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.

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Mamma Mia! It’s the Official Opening Night!

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Mamma Mia! is terrific fun.

Review by Ben Brantley from The New York Times

Perhaps the single most ecstatic musical to open on Broadway since A Chorus Line. Mamma Mia! leaves you uplifted, enraptured and feeling like a number one!

Review by Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly

Mamma Mia! is a mega-hit that has audiences dancing in the aisles.

Review by Michael Kuchwara from Associated Press

This feel-good musical is a phenomenon! Audiences seeking escapist fun are returning night after night to relive the thrill!

Review by Roma Torre from NY1

The most fun on Broadway! Audiences are going wild!

Review by Liz Smith from Syndicated Columnist

Festival Completes Casting of Mamma Mia!

It’s an early start to the season for the cast and crew of The Charlottetown Festival. Rehearsals kicked off last week for the P.E.I. theatre event of the year — Mamma Mia!, opening June 1 in the Homburg Theatre.

Complete casting has been announced for the mega-musical, which stars Eliza-Jane Scott and Katie Kerr as a mother and daughter on the eve of Sophie’s wedding. Sophie (Kerr) wants her father to give her away, and having read her mother Donna’s diary, secretly invites three guests to the wedding, bringing back three men from Donna’s past to the paradise they last visited 20 years ago. The three gents are: Irish-American architect Sam Carmichael (Réjean Cournoyer), Australian adventurer Bill Anderson (Stephen Guy-
McGrath), and British banker Harry Bright (Cam MacDuffee).

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Local audiences are acquainted with all three, with Guy-McGrath appearing as the fiddle-playing René in last fall’s Evangeline and Cournoyer playing the villainous Hampson in that show as well as the White King in Alice Through the Looking-Glass. MacDuffee starred in Ring of Fire and Dear Johnny Deere, and toured with Cournoyer for the Centre’s 2015 production, The Founding Father.

Sophie’s husband-to-be, the loyal and handsome Sky, played by David Cotton (Baptiste in the world premiere of Evangeline), while Donna’s two best friends are brought to life by Jan Alexandra Smith and Nicola Dawn Brook. For the full Mamma Mia! cast list, see addendum.

For a limited time only, the Festival is offering 20% off performances in the month of June. Use promo code ABBA when contacting the box office online, in person, or via phone. This offer runs from May 21 to 28, applies to Tier-1 and 2 seating only, and is not valid with any other promotion.

“I have seen a lot of theatre in my short 41 years,” says Artistic Director, Adam Brazier. “Never have I seen a party and celebration the likes of Mamma Mia! This show redefined the modern musical and set in motion the success of other jukebox hits like Jersey Boys, We Will Rock You, and Ring of Fire. This pop fable leaves the audience laughing and dancing in the aisles. Somewhere in the crowd there’s you. Join us on a nostalgic journey through the guiltiest pleasure of the summer.” Brazier is joined by Bob Foster, musical director, and Kerry Gage, choreographer.

Mamma Mia! opens June 1 and plays until September 3.

The complete cast in alphabetical order is:

Jak Baradell – Ensemble
Josée Boudreau – Ensemble
Nicola Dawn Brook – Rosie
David Cotton – Sky
Réjean Cournoyer – Sam
Josh Doig – Male Swing
Jessica Gallant – Ensemble
Troy Goldthorp – Pepper
Robbie Graham-Kuntz – Ensemble
Stephen Guy-McGrath – Bill
Aaron Hastelow – Ensemble
Kayla James – Ensemble (U/S Sophie)
Aisha Jarvis – Lisa
Katie Kerr – Sophie
Melissa Kramer – The Priest
Cameron MacDuffee – Harry
Jamie Murray – Ensemble
Sarah O’Brecht – Ali
Jade Percival – Female Swing
Eliza-Jane Scott – Donna
Adam Sergison – Eddie
Jan Alexandra Smith – Tanya
Sarah Vance – Ensemble

Super Troupers Come Trooping

Additional casting has been revealed at The Charlottetown Festival for the international smash, Mamma Mia! Inspired by ABBA’s unforgettable collection of hits, the musical is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends and newfound family. The Festival recently announced Katie Kerr as Sophie and co-starring as her free-spirited mother is Dora-Award nominee Eliza-Jane Scott.

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Audiences will remember Scott for her 100-megawatt smile and delight as the White Queen in last year’s Alice Through The Looking-Glass and roles in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™. The Kingston, Ontario native has performed with Soulpepper Theatre Company, the First National and Canadian Tours of The Producers, and for Theatre 20, Stratford Festival, and more.

Donna owns a small hotel on a beautiful Greek island, and she is about to let go of the spirited daughter she has raised alone. For the wedding, Donna invites her two lifelong best girlfriends – practical and no-nonsense Rosie and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya – from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos. Sophie has secretly invited guests of her own however, bringing back three men from Donna’s past to the paradise they visited 20 years ago. Over 24 magical hours, new love blooms on this lush island full of possibilities.

“I am so excited to be back to play Donna,” exclaims Scott. “It’s so meta! This summer I am playing a woman who escapes to a beautiful island to make a living and support her family and here I am, a woman coming to beautiful P.E.I. to make a living and support my family! What? Am I the winner and did I just take it all? Yes Rose!”

Joining her as the Dynamos are Nicola Dawn Brook (Rosie) and Jan Alexandra Smith (Tanya). Smith co-starred in Alice last year as the Red Queen and has appeared in Anne™ in Charlottetown over multiple seasons as Miss Stacey, Mrs. Sloane, and Mrs. Spencer. The Toronto native has performed across Canada, including with the Shaw Festival, Theatre Calgary, Stage West, Theatre 20, and more. This marks Brook’s debut with the Festival, having recently played ‘Trish’ in Mirvish’s blockbuster Kinky Boots. She has also performed in her native U.K. on London’s West End and others with Prince of Wales, Victoria Palace, and Theatre Cymru, as well as film and TV roles in Sweeney Todd and The X-Factor.

Supported by production sponsor, Tim Horton’s, Mamma Mia! plays from June 1 to September 3, 2016 in the Homburg Theatre. Confederation Centre wishes to recognize CIBC as the returning title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival. The Centre also acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of P.E.I., through the Department of Education, Early Learning, and Culture, and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Katie Kerr Stars as Sophie

Over 60 million people around the world have fallen in love with the characters, story, and undeniably catchy music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good musical. Now Artistic Director Adam Brazier is turning to a Festival favourite of recent seasons – Katie Kerr – to play the lead role.

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Kerr, a veteran of five seasons at Confederation Centre, including two starring as Anne Shirley, will play bride-to-be Sophie in this summer’s must-see musical, directed by Brazier with musical direction from Bob Foster and choreography from Kerry Gage.

“It is always an honour to return to The Charlottetown Festival in any capacity, but I am especially thrilled to be one of the first girls in Canada to take on the role of Sophie this season,” says Kerr, from her new home in Charlottetown. “The Festival has been so integral to my career, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to star in yet another iconic show here.”

Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs, from ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘S.O.S.’ to ‘Take a Chance on Me,’ Mamma Mia! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends, and newfound family. The sunny tale that unfolds on a Greek island paradise where, on the eve of her wedding, Sophie’s quest to find her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love blooms and old romances are rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities.

For Katie Kerr, it’s exciting that the Festival is one of only two theatres in Canada credited to present the blockbuster since it closed on Broadway in 2015, and she looks forward to seeing where Brazier’s vision will take Mamma Mia!. “It’s so comforting to have an actor as intuitive as Adam on the other side of the table,” she offers. “You know that he is seeing everything, not only from a directorial position, but from the actor’s view as well. His ideas are fresh and forward thinking, which makes for a very exciting time at the Festival. I am so thankful to be a part of a company under his leadership.”

Kerr’s previous credits include Ring of Fire, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, Evangeline, and various roles in Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™, notably as the title heroine during the musical’s record-setting 50th season in 2014. “After embodying that role for two years, it becomes second nature,” she explains. “That experience continues to inspire me, in both my theatre work and my personal life. I am constantly finding fragments of Anne in everything I do.”

Confederation Centre wishes to recognize CIBC as the returning title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival. The Centre also acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of P.E.I., through the Department of Education, Early Learning, and Culture, and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Mamma Mia! is presented from June 1 to September 3, 2016 in the Homburg Theatre at the Centre.