House of Martin Guerre Debuts in Charlottetown

The Confederation Centre of the Arts is bringing the critically-acclaimed and multi-award-winning The House of Martin Guerre toThe Charlottetown Festival this September. This intimate concert presentation, starring Adam Brazier and Josée Boudreau, is based on a true story from 16thcentury France and explores what limits an individual confronts to follow their heart.

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The original book was written by Leslie Arden and Anna Theresa Cascio, and then adapted to music and lyrics by Leslie Arden. The story follows a young peasant girl named Bertrande who is forced to marry the abusive Martin Guerre.  After years of unhappy marriage, he abandons her and their son; but years later a stranger returns claiming to be Martin Guerre. He is a transformed individual and Bertrande accepts this person, but then she declares him an imposter and he is sent to jail and trial.

“Making its Atlantic Canadian debut, The House of Martin Guerreis a powerful musical about community, tradition, and what we’re willing to believe for love,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director of The Charlottetown Festival and starring in this musical.

It is one of the most celebrated Canadian musicals ever written, but it was lost to the public for decades because rights of the piece were locked up by American commercial producers. The last productions were in Toronto in 1997 and in Chicago in 1996.  This production at the Confederation Centre, directed by Mary Francis Moore with musical direction by Wayne Gwillim, is a chance for local audiences to see this concert.

“I saw this inspired musical almost 20 years ago and it remains one of the best original Canadian musicals I’ve ever seen,” says Brazier.

Leslie Arden is one of Canada’s foremost musical theatre composers. Her extensive career has taken her around the world, but her love of theatre came from watching The Charlottetown Festival, where her mother, Cleone Duncan, performed for many years in Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™.

The House of Martin Guerre (Concert Presentation) comes to the Homburg Theatre on September 18 at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased now. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2018 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian.

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Soul Sister Takes the Lead

The story of Jesus Christ Superstar is told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot – a tragic figure who is dissatisfied with how Jesus is leading his disciples and what downfalls may come because of it. This season at The Charlottetown Festival, audiences have been raving about actor Lee Siegel’s interpretation of the role.

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This week, people who come to our production of Jesus Christ Superstar will see a new interpretation, as actress Alicia Toner fills in for the iconic part.

“I’ve known since I got my contract for this year that I would be going on this week, so I started going back to the album and the movie and listening again,” says Toner about her preparation. “I also had the entire rehearsal period to watch Lee (Siegel) make Judas into a compassionate but conflicted being and had my own understudy run to get a feeling for stepping into this role.”

Toner is a well-known singer and performer on P.E.I.. Earlier this year she won the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award with MusicPEI and has been on The Charlottetown Festival main stage for the past six seasons.

The role of Judas, itself, has always been a dream for Toner to play. Toner says, “I definitely did not think I would ever be able to say I got a chance to play Judas. It means a lot to be able to do it here in Charlottetown.”

Adam Brazier, director of Jesus Christ Superstar and artistic director of The Charlottetown Festival, is also excited to see Toner in this role.

“Alicia Toner is a powerhouse force of nature. Her incredible vocals and ability to interpret this story without gender bias or any shifting of narrative offers an amazing experience for anyone who is familiar with this highly celebrated production,” adds Brazier.

For Toner, she feels the narrative of the story doesn’t change with a woman in the role of Judas, but by simply having a different actor playing that part it will be a new experience for audience-goers.

“If you’ve already seen the show, you know that Lee is a force to be reckoned with. We are obviously two different people, genders aside, and seeing the show with a different Judas will be a different experience. That being said, the narrative remains the same. One thing I love about playing Judas as a woman is that nothing needs to change.

If you’ve heard the musical, you also know how vocally-demanding the role of Judas can be. Toner has years of experience as a singer and performer that has allowed her to prepare, vocally, for these parts. Only in one song was the key changed and the rest remains the same. Still, even though she feels she’s ready, she’s also nervous and excited.

“Name the emotion and I am feeling it – excited to share the stage in a different context with this incredible cast and thankful to Lee for creating such a beautiful character for me to step in to.”

Alicia Toner will be taking on the role of Judas from August 15 to 19 and can be seen throughout the season in Jesus Christ Superstar as a Soul Sister and Anne of Green Gables-The Musical as Prissy Andrews until September 22.

The Buzz By Brazier

 What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happenin”… iconic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar opens June 7 at The 2018 Charlottetown Festival.

If you are one of the thousands of long-time fans of the musical, you will be interested in hearing more about the back-story of the origins and shaping of the ground-breaking production. If you didn’t live through the 70s belting out the soundtrack, this is a wonderful opportunity to hear more about this timeless, universal story with a modern twist that explores the last week of Jesus’ life as seen through the troubled eyes of Judas Iscariot.  

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Please join The Charlottetown Festival’s Artistic Director, Adam Brazier, on April 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Confederation Centre Library for “Director’s Cut – Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Adam will discuss the production’s history, rich themes, and the challenges he faced adapting Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical for the Homburg stage.

Admission is free. Please RSVP by emailing Kara Hughes at khughes@confederationcentre.com.

Stars of Superstar

Complete casting has been announced for Jesus Christ Superstar at The 2018 Charlottetown Festival. The Adam Brazier-directed production will present his take on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s legendary rock opera.

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The 2018 cast is anchored by Festival newcomer Lee Siegel as Judas, with PEI’s Aaron Hastelow as Jesus Christ. Joining them as Mary Magdalene is another Festival newcomer Hailey Gillis. Other leads include Greg Gale as Caiaphas, Cameron MacDuffee as King Herod, Edward Murphy as High Priest, Brendan Wall as Pontius Pilate, Jacob MacInnis as Peter, Andrew McAllister as Simon Zealotes, and Tara Jackson as Annas.

This will be Lee’s fifth time performing in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar; his past performances have included a run on Broadway where he played Simon Zealotes the 2012 revival. The Niagara Falls, ON native is excited to play Judas again, this time for The Charlottetown Festival.

Jesus Christ Superstar has been a part of my life since I was a child and I’m thrilled to have the chance to step back into the shoes of Judas,” says Siegel. He goes on to say, “I have never been to PEI, so I’m looking forward to meeting the locals, experiencing the Island, and sharing in the excitement of the Festival. It’s an honour to be a part of such a prestigious Canadian theatre company, and I hope it’s the start of many seasons to come.”

Gillis will make her debut to the Festival as Mary Magdalene. The Grimsby, ON native is no stranger to the stage, having performed in all major theatres across Canada including several seasons with Soulpepper.

A global phenomenon that has wowed audiences for over 40 years, Jesus Christ Superstar is a timeless rock opera set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally known series of events seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2018 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian. The musical is sponsored by Tim Hortons. Show opens on June 7 in the Homburg Theatre.

Celebrating World Theatre Day

Confederation Centre of the Arts will be celebrating World Theatre Day on March 27 with a free play reading of One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, happening in the Art Gallery at 7:00 p.m.

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Since 1962, World Theatre Day has been celebrated by theatre professionals, organizations, universities and theatre lovers all over the world on the 27th of March. This day is a celebration for those who can see the value and importance of the art form “theatre”.  For more information: http://www.world-theatre-day.org/

Please join Artistic Director, Adam Brazier for:

 World Theatre Day Celebration at the Centre

Free play reading: One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

7:00 p.m. in the ART GALLERY

A partnership with The PEI Pay-What-You-Can Theatre Festival

 The runaway West End and Broadway hit, One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean is a classic ensemble slapstick farce.Join us for a romp through this hilarious and complicated world of small-potatoes gangsterism, cross-dressing, mistaken identity, and thwarted romance…

Full synopsis: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/17222-one-man-two-guvnors

Dutch Mason Pulls In

The New Next Gilbert

J.J. Gerber is more than excited to be the next actor to play Avonlea’s beloved Gilbert Blythe in The 2018 Charlottetown Festival production of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical™.

thumbnail_image006“I grew up enjoying this story with my sister and Gilbert was always my favourite,” says Gerber. “When I heard that I would be getting a chance to play Gilbert I called her and we both couldn’t believe it.”

The Brampton, Ontario native is no stranger to the stage. Gerber just wrapped up Grease at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto where he played Sonny’s understudy. Last year Gerber played Troy in Stratford’s A Chorus Line, and was a member of La Troupe in Moliere’s The Hypochondriac.  He is currently playing Eddie in Citadel’s production of Mamma Mia!

This will be Gerber’s Charlottetown festival debut and he’ll do so opposite AJ Bridel who will reprise the role of Anne Shirley. The Kitchener, Ontario native captured the hearts of audiences last summer with her endless energy and abundance of talent. She just completed the Ross Petty pantomime A Christmas Carol-The Family Musical with a Scrooge Loose! in Toronto.

For his part, Gerber says that the story of Anne of Green Gables is the epitome of Canadian culture in theatrical form. “This story is about growing up in a land full of promise, possibility, and hope, and accepting those in need even if it isn’t the popular idea.” He ends by saying, “To think that I get to be a part of The Charlottetown Festival is truly a dream come true.”

The Adam Brazier-directed production is in year two of a major three-year refresh, and he is pleased to announce that this summer there will be a new revolving stage.

“The new stage will not only add a beautiful island texture to our production, but it will allow for better fluidity in our storytelling,” says Brazier.

Brazier goes on to explain that in the centre of the stage is an 18 foot revolve that is large enough to turn the Green Gables house 360 degrees. He says that this new perspective will inspire audiences to have the same sense of awe and wonder that Anne experiences. The stage will also become essential to scene changes, which he says, could play a pivotal role in creating the illusion of distance and travel. He ends by pointing out that although the stage is designed for Anne of Green Gables: The Musical™, there will be an additional platform that can be laid on top of it to accommodate other productions at the Centre.

 “This is an exciting summer for our production and I am so grateful for the hard work of our staff to help make this new vision a reality,” says Brazier.

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical™, sponsored by CAA, begins its Guinness Record Holding 54th consecutive season on June 18, playing the Homburg Theatre until September 22. Playing opposite in the same theatre is Jesus Christ Superstar, sponsored by Tim Hortons, which runs June 7 until September 22. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2018 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian.

Stay tuned for more exciting casting announcements in the coming months.