Tag Archives: Homburg Theatre

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
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Mamma Mia is Back!

A mother, a daughter, three possible dads; and a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Back to the Festival by popular demand, it’s Mamma Mia!

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This sunny ABBA-driven tale follows Donna, an independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on a Greek island. She is about to let go of Sophie, the spirited daughter she has raised alone. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best friends – practical and no-nonsense Rosie, and wealthy, multi-divorcée Tanya – from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos; however, after reading her mother’s diary, Sophie secretly invites three guests of her own. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Greek paradise they last visited two decades ago. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love will bloom and old romances will be rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities!

Presented as a co-production with the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

Sensitivity Warning: Strobe lighting, haze and fog effects are used in this production


ARTISTIC TEAM
Director, Adam Brazier; Music Director, Craig Fair; Choreographer, Lisa Stevens; Associate Music Director, David Theriault; Costume & Scenic Designer, Cory Sincennes; Lighting Designer, Michael Walton; Sound Designer, Peter McBoyle; Production Stage Manager, Matt MacInnis.

MUSIC & LYRICS BY Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, and some songs with Stig Anderson; BOOK BY Catherine Johnson; Mamma Mia! was originally produced in London by Judy Craymer, Richard East, and Bjorn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal; Additional materials and arrangements Martin Koch; Music published by Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Grove Park Music Inc., EMI Waterford Music.

Mamma Mia! is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com.

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 Hits the Homburg

Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical opens June 21 at Confederation Centre

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“To be or not to be” is the most famous question in all of drama. And it is around this central question that the history of Kronborg–The Hamlet Rock Musical hangs upon.

And like Hamlet returning to Denmark, this celebrated Canadian musical is returning to The Charlottetown Festival, 45 years since it was first produced here. Sponsored by SYSCO Food Services the production runs June 28 to July 20—just 15 nights—in the Homburg Theatre at Confederation Centre of the Arts. Preview performances are slated for June 21 and June 27.

Cliff Jones, the musical’s creator, is excited to see the show take on a new life. “This talented company and this theatre will be incredible for Kronborg,” he muses, “and I’ve also gotten the chance to tweak little things that have nagged me for years.”

The electrifying rock production has been revived by Director Mary Francis Moore and Music Director Craig Fair, as well as the talented Festival cast, crew, and orchestra. But it was a winding road back to Charlottetown and the world-renowned Festival.

First commissioned as a CBC radio play in 1973, the original title was Kronborg: 1582, named for the Danish castle and year Shakespeare’s original revenge tragedy takes place.Jones’ inspiration came from when he first heard the Jesus Christ  Superstar soundtrack, which married anthemic rock music with rich storytelling. It is a curious symmetry that the Kronborg remount follows last summer’s Superstar as the next “big Festival show” here on the Centre mainstage. Both productions also star Island son, Aaron Hastelow.

After the original radio production in 1973, the play moved to the stage at Confederation Centre. Its first staging at the Festival in 1974 was an absolute hit leading to an eastern Canadian tour with Brent Carver as Hamlet and Beverly D’Angelo as Ophelia. In the following years Jones and other directors would tackle this production through diverse variations. These included a month-long Broadway engagement as Rockabye Hamlet (1976), and a 14-month run in L.A. in the early ‘80s as Something’s Rockin in Denmark.

Then, the play was put to rest.

It wasn’t until years later when Jones crossed paths with Adam Brazier—the Centre’s artistic director—that Kronborg was given a new lease on life and was turned into a concert performance at the Historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River, P.E.I. in 2017. Jones came back to Charlottetown while recovering from a serious health scare with Legionnaire’s disease. “The disease had quickly destroyed me,” he recalls, “I was delirious, could hardly recognize my daughters, was lethargic, and battling depression.”

When the Kronborg writer came in for rehearsals it gave him a new purpose. “I saw what they were doing with this incredible company and with Craig Fair’s new arrangements and musical direction. It made my life worth living again; it renewed me.”

Jones recalls the sold-out Indian River concert—with full company and an orchestra—as thrilling. Indeed, a Buzz review described the rock opera as “spectacular and electrifying…Aaron Hastelow shone brightly as Hamlet.”

For Jones, he pondered, “Can it get any better than this?” It turns out it certainly can. The new show is set to run for 15 nights this summer on the main stage.

When asked what endures about Kronborg all these years later, the writer offers “It’s always carried a special combination of being a fun, entertaining experience but also being faithful to Shakespeare’s story—to thine own self be true.”

New life for the writer and his storied musical awaits at this year’s Festival.

The full artistic team for Kronborg: The Hamlet Rock Musical is listed online. 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. The Charlottetown Festival is sponsored by CIBC.

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

Showcasing Steps in Time

dance umbrella Set To Showcase A Year’s Work With ‘Steps in Time: The Sequel’

Annual showcases take place Saturday, May 4 at 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. in the Homburg Theatre

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A cherished spring tradition returns next week: dance umbrella’s end-of-year showcases at Confederation Centre of the Arts. These spirited presentations present the amazing results of a year’s worth of training for beginning and emerging dance and musical theatre talent. The matinee showcases P.E.I.’s junior and elementary classes while the evening features the intermediate, teen, senior and adult students.

This year, Confederation Centre celebrate 30 years of dance umbrella, founded by Peggy Reddin and Julia Sauvé. dance umbrella’s first ever year-end performance showcase was entitled Steps in Time, held back in 1989 at the Mack, and this year students will perform Steps in Time: The Sequel. As the company grew, it became an official part of Confederation Centre’s suite of arts education programs, joining in 2005.

The public is invited to come out and celebrate this outstanding dance program that has helped build dance and movement skills, self-confidence, and creativity in thousands of young Islanders for three decades.

“It has been a joy to work with such talented and dedicated students and instructors over the years,” offers Reddin, now the director of Arts Education at the Centre. “As we look back, we feel a great sense of pride in the positive impact we have had on so many lives and we look forward to continuing to instill a love for dance in the young and not-so-young!”

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.  dance umbrella is a proud part of the Arts Education Portfolio at Confederation Centre. For more information, please visitconfederationcentre.com/artseducation

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

Man With a Suitcase

Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada Presents ALIEN*

| Homburg Theatre

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CHOREOGRAPHY: Igor Dobrovolskiy
Join the international dancers of Atlantic Ballet Canada for Igor Dobrovolskiy compelling contemporary ballet Alien. ALIEN is an intimate exploration of the human side of immigration. As a newcomer to Canada in 2000, Igor understands well the many challenges that new immigrants face when they leave their home in search of new life. What happens when you leave your home behind? What happens when you are out of context? What happens when you lose your identity?Alien is part of the PEI Immigration Summit.

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

Never Snowed In On Saturday Nights

Snowed in Comedy Tour

| Homburg Theatre

The Snowed In Comedy Tour has turned in to a Canadian success story, celebrating its
eleventh year. In a market still dominated by American acts with American TV credits a
small Canadian comedy tour has managed to succeed.

 

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Like the Tragically Hip they have done it by touring and making more and more people laugh year after year.  The tour has now performed in Australia, The US, France, and Switzerland. The 2018 tour received numerous Standing Ovations and was the most successful to date. It has now grown to become the biggest comedy tour in Canada. Playing in 65 cities this year coast to coast.

Four international comedians come together to create one amazing show with each bringing a unique and hilarious take providing something for everyone. Just for Laughs winner Dan Quinn returns as well as the Great Canadian Laugh Off winner, Paul Myrehaug. 5 time Canadian Comedian of the year nominee Pete Zedlacher is back.

We are proud to announce that Debra DiGiovanni, 3 time female comedian of the year and from Video on Trial, will be joining us. Don’t miss out on the comedy show called “Better than the Just for Laughs Tour” and “Delivers a Flurry of Laughs”.

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

March Into the Centre This March

March Into The Centre This Spring Break!

Magical performances and enthralling art camps on deck, March 16-22


There is plenty on offer for ‘stay-cationers’ keeping it local this March Break. Confederation Centre of the Arts is staging a night of wonder from world-renowned magician Justin Flom on Saturday, March 16 as well as a week’s worth of fun visual arts classes for kids in the Gallery.

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Justin Flom has toured the world and performed on marquee programs such as Ellen, The Today Show, and the late night talk show circuit. From touring and collaborating with superstars like Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, and Nick Jonas, Flom finds himself in front of as diverse an audience range as any entertainer out there today.

The Las Vegas native has the ability to entertain anyone, anywhere, and is bringing his act for all ages to the Centre for a night of illusions and wonder! Presented as part of Sobeys LIVE @ the Centre the magician hits the Homburg Theatre on March 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Following the entertainment on the stage, it’s time to explore the visual arts! The Confederation Centre Art Gallery’s mARTch Break Camp in the Schurman Family Studio presents a chance for children explore the inspiring world of visual arts. These hands-on art activities are offered in many mediums–encouraging critical thinking and visual literacy through tours of the current exhibitions in the Gallery.

Taking place from March 18 to 22, these low-barrier activities are perfect for ages 6 to 12! For more information, contact Tamara Steele at artseducation@confederationcentre.com.

For Justin Flom’s Homburg Theatre performance, special thanks are extended to Sobeys, the title sponsor for LIVE @ the Centre! Media sponsors are The Guardian, Ocean 100, and Hot 105.5. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office, via phone at 1 (800)565-0278, or online athttps://boxoffice.confederationcentre.com.

Prince Edward Island Theatre Network

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