Tag Archives: Craig Fair

Hamlet Hits the Road

Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical to Embark on World Tour

Rights for The Charlottetown Festival-made musical acquired for stages across Canada, Australia, U.K. and more;

Final four more performances remain at Confederation Centre

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Confederation Centre of the Arts is excited to learn that David Carver Music has acquired the world-wide touring rights to the acclaimed Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical. The masterful stage musical balances high energy vocal and dance performances and rousing power ballads with songs reaching into the darker emotions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

This Saturday July 20, Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical wraps up a successful three week run in Charlottetown, P.E.I. “We are not surprised David Carver Music has picked up this show to go on tour,” says Confederation Centre CEO, Steve Bellamy. “The music is powerful and audiences have absolutely loved it during its run at The Charlottetown Festival. Confederation Centre of the Arts is thrilled that more people will be able to experience this exciting show in Canada and around the world!”

With a bright future ahead, Confederation Centre invites the public to come and celebrate this home-grown musical one last time before it prepares for audiences across the globe. The production, sponsored by SYSCO Food Services, is on stage now in the Homburg Theatre, with select dates and tickets still available. See full calendar and ticket info here. The title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival is CIBC.

Audiences and critics alike have lauded the epic production, with extensive media attention drawn nationally from The Globe and Mail, National Post, Broadway World, the flagship CBC Radio program q, and the Canadian Press.

For over 30 years, David Carver Music (DCM) has been producing major concert tours with some of the biggest names in music, including Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Bryan Adams, Brooks and Dunn, Bob Seger, and many more.

DCM’s 2020 tour is planned to visit theatres in Canada, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. Complete tour dates and production information for this version of the production—dubbed Hamlet: The Rock Musical–will be announced in the months ahead from DCM.

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, and later Los Angeles. In 2019, Kronborg returned, reimagined and re-orchestrated by Director Mary Francis Moore and Musical Director Craig Fair.

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
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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

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

Kronborg Ready to Be

Complete Casting Announced for ‘Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical’

Epic rock musical telling of ‘Hamlet’ opens Friday, June 21 at Confederation Centre of the Arts

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A ghostly visitor with a secret; a son devastated by loss; a deadly sword duel – and the most famous question in all of drama (“To be or not to be…”).

These are just some of the reasons why Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy turned musical will hold you spellbound in the Homburg Theatre. Add in a thrilling rock opera score, a full orchestra, and a cast of 28 stellar Canadian actors, and you have all the makings of an intoxicating musical experience.

“This is a ghost story, a story of family, power, revenge, and sacrifice,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director of Confederation Centre. “As the great actor and director Lawrence Olivier said; it is the story of a man who cannot make up his mind.”

Opening June 21 at Confederation Centre of the Arts, the musical is sponsored by SYSCO Food Services. Playing until July 20, Kronborg returns to The Charlottetown Festival, 45 years after first mesmerizing theatre-goers in 1973-74.

The musical was a breakthrough for Confederation Centre and the country, becoming the first Canadian musical to play on Broadway in 1975. Originally written and conceived by Cliff Jones, the 2019 production promises to entrance a whole new generation of theatre-lovers. This re-envisioned production is directed by Mary Francis Moore with music direction from Craig Fair.

“Craig, Cliff, and I recognize the significance the piece plays, not only in the history of the Festival, but also in the history of new musicals in Canada,” offers Moore, who has been working with her artistic team to redevelop the musical for two years.

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

Moore and Brazier are thrilled to now reveal complete casting for the epic musical. Starring Aaron Hastelow as Hamlet, the production includes:

Kimberly-Ann Truong as Ophelia, Cameron MacDuffee as Claudius,

Alanna Hibbert as Gertrude, Brendan Wall as the Ghost King,

Andrew McAllister as Marcellus, Jacob MacInnis as Horatio,

Teddy Moynihan as Rosencrantz, Nicole Norsworthy as Guildenstern,

Gray Monczka as Laertes, Michael Torontow as Polonius, and Nicola-Dawn Brook as Honeybelle.

See the complete cast and creative team listing in addendum. 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

Kronborg 1582 at Indian River

In celebration of one of the Festival’s most successful ever musicals Confederation Centre will revisit Kronborg 1582 this month, presenting a concert performance at the world-renowned Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River on Friday, July 28.

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Based on the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, the rock opera was produced by Confederation Centre in 1975, starring Brent Carver and Beverly D’Angelo, and went on to play on Broadway. The rock musical was created by Cliff Jones and was originally commissioned by the CBC. It tells the story of a Danish prince who plots revenge on his uncle for killing his father.

On Friday July 28 at 7:30 p.m., members of The 2017 Charlottetown Festival Ensemble and Orchestra will deliver a concert performance of Kronborg at the W.C. Harris-built Indian River Church, marking an exciting collaboration between two iconic Island summer events: the Indian River Festival and The Charlottetown Festival.

The concert performance will star P.E.I.’s own Aaron Hastelow as Hamlet, Cam MacDuffee as Claudius, Kristen Pottle as Ophelia, and Alana Hibbert as Gertrude. Additional casting includes George Masswohl as Polonius, Connor Lucas as Laertes, Eric Dahlinger as Horatio, Evan Taylor Benyacar as Marcellus, Robbie Graham-Kuntz as Rosencrantz, Adam Sergison as Guildenstern, Glenda Landry as Honeybelle, Hank Stinson as Sexton/Ghost, and Susan Henley as the M.C. Additional cast members from the Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ company will complete the Kronborg chorus.

Kronborg: 1582 is directed by the Festival’s Associate Artistic Director, Mary Francis Moore and musically directed by Craig Fair. Tickets are available at indianriverfestival.com, at the Indian River Festival box office at Historic St. Mary’s Church, 1374 Hamilton Road (12-5 p.m. daily), or via phone, at 1-866-856-3733.

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

Ready! Aim! Robyn Hood!

Robyn Hood and her ‘Fairly Merrily Men’ are riding to the rescue this holiday season. Adam Brazier’s comedy-musical Robyn Hood: This Tale’s Even Fairlier comes to life this week, premiering Friday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m. and playing select dates until December 17 at the Homburg Theatre.

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From the comedic minds of Adam Brazier and Graham Putnam, Sobeys LIVE @ the Centre presents a ridiculous musical in the ‘pantomime’ tradition. Expect great music, dancing, and gags in this madcap adventure set in the Kingdom of Charlottetown and Sherwood-Parkdale Forest. Audiences are asked to boo the villain (Matt Rainnie’s tyrannical ‘Prince John’), cheer our heroes (Maria Campbell and Jessica Gallant as ‘Robyn Hood’ and ‘Maid Marian’), and revel in plentiful local humour and holiday cheer.

Robyn Hood features a cast of 75 performers, including Charlottetown Festival regular Alana Bridgewater (Spoon River, Hairspray), Sarah MacPhee (reprising her annual role as ‘the Town Crier’), Putnam (Sketch 22, Annekenstein), and students from the Holland College and Confederation Centre School of Performing Arts. See the full cast list online.

Musical Director Craig Fair leads the production’s many vocalists and community orchestra through an electric song list of musical theatre and pop hits, including ‘9 to 5′, ‘Feel the Same Way Too’, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and many more. Choreography is from Taryn Verkerk, stage management from Anne Murphy, set design from Garny Gallant, and lighting design from Steve Ross.

Starting at just $25, tickets are on sale now. Visit confederationcentre.com/theatre or contact the box office at (902) 566.1267. The official hashtag is #RobynConfed. Appreciation is extended to production sponsor Maid Marian’s Diner and media sponsors The Guardian, Hot 105.5, and Ocean 100.

Home for the Holidays

Adam Brazier’s holiday musical has added a local star, with the pride of Ten Mile House, Jessica Gallant joining the production as Maid Marion.

Robyn Hood: This Tale’s Even Fairlier marks the first time the Charlottetown Festival mainstay has performed in a Christmas musical comedy for Confederation Centre, and Gallant is excited for everything this hilarious adventure will hold.

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“I’m thrilled to be performing at home during my favourite time of year — Christmas!” says Gallant, who spends the fall and winter months in Toronto. “Although the Island temperatures may feel cold, the season is so warm and exciting. I’m expecting nothing but belly-laughs and wit with Adam’s take on Robyn Hood!”

Although this marks her first role in one of Brazier’s holiday farces, which include Cinderella and Aladdin, Gallant has been a Festival favourite for more than five seasons. She first debuted with the Confederation Centre Young Company in Abegweit: the Soul of the Island before making her Homburg Theatre debut as Diana Barry in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™.

She also appeared in the world premiere of Evangeline, and productions of Mamma Mia! and Alice Through the Looking-Glass. She played Canada’s favourite redhead for the past two Festival seasons while continuing to perform in musicals and workshops in the Toronto area during the year.

Robyn Hood: This Tale’s Even Fairlier will be staged at Confederation Centre on select dates, December 9 to 17, 2016. Enjoy an alluring song list of musical theatre and pop hits – including ‘9 to 5,’ ‘Holding Out For A Hero,’ ‘Imagination,’ and ‘The Final Countdown’ – and a cast of dozens of Island school children and community performers.

Artistic Director Adam Brazier will direct and the script is by Brazier and Graham Putnam, with Festival mainstay Craig Fair as music director and Matthew MacInnis as production stage manager. Maria Campbell stars as the female Robyn Hood with Alana Bridgewater as Friar Tuck, and more principle casting to be announced next week.