Tag Archives: Catherine O’Brien

PTN Promotes Island Theatre

A group of six Island professional theatre companies have come together to form the Professional Theatre Network of PEI in order to share resources, collaborate, and work with government, all with the purpose of furthering professional theatre on the Island. The six companies are The Charlottetown FestivalThe GuildHarbourfront TheatreVictoria PlayhouseWatermark Theatre, and Young at Heart.

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These companies collectively hire approximately 500 full time, part time, and seasonal workers each year and they spend over $5.5 million annually, proving that professional theatre is a major employer and economic contributor to the Island. The group defines professional theatres as organizations that strive for artistic excellence and in which the artists are consistently paid for their work at a Canadian Actors’ Equity and Associated Designers of Canada standard or its equivalent.

The PTN are planning and have planned several new initiatives. First and foremost is the desire to rally government and corporate support for a large scale marketing initiative promoting Prince Edward Island as a theatre destination. Similar to previous campaigns featuring golf courses and local food, the PTN sees professional theatre as a way to draw more tourists to the Island.

This year, the PTN, along with governmental agencies, began a Mentorship Program in which 16 interns were trained this summer with theatres across the Island. This program will continue into 2017 and beyond.

The PTN is also looking at new ways to offer packaged ticket offers where audience members may buy a “Theatre Passport” to see productions at numerous theatres throughout the summer months. Other coordinated ticketing possibilities are also being explored.

Possible collaboration opportunities include joint Events (March 27th), joint marketing opportunities, additional training or development partnerships, and sharing resources whenever possible. A theatre blog has been launched at http://www.peitheatre.com as a way to promote all the theatres productions at one location.

In addition to their monthly meetings, representatives of the PTN have already, and will continue, to attend outside meetings and conferences voicing the concerns and wishes of the group, all in the hopes of furthering attendance to theatrical events and fueling the provincial economy.

For further information and/or to set up an interview with any of the member theatre companies please contact Catherine O’Brien at cathjobrien@gmail.com or 902-393-9419.

(Post) Mistress Delivers, First Class!

When you cross a truly unique set (Scenic Design by W. Scott MacConnell, who did a great job creating a post office/cabaret hybrid) & light show (designed by James Clement & technically executed by Dave Nicholson) with musical direction on keyboards by Holly Arsenault, & Ken Fornetran on Saxophone & then let Martha Irving go to town with her magical conversions of a bunch of random letters into song, you get a stage that absolutely beams of enthusiasm & star shine!

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Postmistress Martha Irving (Director of the musical Anne & Gilbert for 5 years) began her career at Victoria Playhouse in Barefoot in the Park in 1977 & returned last year to star in Sexy Laundry. This year, from August 6 to September 4, she owns the stage as a charming postal worker with a lovely French Canadian accent named Marie-Louise (whose raison d’être, she admits during the show, is her service to her post office), a role she originated at Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, NS, in this dynamic one-woman show by Playwright Tomson Highway (who is the recipient of 10 honorary doctorates & is a member of the Order of Canada, today enjoying an international career as a playwright, novelist, pianist, composer, & songwriter). In The Postmistress, Irving is quick on her feet, hitting all the notes in a variety of catchy tunes from both of Canada’s official languages (the soundtrack album of The (Post) Mistress, received a Juno Award in 2015 for Aboriginal Album of the Year), & taking the audience to school in terms of comedic timing. She also makes very effective use of props.

In many songs she was shelling out the dirt on residential gossip, but nonetheless remains a class act the whole way through. Most of the numbers required a delicate balance of sentimentality, phrasing, & punch-line ad libs (usually with a nudge & a wink) & she was very impressive. I thought the story she told about her younger days in Buenos Aires was just adorable. Director Catherine O’Brien (who is also playing the role of Rachel Lynde in this season’s production of Anne & Gilbert at The Guild), who has demonstrated her talents as an actress & vocalist on many occasions over the years must no doubt be very proud of this performance.

I’m sure the collective abundance of theatrical experience between everyone involved had a lot to do with the seamless flow of a range of emotions from sadness, to madness, to seduction, to utter silliness (sometimes even bordering on going absolutely postal), & huge rounds of applause were definitely not in short supply. Unless you find the thought of listening to a French-Canadian accent for a couple of hours annoying there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have a great time watching Martha Irving strutting her stuff. If you can get a ticket to this feel-good, must-see PEI theatre event, it’s well worth the drive out to the Victoria Playhouse.

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

 

A Small Town Musical with Big Secrets

The Victoria Playhouse is delighted to present award-winning aboriginal Canadian Tomson Highway’s one-woman musical The (Post) Mistress. The production stars popular Halifax-based actor Martha Irving performing under the direction of Catherine O’Brien, with musical direction and keyboards by Holly Arsenault and Ken Fornetran on saxophone.

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Irving was first approached by Matthew Tiffin, past Artistic Director of Ship’s Company Theatre in Parsborro, Nova Scotia to play the title role of Marie-Louise.

“The idea terrified me! But I like to do things that terrify and challenge me,” Irving recalls.

She pushed her fears aside and discovered that she loved the role. Since then, she has performed the part of Marie-Louise, not only at Ship’s Company, but also at Neptune Theatre in Halifax and the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ontario.

The Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia wrote of The (Post) Mistress, “Martha Irving gave an astonishing performance … that drew shouts of bravo and standing ovations as she became the colourful French-Canadian Marie-Louise running a village post office.”

The (Post) Mistress is at the Victoria Playhouse August 6 through September 4.

(Post) Mistress Opens at Victoria Playhouse

As part of its 35th season, the Victoria Playhouse is delighted to produce award-winning aboriginal Canadian Tomson Highway’s one-woman musical The (Post) Mistress. The production will star popular Halifax-based actor Martha Irving performing under the direction of Catherine O’Brien, with musical direction and keyboards by Holly Arsenault and Ken Fornetran on saxophone.

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Irving was first approached by Matthew Tiffin, past Artistic Director of Ship’s Company Theatre in Parsborro, Nova Scotia to play the title role of Marie-Louise.

“The idea terrified me! But I like to do things that terrify and challenge me,” Irving recalls.

She pushed her fears aside and discovered that she loved the role. Since then, she has performed the part of Marie-Louise, not only at Ship’s Company, but also at Neptune Theatre in Halifax and the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ontario. This August she brings her Marie-Louise to the stage in Victoria.

The (Post) Mistress is set in a small multilingual town in Northern Ontario in 1968, a time before electronic communications, when the post office was still the hub of the community. Marie-Louise, the town’s post mistress, tells the stories and gossip of the town which she gleans from the residents’ mail.

Irving knew that in order to play Marie-Louise, she would need to perfect not only her French accent, but also her Cree, as some lyrics are written in that language. It was Tomson Highway himself who stepped in to coach her in the latter. Highway, whose mother tongue is Cree, uses his writing as a means of promoting the preservation and usage of the language.

“The Cree language is so beautiful,” says Irving. “It’s like poetry. And it is deeply rooted in nature and the concept of Mother Earth.”

Irving is happy to be back on the Victoria Playhouse stage once again. In 1977, she made her theatrical debut there in a production of Barefoot in the Park and last summer she starred opposite Rob MacLean in the Playhouse hit production Sexy Laundry. But she is especially pleased to be bringing Marie-Louise to Victoria.

“Marie-Louise is a wonderful character. I wasn’t done performing her,” says Irving.

(Photo of Martha Irving by Jay Kopinski for the Thousand Islands Playhouse. Logo design by Ron Walsh.)

Looking for Love at The Mack

Fly Away With The Swinging Sounds Of The Valentine’s Cabaret

With love in the air, Sobeys Live @ the Centre serves up the ever popular Valentine’s Cabaret next week, sponsored by Charm Diamond Centres.

Vocalists Catherine O’Brien and Joey Kitson come together with the rock-solid house band of Don Fraser on keys, Music PEI Artist of the Year Deryl Gallant on bass, and Alan White on drums for this must-see February 14 tradition. The musical union sets the scene for a memorable night of romance, humour, and classic love songs.

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“The Valentine’s Cabaret is a night like no other, one accented by the swinging sounds from another era that is sure to entertain, surprise, and romance,” offers Fraser, director of the Centre’s Choral Music Programme. “February 14 is an evening out at The Mack where you will hear a varied selection of classics from the American Songbook,”

The jazz trio will back Kitson and O’Brien across two rollicking sets of ballads, blues tunes, and pop standards, including ‘My Funny Valentine’, ‘My Baby just Cares for Me’, ‘Angel Eyes’, and ‘The Way you Look Tonight.’ Other standouts include ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Blue Skies’.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at The Mack and tickets are moving fast! Contact the Centre’s box office at (902) 566-1267, toll free at 1-800-565-0278, or online at confederationcentre.com.

Special thanks are extended to Sobeys, the title sponsor of Live @ the Centre, as well as media sponsors The Guardian, Hot 105.5 and Ocean 100.