadian classic.”

The composer sat in on some of the rehearsals. “I saw what they were doing with this incredible company and with Craig Fair’s new arrangement and musical direction,” said Cliff Jones. “I’m thrilled. It’s been framing my life for the last 45 years. It’s renewed me.

“The show has always carried a special combination of being a fun, entertaining experience, but also being faithful to Shakespeare’s story.”

Kronborg is a 1400s stronghold castle in Helsingor, Denmark, that became Elsinore in Shakespeare’s late 1500s tragedy in five acts. “Kronborg – The Hamlet Rock Musical” is in two acts. Not a moment is wasted, but all the key moments are there, from the Ghost King to setting the scene of Gertrude and Claudius’s marriage, Claudius getting suspicious and Hamlet’s turmoil, the king’s plotting and the play within the play, Hamlet inadvertently killing Polonius, the banishment and the tragic climax.

There is even some ribald fun along the way, especially when a freshly re-imagined Rosencrantz and Guildenstern make their appearance. They aren’t what you expect. They are nimble and treacherous, like street cats on the prowl.

Claudius is on the prowl, too, as Act Two starts, aware of the grave threat that Hamlet presents, and he conspires with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to solve the problem. Gertrude – played by Alana Hibbert – big league but tottering by then, sings the first of her two affecting prophetic solo’s, “Somebody Wrote the Wrong Words,” as fate speeds up.

Laertes and the full company sing “Eye for an Eye” and the die is cast.

It all comes down to Claudius and Hamlet.

Costume designer Jeff Chief doubles the king and his step-son, both men in black, both lean and mean, although Hamlet is largely in wool-like fabric, softening the effect, keeping him on the side of flesh and blood, while Claudius is largely in leather, making him more reptilian. Claudius is Axl Rose meets Johnny Rotten meets villainy most foul.

The costumes are severe, Edwardian mixed with some Mad Max, while the female leads are often more flowing, leaving trails streaking behind them as they cross the stage. Anachronistic pants are used to good effect, especially when the doomed Ophelia jumps into the lap of the standing Hamlet, straddling him, hanging on for dear life.

Cameron MacDuffie, a veteran of the Centre who describes himself as a man who “lives out past where the sidewalk ends,” plays Claudius as a man who doesn’t give a damn about sidewalks. He is self-aware, as most of Shakespeare’s wrongdoers are, and not beneath self-pity, but his self is more selfish and slyly arrogant than it is anything else. He is the king and the kingdom is his person. Beyond him, nothing matters.

It is an astonishing performance.

When Gertrude sings “No Use Pretending,” which might be one of the best songs of the musical, and is certainly the most moving, near the end of Act Two, she is singing for herself, but for everyone else, too. Polonius and Ophelia are dead. The roof is about to cave in on everyone’s heads.

Fight director Anita Nittoly stages the penultimate sword fight between Hamlet and Laertes Robin Hood-style, lithe and desperate. It is thrilling and horrible, knowing there is poison. When the end comes only Horatio is left standing, and joined by the Ghost King in the ramparts, bears witness to what becomes of treachery and revenge.

“Kronborg – The Hamlet Rock Musical” breathes new life into a play more than four hundred years old, and dirty work as old as time. It resonates because it speaks to our own times.

“A nefarious transition of power has taken place in Denmark and the future is uncertain,” says Adam Brazier. “It is a story that is eerily familiar to the current landscape of the world at large.”

Early in Shakespeare’s play, in Act One, Scene 4, Marcellus says, “Something is rotten in Denmark.” The Hamlet of “Kronborg” doesn’t worry about to be or not to be. Something has got to be done. He rocks the castle to get the rot out. He gets it done.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Kronborg Kicks Off the Show

The Curtain Lifts On The 2019 Charlottetown Festival

Confederation Centre of the Arts’ summer festival launches with Kronborg, Anne™, TD Young Company, and more!

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It’s all systems go at Confederation Centre of the Arts as the staff, cast, orchestra, and crew prepare to launch their 55th theatre season of The Charlottetown Festival, sponsored by CIBC.

Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical :  Opening Friday June 28 in the Homburg Theatre and playing until July 20 is the much anticipated Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical, sponsored by SYSCO Food Services. “This is a ghost story, a story of family, power, revenge, and sacrifice,” remarks Adam Brazier, artistic director.

This electrifying staging of Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet was a breakthrough for Confederation Centre when it first premiered here in 1974, later becoming the first Canadian musical to ever play on Broadway. Originally written and conceived by Cliff Jones, the 2019 production promises to entrance a whole new generation of theatre-lovers. This epic rock’n’roll-powered production is directed by Mary Francis Moore with music direction from Craig Fair.

“This new staging has been fully re-orchestrated and re-arranged musically by Craig Fair—new life breathed into a Canadian classic,” offers Moore. “The inspiration for these changes all come from the beautiful lyrics and melodies Cliff wrote 45 years ago.”

See the full creative team in addendum andread full casting online.

The TD Confederation Centre Young Company : The TD Young Company returns this weekend, kicking off their 2019 season on Saturday June 29 at 12 noon in the Centre’s outdoor amphitheatre. Made up of returning members and new faces, the 2019 Young Company hail from all corners of Canada and collectively speak no less than eight languages.

This summer, the troupe presents Aqsarniit, (or, “the Northern Lights” in Inuktitut), Monday to Saturday at 12 noon from until August 17. This provocative and thoughtful musical weaves music and dance through stories of our collective histories from across Turtle Island.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

28660348_162333201093170_735205771249634989_n

PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse