Casting Announced for 2019 Charlottetown Festival

Select Casting Announced for Mamma Mia! and Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical

The 2019 Charlottetown Festival launching 50% off sale, November 17 to December 1

Artistic Director Adam Brazier, on behalf of Confederation Centre of the Arts, has announced select casting for The 2019 Charlottetown Festival. Sponsored by CIBC, the Festival includes six productions and runs June 28 to September 28.

Rebecca Poff and Katie Kerr will star as mother and daughter Donna and Sophie in Mamma Mia!, a co-production with the Grand Theatre in London, playing in the Homburg Theatre August 9 to September 27. Poff turned heads in the Festival’s  2018 concert performance of The House of Martin Guerre and also appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar and Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™. A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Poff has performed throughout the continent, including in the Canadian National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera and the U.S. National/Broadway tours of Show Boat.

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Kerr returns to the Greek Islands of Mamma Mia!, having previously starred as Sophie in the blockbuster 2016 production in Charlottetown, as well as with two other theatres. Kerr’s other credits consist of multiple roles in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™, including the title role from 2013-14, and in the world premiere of Evangeline. “Sophie is really the driving force in Mamma Mia!” says Brazier, who will once again direct the musical. “It’s no wonder Katie has since played the role across Canada; she is a tour de force as Sophi

The Festival’s new production of Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical runs June 28 until July 20 in the Homburg Theatre. Directed by the Festival’s associate artistic, Mary Francis Moore, the powerhouse rock musical is an electric experience, following Hamlet’s quest for vengeance upon his uncle Claudius for killing his father. Aaron Hastelow stars as Hamlet and will also appear in Mamma Mia! as Sophie’s beau, Skye. 

Brazier is pleased to welcome back Festival favourite Cameron MacDuffee opposite Hastelow as Claudius, King of Denmark. MacDuffee recently appeared as a scene-stealing King Herod in the Festival’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and has performed across Canada, including four seasons at Shaw Festival. His Charlottetown highlights include turns in Evangeline, Ring of Fire, and On the Road with Dutch Mason. He will also reprise his role as Harry in Mamma Mia! at the 2019 Festival.

Making her mainstage debut in Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical will be Kimberly Truong as Ophelia. Truong hails from Prince Rupert, B.C. and was previously part of the Confederation Centre Young Company in Les Feux Follets. She has appeared in productions of Les Misérables, West Side Story, and A Chorus Line. Last year, she made her Broadway debut in the celebrated revival of Miss Saigon. “It is thrilling to have Kimberly back at The Charlottetown Festival,“ remarks Brazier. ”She has an extraordinary voice and an undeniable presence onstage.”

The other big news is that the Festival is once again offering a ‘50% Off Sale’ ticket sale for the 2019 Festival. This sale is a favourite for Islanders searching for tickets every summer and is on sale for a limited time only. From November 17 to December 1 these can be purchased at the Centre box office, online, or by phone at 1 (902) 566-1267 or 1 (800) 565-0278. This sale is available for Founders’ Circle members as of November 16.

Additional casting, including a new leading star for Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ and a new Gilbert, will be announced in the months ahead.

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Lifting the Curtain

A fiery redhead. A grieving son. A gregarious family on the Rock. The musical pull of the Atlantic. A young woman’s search for family. Sit a spell. Have we got a story for you! Confederation Centre has announced the playbill for The Charlottetown Festival–the largest musical theatre festival in Atlantic Canada.

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Sponsored by CIBC, the Festival will commence June 28 with the much anticipated return of Kronborg–The Hamlet Rock Musical. This original Canadian work has become a cult favourite for Islanders who recall the 1975 production starring Brent Carver and Beverly D’Angelo. This remains the only production in the history of the Festival to be produced on Broadway.

Based on the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, originally written by Cliff Jones, this musical rocked the rafters in 2017, selling out a concert presentation at the Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River and later packing the Homburg Theatre. Next summer’s fully realized production will weave the story of a prince who plots revenge on his uncle for taking his beloved father’s life.

Festival favourite and Island son Aaron Hastelow, coming off rave reviews as the lead in this season’s Jesus Christ Superstar, will return to star as Hamlet next year. Additional major casting information will be revealed later this fall, when the Centre offers a ‘Buy-1-Get-1’ sale for a limited time only, from November 17 to December 1. The Festival will also announce production information on the 2019 Confederation Centre Young Company.

The Festival’s crown jewel Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™ will return for its 55th consecutive summer, a testament to the global appeal of a classic inspired by a classic. This enduring story of an orphan girl who came from away and changed the Island forever will run June 29 to September 28.

A mother, a daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Back to the Centre by popular demand, it’s Mamma Mia! This sunny ABBA-driven tale follows a daughter’s quest to find her father by inviting three men from her mother’s past to her wedding. Presented as a co-production with the Grand Theatre in London, Mamma Mia! will play on P.E.I. from August 9 to September 28.

Over at The Mack, the Festival is thrilled to welcome Tara MacLean’s Maritime love-letter, Atlantic Blue. This celebration of East Coast songwriters previously played at The Guild, and will show from August 2 to September 28. MacLean explores the place and people behind classic songs like ‘Sonny’s Dream’, ‘Put Your Hand in the Hand’, ‘Fare Thee Well Love’, and more. The Island songwriter celebrates those who found a way to create beauty from the challenging experiences in their own lives. With the addition of members of the Festival and its orchestra, this new production will make every Atlantic Canadian proud.

From July 20 through September 28, Spinning Yarns will shine a light on Newfoundland and Labrador in the early ‘80s: a world of raucous adventures, death defying escapades, and dubious childcare! This hilarious evening of story and song stars festival favourite, Stephen Guy-McGrath (Evangeline, Million Dollar Quartet). Through it all shines a fierce love of family and a boundless longing for home.

The Centre wishes to 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.

A Rock Opera for the Ages

A struggle between people in power and exploring the choices that define a person’s character and their future..Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera that you’ll never forget.

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(Brendan Wall + Aaron Hastelow, Jesus Christ Superstar, Charlottetown Festival 2018)

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.

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.

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.