Celebrating the Super Duper Fantabulous Smorgasbord

What do 25 step dancers, two stilt walkers, and an improv troupe have in common? They are all performing in this year’s Confederation Centre of the Arts Holiday Variety Show, happening December 15 and 16 in the Homburg Theatre.

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The Holiday Variety Show presents the very best in Island artists and community players. Artistic Director, Adam Brazier (Evangeline) alongside Patty Sullivan (Kids CBC), will host a variety show where audiences can expect a smorgasbord of entertainment ranging from an all-female barbershop quartet to step dancers, and we can’t forget the return of beloved Islander Tara MacLean.

“This show is meant to celebrate our community,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director for the Centre. “By doing so, we’re creating a unified spirit of joy this holiday season.”

The show opens with Brazier directing a make-believe musical number, as he comes up with a new concept for a holiday variety show that features talent from the Island community. The audience then becomes a “fly on the wall” as Brazier adjudicates the auditions, which are hilarious and maybe a little bizzare. In the final act the actual Holiday Variety Show is performed.

With a cast of over 90 people, ranging in ages from 6 to 75, this year’s Holiday Variety Show will leave you full of joy, gratitude, and jubilation for the holiday season.

Special performances also by: The Popalopolots, Ava and Lily Rashed, Roberts Academy of Dance, The Mi’kmaq Confederacy, Maria Campbell, Justin Simard, and many more.

For tickets please visit: http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/show/384-The-Confederation-Centre-Holiday-Variety-Show

Special thanks are extended to Sobeys, the title sponsor for LIVE @ the Centre! Media sponsors are The Guardian, Ocean 100, and Hot 105.5.

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Join the Sisterhood

Menopause can be a difficult time in woman’s life. Hot flashes and night sweats can be annoying, but finding the humour in the experience can make it a little bit better. That is where Menopause The Musical comes in. It’s a show that celebrates women on the brink of “the change” and those who’ve survived it.

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Set in a department store, four women with nothing in common but a black lace bra come to realize that they have more to share than ever imagined. This off-Broadway sensation uses musical parodies to help bring a comedic spin to an otherwise serious topic. The show takes liberties with classic hits – turning the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive into Staying Awake – and audiences will leave with their faces hurting from laughing so much. 

Co-producer Mark Zimmerman describes why there is a need to have a musical about menopause, “At one time this is a topic that people didn’t discuss, but we bring it to life with this show through comedy.” Zimmerman goes on to explain, “By the end, the women in the audience form a sisterhood.”

Spoiler alert…the cast invites all women to come up at the end of the show to participate in a kick line which is supposed to represent the women joining a sisterhood.

The show was actually created from a hot flash and a bottle of wine,” laughs Janet Martin, Co-producer and cast member. “The show’s writer, Jeanie Linders, had a hot flash one night while drinking a bottle of wine with some girlfriends, they started discussing ‘the change’ and so from there she decided to write Menopause The Musical.”

Over the 11 years that Zimmerman and Martin have been involved in this show they’re still amazed at the absolute joy they see on the faces in the audiences.

“Mothers take daughters, sisters take sisters, and friends take friends. It’s a party every night,” Martin states.

And they insist that the show is also MAN-datory viewing for men.

“Men leave the show with a new perspective and new appreciation for what their partner is going through,” says Zimmerman. “Couples that do come seem to walk out of the show closer and happier.”

Martin ends by saying, “Laugher is healing and the show is relatable. It’s so exhilarating for me to see the standing ovations at the end of the night and to know that I brought a lot of happiness to women.”

This hilarious musical parody staged to classic tunes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s will have you cheering and dancing in the aisles. Join us on November 25 @7:30 in the Homburg Theatre.

Visit http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/show/363-Menopause-The-Musical  for tickets.

A Bit of Bollywood

 A Passage to Bollywood is a classic tale of love and friendship. It’s a story of a young village boy who moves to the big city to follow his dream.  The musical follows his journey and the relationships he builds with the woman of his dreams and the ‘Don’- who takes him under his wing. Filled with romance and drama, the story takes on an unexpected twist with a surprise ending.

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It sounds like a journey that we can all connect to in one way or another. But that’s not the only draw for people to come and see the show as part of the Sobeys’ LIVE @ the Centre program this year. The artistic director is as they say in the biz…the real deal.

Ashley Lobo, the Artistic Director of Navdhara India Dance Theatre, is an acclaimed Indian choreographer with over 32 years of experience in performing, choreographing, and teaching, both in India and overseas. With more than 30 Bollywood films under his belt, he has worked with all the top stars from Sharukh Khan, Hritik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, just to name a few. Lobo studied dance at the famous ‘Bodenweiser Dance Centre’ and the extremely famous Sydney Dance Company. He is also immensely trained in classical ballet, jazz and contemporary styles of dance.

He is excited to bring A Passage to Bollywood to the Island and describes it as a relatable human story told in an entertaining way, “Like a typical Bollywood film, the show is full of song and dance with all the melodrama, romance, action, colour, and excitement you would see on screen – except it is onstage.”

Bollywood is a movement style of dance that incorporates all forms of Indian dance from classical to modern. It also draws inspiration from everyday activities like undoing a light bulb to starting a bike to create dance steps. Set in a surreal canvas that tells real stories, Bollywood dance is what Lobo would describe as an India biryani – meaning a party.

All this talent behind the scenes should make for a spectacular experience for the audience, one that Lobo says they’ll connect with, “It could have been the life of any person who migrated from one city to another or from one country to another.”

Coming to the Homburg Theatre November 15 @7:30 p.m., A Passage to Bollywood promises to turn a night of entertainment on its head.

 For tickets please visit: http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/show/356-A-Passage-to-Bollywood

 

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

When Fake News Does Fake

With razor wit and perfect aim at all things Canadiana and public radio-y, CBC’s This is That has caught the ears of thousands of Canadians, turning the satirical news show into a national icon in its own right. Now in honour of Confederation’s 150th anniversary, the satirical comedy team is hitting the road with dates from coast to coast, hitting the Homburg Theatre at Confederation Centre on April 25 at 7:30 p.m.

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In this this on-stage send up of public radio Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring offer audiences an intimate look behind the studio door of CBC’s award winning production. With a healthy mix of character interviews and mockumentary stories, this news duo doesn’t just report the news, they makes it up! “This is parody mirroring the tone and feel of CBC with uncanny accuracy,” claimed a recent review in The Globe and Mail.

When they write and improvise their news segments – which feel like a mix of The Daily Show with a heavy dose of Christopher Guest mockumentary – Kelly, plays a lot of the small-town Canadian characters, while Oldring tends to specialize in more eccentric fringe-arts characters.

The live show will feature lots of the potshots at everyday Canada that the program’s regular listeners appreciate, such as the segment “Canadian entrepreneur finds international success selling firewood for $1,000 per bundle” and “Canadians react to new Hollywood movie claiming Neil Young was born in California.”

Nothing is off limits–politics, business, culture, justice, science; if it is relevant to Canadians, This Is That finds a way to fabricate a story. If you have ever been curious how just two guys provide all the voices for this completely improvised comedy, this is the show for you.

Tickets are available at the Confederation Centre box office or online at confederatiocentre.com. For more, visit cbc.ca/radio/thisisthat.

In and Out of the Shadows

Driven by a voice that evokes raw emotion, Rose Cousins’ music bravely explores the shadowy corners of the heart. Just as her songs embrace sadness, pain, and longing for all that love offers – its simplicity as well as its complexity – these are counterbalanced in her performances by Cousins’ quick, wry wit between songs.

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A native of PEI, she lives in Halifax, deeply values being part of multiple music communities and is constantly fueled by collaboration. Her 2012 album “We Have Made A Spark” won a JUNO Award, 3 East Coast Music Awards, and a Canadian Folk Music Award. Her 2014 EP, “Stray Birds,” among other meaningful covers, includes a moving interpretation of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” Her music has found its way into several TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Rookie Blue, Heartland & Drop Dead Diva.

Rose releases a new album ‘NATURAL CONCLUSION” in February 2017 – recorded with Grammy award-winning producer Joe Henry. This appearance at the Confederation Centre will be her PEI album release show and will feature a full band.

“Some voices hit you hard from first blush and this is one of them.” Exclaim!
“Stark, impeccably written songs … elegantly understated …” NOW Toronto ★★★★★

Rose Cousins is at the Homburg Theatre April 8th at 7:30 PM.