Tag Archives: Professional Theatre Network of PEI

Sold Out! at the Harbourfront

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are world-class musicians with their hearts firmly rooted in their rural village home. Natalie grew up in rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where her parents still live in the home she was born in. She is a globally acclaimed fiddle player who has appeared on numerous CBC, CTV and PBS TV shows and sold over 200,000 albums.

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Donnell is part of a multi-generation beef farming family, born and raised on the Leahy family farm in Lakefield, Ontario. As the incendiary musical leader of double Platinum– selling, festival–headlining Celtic family group Leahy, he refined his mesmerizingly strident, exultant, and high-energy performances which have become his musical signature.

Be transported by this fierce fiddling duo as Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy command the stage with an explosive celebration of raw energy and passion that infuses their traditional heritage with their taste for the contemporary.

The Saturday July 2nd show at the Harbourfront Theatre has sold out!

Island Strong Anne Opens

The curtain lifted last night at 7:30 p.m. on an especially Island-strong edition of the long-running musical Anne of Green Gables. Jessica Gallant of Ten Mile House, P.E.I. stars as the world-famous orphan, with Charlottetown’s Hank Stinson and Aaron Hastelow as Matthew Cuthbert and Gilbert Blythe. This marks the first time an Islander has played Gilbert in the historic production, and thus the first time both romantic leads have been played by locals.

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Festival veteran Marlane O’Brien, of Crapaud, P.E.I. plays iconic busy-body, Miss Rachel Lynde, while Dora Award-winner Charlotte Moore reprises her turn as Marilla Cuthbert. New Island home-owner Katie Kerr returns to the role that first brought her to the Festival, as Diana Barry, and another Festival favourite and ‘Islander-by-choice’, Josée Boudreau debuts as Miss Stacey.

The creative team that brought the Guinness Record-holding musical to life last season has returned in 2016, with Wade Lynch in the director’s chair alongside Musical Director Bob Foster and Choreographer Robin Calvert.

“With a history that has enjoyed success under some of the country’s greatest directors, and that has benefited from the talents of legions of actors, musicians, designers, technicians, and theatre artisans of every stripe, it is no small task to approach a new season with the responsibility of maintaining the high standards of previous productions while attempting to bring something new to the play and the story,” says Lynch, who performed in many seasons of the beloved musical himself.

“That said, we must never treat our production as an antique; Anne is new every time the curtain goes up,” he continues. “When Anne Shirley arrives at Bright River she is not only encountering the possibility of a new family, she is entering a whole new world. As theatre artists it is our challenge and our responsibility to present a musical theatre experience that is new for every performance. With the tremendous talents and abilities of our 2016 company, you can be certain that the Anne of Green Gables experience our audiences enjoy this summer is brand spanking new!”

Anne of Green Gables plays select dates until August 27. 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., and the City of Charlottetown for continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Lions and Bears and Foxes, Oh My!

Vancouver’s Lion Bear Fox will open the Victoria Playhouse Musical Mondays on July 4. Originally known for their respective solo careers, Christopher Arruda, Ryan McMahon and Cory Woodward joined forces as Lion Bear Fox in 2012 and were immediately selected as one of the top 20 unsigned bands British Columbia (Peak Performance Project).

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The fall of 2013 saw the band release their self-produced breakthrough EP “We’d Be Good Men” and take Western Canada by storm, touring 15 times over the next two years including stops at Canadian Music Week (Toronto), Contact East (PEI), OSAC (Regina) Mission Folk Festival and The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. Terry David Mulligan with The Nanaimo Daily News called the group “a musical force of nature” and “emotional awakening”.

With the help of friend and producer Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run), the trio spent ten days in the Vancouver Island wilderness crafting “the record of their lives” –  a collection of songs steeped in character and full of warmth.  One part folk, one part rock – a pinch of gospel and a dash of growl, the self-titled LP is a testament to the trio’s strength as songwriters.

“All three artists are known for the passion they bring to their performances and the honest songs they write,” writes the Ladysmith Chronicle, “and they have succeeded in creating gripping, dynamic songs while capturing a sincerity rarely heard this side of the 2000’s.

For tickets call the Playhouse box office at 1.800.925.2025 or visit the Victoria website at http://www.victoriaplayhouse.com.

Linda Tweel Portrait Joins Harris Collection

The Collections Committee at Confederation Centre recently accepted a large 1887 portrait, painted by Robert Harris, for the Art Gallery’s extensive Harris Collection.

The oil on canvas painting was gifted to the Centre in memory of Linda Tweel, to recognize the many contributions she made throughout her lifetime in the fields of education, culture, and community affairs. Linda Tweel was an early member of the Woman’s Committee of Confederation Centre of the Arts, and served as Chair of the Friends of Confederation Centre for several years.

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Gallery Director, Kevin Rice welcomed the addition. “It is always exciting to have collectors offer interesting works for the Collection; the support of donors like Mr. Tweel is critical in building a Canadian art collection in Charlottetown,” said Rice. “With this gift we see a continuation of support for Confederation Centre from the Linda Tweel family.”

Since the Art Gallery began collecting in 1964, its holdings have grown to over 17,000 items including a comprehensive research collection and archive on the works of Charlottetown-raised Robert Harris (1849-1919),  a painter of the iconic group portrait, The Fathers of Confederation.

Music Series Catches Fire at the Watermark

Watermark Announces Music Series Programming

Watermark Theatre is pleased to announce our 2016 Classic Music Reignited Programming for the summer season. This year we have an all Canadian lineup of classic composers that our Island artists will be interpreting in their own special way.

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July 24th, 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Buffy Saint Marie & Bruce Cockburn
Performed by: Mike Mooney, Beck Sisters

August 7th, 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Leonard Cohen & Gordon Lightfoot
Performed by: Chas Guay, Amanda Jackson Band

August 21st 2016 7:30PM – The Music of Guess Who & Bryan Adams
Performed by: Tian Wigmore, Nathan Wiley

Headliners:

The Beck Sisters- It’s hard to beat the harmonic intuition of sisters. Amy & Rachel Beck began singing together around the family piano in Montague, PEI. They now share their pop-tinged folk with eager audiences in Canada and beyond. “Their music is stripped down to just the vocals and guitar, but when you sound like this, that’s all you need.” (CBC Music)

Amanda Jackson Band- What do you get when you combine one of the most powerfully mesmerizing voices on the East Coast blues scene with a creative force of musical accompaniment by Dale McKie on guitar/harmonica and Todd MacLean on piano/guitar/saxophone? You get a captivating blend of original adult alternative/folk/blues music that goes straight to your soul, makes your spirit soar, and makes you feel connected to where you need to be.

Nathan Wiley- Multiple ECMA and Music PEI award winning artist Nathan Wiley splits his time these days between recording new material and producing including an ECMA winning record for Gordie MacKeeman & his Rhythm Boys. In July, Nathan released “Bandits”, his first collection of original material in 7 years.

Supporting acts:

Mike Mooney- Mike Mooney has been a mainstay of PEI’s music scene for decades as part of bands including Touch and Gone, the Dogs and Birdhouse. He’s recorded vocals for many Island artists with an uncanny knack for finding that perfect harmony.

Chas Guay- As an established first-call bassist, Chas has performed with Mick Taylor of Rolling Stones fame, Doug Riley, Gene MacLellan, Dr. Hook, Nathan Wiley, Lennie Gallant, Mae Moore, Don Ross/Brooke Miller and countless others. Chas has 2 albums to his credits and has won both ECMA and Music PEI awards including Male Vocalist of the year and Musician of the Year.

Tian Wigmore- Tian has been a much sought-after musician serving as touring and recording session guitarist and vocalist for many of Canada’s best artists including Big Sugar, The Trews, Tim Chaisson, In Flight Safety, and Andy Brown. His unique vocal stylings are powerful and recognizable in an instant. After 11 years, he needed a platform of his own, and “War Horses” was born. Tian has released one album under the name War Horses and received the 2016 Music PEI award for Best New Artist.

All tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://www.watermarktheatre.com or by calling 902-963-3963.

Annekenstein Rises Again

After 19 years Annekenstein & Friends is returning to The Guild stage to take back its crown as PEI’s favourite sketch comedy show. Created by Rob MacDonald (Sketch-22, The Popalopalots), the stage show grew from cult favourite to mainstream success by poking fun at all things “Island” during its initial 7-year run.

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Annekenstein & Friends plays Saturday nights at The Guild from July 2nd – August 20th.

Spoon River, Magical, Musical Theatre

Albert Schultz & Charlottetown’s Mike Ross bring acclaimed production to The Mack.

For Mike Ross, Spoon River felt like a show he’d been preparing to compose his whole life. A resident artist with Soulpepper Theatre Company, and now music director, it took a brief encounter with Artistic Director Albert Schultz to connect the Island native with a 100-year-old text that would soon change his life.

After wrapping a meeting for another project, Schultz tossed Ross an old copy of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. The collection of free-verse poems was written in 1915, and each poem is a kind of extended epitaph for townsfolk in the fictional community of Spoon River, Illinois.

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“Spoon River is an incredibly theatrical collection of stories. It’s about the full spectrum of life, a theme that always resonates with me,” offers Schultz, an accomplished actor and director, and Member of the Order of Canada. “It’s relatable and human; there’s vice and violence but also wonder and glory, and nature and love. As soon as I read it, I knew that Mike would be the one to set it to music.”

“I had never heard of it,” recalls Ross, co-adaptor, composer, and musical director for the production, opening July 6 at The Mack. “I was immediately inspired by the range of voices and stories from these people sharing their loves, losses, regrets, and triumphs. It is truly a timeless study of small town life in all of its richness and eccentricity, and it is perfect for the stage.”

The Soulpepper production would go on to win Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards for Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical and Dora Awards for Outstanding New Musical and Outstanding Musical Direction. Now the production is taking root at The Mack, and is again directed by Schultz. Featuring a stacked cast of 11 performers who double as on-stage musicians – including Matt Campbell, Alicia Toner, Sandy Winsby, and Alana Bridgewater – this rousing hootenanny is grounded in roots and old time music, calling to mind the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?

“The way we present Spoon River places audiences right in the show’s community: you recognize these characters, especially if you’re from a small town,” continues Schultz. “And bringing the play to Charlottetown and to the intimate Mack space encourages this immersive experience. We’re thrilled to share this original Canadian work for the first time outside of Toronto, and with such an exceptional cast of Canadian artists.”

For Ross, this also represents a powerful full circle back to the city and the Festival where he got his start, performing in Fire! and Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™. “Bringing Masters’ vibrant characters to life with this group of gifted performers is unforgettable, as is having that energy connect with audiences — the most important people in the theatre at any moment,” he says. “In this show, everyone plays a part: you, the audience, have been cast in the role of ‘passerby.’ And to have that role played by people from the town in which I was born, is one of the great honours of my life.”

Spoon River is produced by The Charlottetown Festival, in association with Soulpepper Theatre Company. The musical opens July 6, and plays select dates until August 20 at The Mack, a part of Confederation Centre.