Tag Archives: Bob Foster

Did You Hear Did You Hear?

While Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ is enjoying the first of a three-year revival in the Homburg Theatre, many changes are happening behind the scenes. Following the addition of new leads, sets, and costumes, a sweeping new sound design has been introduced and the harp has been returned to the orchestra for the first time in years.

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When asked to instill a new life into the musical’s score, Festival Music Director Bob Foster went right to the harp, bringing in Janice Lindskoog for a total of 14 orchestra members. “In many ways, the harp is the musical heart of the sound and is a most beautifully written part,” he says. “Just adding it back in has made a huge difference to the sound in the pit and on stage.”

 For her part, Lindskoog is thrilled to return, having played with the Festival from 2005-11, including a tour to Toronto. “Every harpist will bring their own personality and interpretation to the score, which is charming and timeless,” she offers. “I play the imaginative orchestrations by John Fenwick, which contribute special colours and allow for musical expression in the accompaniment of the voice.”

 adaThe musical world has changed a lot since Anne™ first premiered, and so has the listener’s ear. With advanced systems in every home now, a certain quality has become normalized, and a theatre can no longer rely only on its acoustic sound. Foster and Director Adam Brazier brought in Peter McBoyle, a sound design expert of great renown to help with this industry shift.

 “Alongside Kevin MacLean, Head of Audio, and the new advanced equipment at the Centre, we are on our way to bringing the sound of this musical up to date, “ says Foster. “I also give great thanks to the fine musicians in the pit who have helped breathe new life into this national treasure.”

McBoyle desired to present the score in a richer way and bring out the nuances in the strings and the woodwinds. He also wanted to clarify the actors’ mics, so that every lyric would be heard crisply. “I wanted to achieve all of this in a way that sounds natural and that doesn’t call attention to itself,” explains the designer. “Ideally the audience would never know that the sound they are hearing is coming from speakers.”

 One challenge was the large number of hats worn this year. “This can make it tricky to get a good mic position and good sound from the performer,” says McBoyle. “The sound reflects off the hat and makes a great mic sound not as sharp as it could be. Theatre is always a combination of collaboration and compromise though and we found ways to work things out.”

 “Sonically, the funeral procession in Act 2 is something I am most proud of,” he reflects. “The orchestration is really something special and the addition of a little bit of rain and a distant thunder makes it beautiful, sad, and thoughtful all at once.”

 “Of course, adding the live harp back in to the pit was a great decision for a variety of reasons and I’ve developed a mic technique that really makes the harp sound full and dynamic and so, given that it was an important part of the reinvention of this show, I am very happy with how it sounds in the mix.”

 Patrons can hear and see Anne™ in the Homburg Theatre until September 23, 2017. Special thanks are extended to the Government of Canada for their support of Confederation Centre; and The Charlottetown Festival title sponsor, CIBC and production sponsor RE/MAX Charlottetown.  Appreciation is extended to media sponsors Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, CTV, and The Guardian.

The New Anne Shirley

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

This summer’s mega-concert musical, Million Dollar Quartet is set to open at The Charlottetown Festival at Confederation Centre next week. Sponsored by Tim Horton’s, the most anticipated Island production of the year has been on fire at the box office all year and promises to wow theatregoers when the curtain lifts on June 14.

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 In December 1956, a 20 yr. old Jerry Lee Lewis, 21 yr. old Elvis Presley, 24 yr. old Johnny Cash, and 24 yr. old Carl Perkins stepped into the legendary Sun Record Studios under the direction of Sam Phillips and created an evening of musicianship that, by today’s standards, would have taken months to arrange and negotiate.

 “Imagine what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall and experienced that evening first-hand,” enthuses Director and Choreographer Tracey Flye. “The comradery, the competition, and the opportunity to get a private glimpse into the lives of these young men — out of the spotlight for a few precious hours and able to simply be themselves and revel in each other’s musical talents.”

 That is what Million Dollar Quartet promises — a momentary glimpse into these four extraordinary lives, under ordinary circumstances. Four young musicians unaffected by their public persona for an evening, able to play for the pure joy of playing. “How lucky are we that the producer and architect of that evening, Sam Phillips, had the foresight to make it all happen!? “ exclaims Flye.

 The cast includes Greg Gale (Cash), Matthew Lawrence (Elvis), Jefferson McDonald (Jerry Lee), Ed Murphy (Perkins), Alicia Toner (Dyanne), and Stephen Guy-McGrath (Sam Phillips). Additional accompaniment is provided by Trevor Grant (Fluke, the drummer) and Evan Stewart (Brother Jay Perkins, bass).

 Million Dollar Quartet is musically directed by Bob Foster, with sets and costumes from Corey Sincennes, lighting by Michael Walton, and sound design by Peter McBoyle. The original concept and direction is by Floyd Mutrux, with the book by Colin Escott and Mutrux. Adam Brazier is Artistic Director for The Charlottetown Festival.

 Special thanks are extended to the Government of Canada for their support of Confederation Centre; production sponsor, Tim Horton’s; and The Charlottetown Festival sponsor, CIBC. Appreciation is extended to media sponsors Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, CTV, and The Guardian.

Summer School

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.

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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.

The Next Anne Shirley

Trading Kinky Boots’ red heels for red braids, AJ Bridel is set for school again. The 22-year-old actress will become the 18th triple threat to play Anne Shirley at The Charlottetown Festival, joining an all new production led by Artistic Director Adam Brazier.

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2017 marks the first time Brazier will direct the treasured Island musical, and his search for the iconic hero of Avonlea was exhaustive. “AJ brings the kind of imagination, desire, and youthful excitement that is essential to the role,” he explains. “I am very excited to begin the rehearsal process and bring this new Anne Shirley to our stage.”

Born in Calgary and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Bridel is a rising star of Canadian theatre. In 2016 she won a Toronto Critics Award and Dora nomination for her turn as ‘Lauren’ in Mirvish’s Kinky Boots and also starred in the Ross Petty panto Sleeping Beauty. She made a national splash in 2012, placing in the top-3 on CBC TV’s Over the Rainbow reality talent competition and went on to play Dorothy in Drayton’s The Wizard of Oz. Her turn as Anne Shirley will mark her Festival debut as well as her first time on the East Coast.

For her part, Bridel is honoured to join the Festival, calling it a dream role. “I cannot wait to spend the summer on this beautiful island, working with one of Canada’s greatest directors, Adam Brazier and recreating Anne of Green Gables with the incredible cast and crew he has assembled,” she enthuses. “Anne is a Canadian treasure and I am so excited to put those red braids on and try my best to fill the shoes of the incredible actresses who have loved her as much as I do!”

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements as this is the first of several changes towards a revived Anne™ production with Brazier at the helm. Casting news will soon be revealed for ‘Matthew,’ ‘Marilla,’ ‘Rachel Lynde,’ ‘Diana,’ and ‘Gilbert.’

Set designer Cory Sincennes – who has made waves with striking Festival designs (Mamma Mia! and Bittergirl) and at theatres across the country – is hard at work imagining a new visual aesthetic for the now 53-year-strong production. The Festival’s Musical Director Bob Foster is also exploring a new sound design for the show with Peter McBoyle (Evangeline) and other changes. Choreographer Robin Calvert will return in 2017 as well.

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ begins it Guinness Record Holding 53rd consecutive season June 26, playing the Homburg Theatre until September 23. Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2017 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian.

Bittergirl is Back

Let’s take it back to The Mack!

Bittergirl: The Musical sold out virtually its entire run when it first premiered at the Festival and will return this summer with new songs and scenes, and the same girl-group hits like ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,’ ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ ‘I Will Survive,’ and ‘Too Many Fish In The Sea.’

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For a limited time only Bittergirl tickets are 40% off for a special Valentine’s Day promotion. Use promocode ‘love’ between February 11 and 14 and treat yourself and a friend to the most hilarious musical of the summer. This promo applies to dates between July 8 and 19, 2017. For tickets, visit the Confederation Centre box office in person, via phone at 902.566.1267, or online at confederationcentre.com/theatre.

This hysterical Canadian-made comedy returns July 5 through August 26, and The Charlottetown Festival has announced complete casting. Jay Davis, Steffi DiDomenicantonio, and Marisa McIntyre all return from the 2015 world premiere and will be joined by London West End veteran, Nicola Dawn Brook.

Brook is no stranger to musical comedy, bringing howls to the Homburg all summer in 2016 blockbuster Mamma Mia! as former Dynamo, Rosie. Brook also recently appeared in Mirvish’s mega-hit Kinky Boots and has performed in her native United Kingdom. with the Prince of Wales Theatre and Victoria Palace, and on the screen in Sweeney Todd and The X-Factor.

For her part, Brook is thrilled to return to the Island “I’m a huge fan of 60’s music and coupled with its hilarious script I think we’re going to get up to some giggles on stage!” she enthuses. “I love to make people laugh. Especially when the news makes you want to scream!”

“The audiences were so warm and generous during our Mamma Mia run,” she continues, “I would often get a lovely hug from audience members after the show — that’s a very special feeling!”

Bittergirl: The Musical is written by Annabel Fitzsimmons, Alison Lawrence, and Mary Francis Moore and will be directed by Artistic Director Adam Brazier. Bob Foster is the show’s musical supervisor and Lisa MacDougall the musical director. Set and costume design is from Cory Sincennes.

Appreciation is extended to the title sponsor for The 2017 Charlottetown Festival, CIBC. Media sponsors are Ocean 100, Hot 105.5, and The Guardian.

Island Strong Anne Opens

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.

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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.