Tag Archives: Stephen Guy-McGrath

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

This summer’s mega-concert musical, Million Dollar Quartet is set to open at The Charlottetown Festival at Confederation Centre next week. Sponsored by Tim Horton’s, the most anticipated Island production of the year has been on fire at the box office all year and promises to wow theatregoers when the curtain lifts on June 14.

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 In December 1956, a 20 yr. old Jerry Lee Lewis, 21 yr. old Elvis Presley, 24 yr. old Johnny Cash, and 24 yr. old Carl Perkins stepped into the legendary Sun Record Studios under the direction of Sam Phillips and created an evening of musicianship that, by today’s standards, would have taken months to arrange and negotiate.

 “Imagine what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall and experienced that evening first-hand,” enthuses Director and Choreographer Tracey Flye. “The comradery, the competition, and the opportunity to get a private glimpse into the lives of these young men — out of the spotlight for a few precious hours and able to simply be themselves and revel in each other’s musical talents.”

 That is what Million Dollar Quartet promises — a momentary glimpse into these four extraordinary lives, under ordinary circumstances. Four young musicians unaffected by their public persona for an evening, able to play for the pure joy of playing. “How lucky are we that the producer and architect of that evening, Sam Phillips, had the foresight to make it all happen!? “ exclaims Flye.

 The cast includes Greg Gale (Cash), Matthew Lawrence (Elvis), Jefferson McDonald (Jerry Lee), Ed Murphy (Perkins), Alicia Toner (Dyanne), and Stephen Guy-McGrath (Sam Phillips). Additional accompaniment is provided by Trevor Grant (Fluke, the drummer) and Evan Stewart (Brother Jay Perkins, bass).

 Million Dollar Quartet is musically directed by Bob Foster, with sets and costumes from Corey Sincennes, lighting by Michael Walton, and sound design by Peter McBoyle. The original concept and direction is by Floyd Mutrux, with the book by Colin Escott and Mutrux. Adam Brazier is Artistic Director for The Charlottetown Festival.

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

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All In, and the Dog, Too

For five decades and counting, The Charlottetown Festival has always been a tight-knit community, and this year’s cast and company is no exception. Several family connections can be found across this summer’s playbill, including Mamma Mia! star Eliza-Jane Scott and her young son, Ducolon Banville, who joins her as a Child of Avonlea in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™. David Cotton, who plays husband-to-be Sky in Mamma Mia!, has enjoyed the summer alongside his actual wife, Sarah Vance in both mainstage productions. The Spoon River company featured two husband and wife teams: new ‘Islanders By Choice,’ Matt Campbell and Alicia Toner, as well as Brendan Wall and Mary Francis Moore.

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The greatest link however, connecting three productions and the summer and fall seasons, is the Guy-McGrath/Phillipson clan. Dora-Award winner Stephen Guy-McGrath splits his time playing Aussie funnyman Bill Anderson in Mamma Mia! and Cecil the Farmer in Anne™. Guy-McGrath is joined by daughter Eleanor Guy in Anne™ who plays his on-stage daughter. Guy-McGrath’s wife Melanie Phillipson also arrived on P.E.I. recently and begins rehearsals this month for the final production of the season, Belles Soeurs: The Musical, opening September 13.

“Coming to the Festival together really strengthens the feeling that already exists of the theatre being a family,” Guy-McGrath offers. “I love walking to work with Eleanor and having a little quiet time before the show. It’s nice to be able to talk to your kid about your work and passion — knowing that they understand it and feel the same way. At the theatre I really try to let her do her own thing. It makes me very proud as a father to watch her navigate a professional environment and display such maturity and discipline. Frankly she’s better behaved then I am!”

Adapted from Michel Tremblay’s internationally acclaimed novel, Belles Soeurs: The Musical is an English-language comedy with an all-female cast and comes to P.E.I. following sold-out runs at the Segal Centre and the NAC. “These beautifully-connected, diverse women share deep bonds rooted in decades of friendship but are also flawed and vulnerable,” Phillipson explains. “It has been so well-received in Montreal and Ottawa and it will be interesting to see how Islanders respond. There is no need to be fearful of anything ‘too French!’ Anyone with a mother, a fondness for storytelling with music, and a nostalgia for Bingo will most certainly enjoy this piece.”

Phillipson is reprising her role as Thérèse Dubuc, a comedic turn that includes caring for her elderly mother, Olivine, and in one unforgettable musical montage, recreating the drama of a Bingo game in slow motion with a giant ball in a hopper. Her past credits include several seasons with the Shaw Festival, as well as Tarragon, Drayton, and others.

“I love that my character is very ‘real’ and not vain or pretentious. I get to channel my grandmother from Saskatchewan who was a very strong-willed, hard-working, stubborn woman who made time for sewing, quilting, gossiping and playing Bingo,” she continues. “I love the aesthetic and era of this piece, 1960’s Montreal, and, truly, the whole 12-member ensemble is incredible.”

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