December 12, 2016

Rockin’ Robyn By Cindy Lapeña

15326614_1387857807905520_3953750120893775736_n When I first heard of the production Robyn Hood from one of my students in Seniors College, I thought it sounded like quite a riot, considering the play had a cast of 75—Charlottetown’s version of a cast of thousands—and the script by Adam Brazier and Graham Putnam wove several stories together with contributions from the cast. One must certainly investigate a claim of that magnitude. After opening night at the Homburg Theatre, I can say with certainty the claim is completely true.
The Confederation Centre of the Arts kicked off the Christmas season with Robyn Hood, a comic musical adaptation of the legend of Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest, except this time, Robyn is a woman out to defeat the power-hungry Prince John of the Kingdom of Charlottetown. Maria Campbell, an alumna of the Confederation Centre Young Company, belted out a charmingly exuberant Robyn Hood supported all throughout by Friar Tuck, played Alana Bridgewater, whose powerful and lovely voice filled the theatre—the two were perfectly matched singing together. Not to be outdone was Maid Marian, played by Jessica Gallant, who matched the mood with her music as she tried to solve her dilemma: to betray or not to betray? Sarah MacPhee’s signature Town Crier role was resurrected yet once again and given the opportunity to rise in the ranks, thanks to Matt Rainnie’s dastardly pouting Prince John’s machinations. He was joined on stage by his two daughters in the Charlottetown ensemble impoverished by being taxed to the max by Prince John.
by Cindy Lapeña

by Cindy Lapeña

The numerous scenes offered multiple opportunities to shift around the cast of 75—filling the stage was certainly not a problem in this production. Although the production was not technically perfect, the minute slips here and there were easily covered up by the ribaldry and jokes that spared no one. A great deal of the humor, however, is strictly local and anyone who is not familiar with PEI culture might not understand why people were laughing. There was a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek wit throughout the play and even the songs were selected from a wide range of sources to provide a lively musical tapestry. Besides the occasional dancer with lower energy levels, the performance was bursting with rollicking fun. Garnett Gallant’s set design was just right and I wonder if anyone else picked up on the bit of irony with the Bundy clock, guitar, golf cart, and Maid Marian’s selfie during the wild chase through the Christmas-lit forest, not to mention the occasional hand microphone appearing on stage after Friar Tuck declared the play would bring us back to a time before cellphones, iPads, and Netflix! Deliberate or not, inconsistencies aside, it all added up to a great deal of fun that might have started a tad slow but certainly built up to a rousing end.

If you’re in for some Christmas cheer, this is just the performance to see!
October 27, 2016

Interview with Gina Mercer

gina-mercer-weaving-nestsRecently, Artists on the Island interviewed the Australian eco-poet, teacher, and editor Gina Mercer while she enjoyed a month-long tenure as a Visiting Writer in Residence at University of Prince Edward Island. In her latest collection of poems, titled Weaving Nests with Smoke and Stone (November 2015), Mercer’s publisher, Walleah Press, says she “reaches across the species divide, a boundary that daunts most of us,” while Siobhan Hodge, in Cordite Poetry Review, states the book “carefully explores love and loss, with an eye to the natural world for support, but also level-headed awareness of human responsibility.” She describes her work, her writing process, and much else to Jeff Bursey & PL Holden in this interview conducted by Artists on the Island. 

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October 20, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors Podcast & Ch’town Festival 2017 Playbill Announced!

 Peter Krauskopf, Steve Bruce, & Noah Nazim talk theatre with Kimberley Johnston!

lsoh-2016-picsHere’s a Hallowe’en treat for the Island: Little Shop of Horrors plays over the end-of-October weekend, staged by ACT (a community theatre) in the grand new Florence Simmons Performance Hall.

LITTLE SHOP of HORRORS, the famous musical comedy and sci-fi spoof, plays October 27 to 30 at the beautiful new Florence Simmons theatre (Weymouth Street, Charlottetown).  This is the first staging of a major theatre production in the wonderful new Florence Simmons Performance Hall of Holland College’s downtown campus, and the Hall has provided significant support.  A bar service will be offered at the evening performances.  A special feature of the Saturday and Sunday performances: a candy treat for audience members who come in a Hallowe’en costume (but no mask).

Evening performances (7:30) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday plus matinees (2:30) on Saturday and Sunday.  See ‘Audrey II’, the 2-metre-tall plant with attitude and appetite!  Tickets $28/25 online only, at  Information: ACT (a community theatre) ,, & tel:902-628-6778. There is no HST charge.  A portion of the price is contributed to Holland College’s Florence Simmons Scholarship fund.  Some tickets may be available at the door (if there is not a sell-out).


CHARLOTTETOWN FESTIVAL 2017: A Celebration of Rock, Laughter, and Canada’s 150th Anniversary

2017 playbill features East Coast premiere of Million Dollar Quartet; world premiere of A Misfortune; and return of Bittergirl: The Musical and Glenda’s Kitchen

(Charlottetown, P.E.I.) — Confederation Centre of the Arts has announced a dazzling lineup for next summer’s Charlottetown Festival, presented by CIBC. The 2017 Festival will run June 3 to September 24 and include the 53rd season of the international sensation Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™; the iconic rock ’n’ roll mega-concert Million Dollar Quartet; the return of two beloved Festival-spawned musicals, Bittergirl and Glenda’s Kitchen; and a new Young Company production that will tour the country.


Million Dollar Quartet is a hit musical inspired by the true story of the famed 1956 recording session in which producer Sam Phillips brought together the “godfathers of rock ‘n’ roll” – Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley – for one unforgettable jam session. Set in a Memphis studio, this story-and-song musical brings to light an extraordinary tale of broken promises, secrets, and a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of four friends that is both poignant and heartwarming. Featured are such hallmark hits as Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Fever, Great Balls Of Fire, Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, and many more.

Presented in rep with Quartet is the Island festival’s crown jewel, Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™. For the first time, the internationally acclaimed musical will be directed by Artistic Director Adam Brazier, leading a company of 23 amazing triple threats from across the nation. Having delighted more than 2.5 million people over 3,200 times at the Centre, Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™ remains the quintessential Canadian musical, and Brazier is thrilled to put his creative stamp on the iconic piece.

“2017 is a year to celebrate Canada and being Canadian, and this storied musical rests at the very heart of our national identity,” says Brazier. “Searching for love and belonging in a time of strife and strain, Anne represents all Canadians coming to this country, or those searching for light every day in their own trials.”

He continues, “Million Dollar Quartet is an electrifying true story perfectly built for our Homburg Theatre and our Island audience. Presley, Cash, Lewis, and Perkins — this is one unbelievable studio session that changed rock’n’roll forever.”

Back at The Mack is the howlingly funny cabaret show on getting over getting dumped — Bittergirl: The Musical. This Canadian-made comedy virtually sold out its entire run when first premiering at the Festival in 2015. Having now played Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre and headed for Winnipeg and a tour of British Columbia, it will return in 2017 with new songs and scenes, and the same great soundtrack of doo-wop favourites, including I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive, and Too Many Fish In The Sea.

Also playing The Mack, will be the world premiere of a new Canadian musical, A Misfortune. The story follows a young lawyer and a married woman in pre-revolutionary Russia on a walk through the woods; their friendship has reached an impasse. Soon they gather with three friends for a night in the country, discussing the inanity of their lives over an evening drink—and with each drink, more sordid secrets are revealed. Adapted from a short story by Anton Chekhov, one of the world’s most celebrated and enduring writers, A Misfortune is a romantic, bittersweet musical about small moments and momentous decisions.

Returning to the intimate Studio 1 theatre is Glenda’s Kitchen offering curious patrons a taste of the Island, literally and culturally! Festival icon, Glenda Landry and The Charlottetown Festival Orchestra lead this charming musical, exploring the many bounties of P.E.I.’s people, deep-seated traditions, and world-famous food. This afternoon cabaret is a must-see for Islanders and travelers alike and will feature new tunes and tales from Glenda and cast.

The Centre has already announced a new national touring production for the Young Company — Dream Catcher. With support from the Canada 150 Fund, the Centre will engage youth from across the country to create a new musical inspired by their dreams for Canada’s future. Around 20 young professional artists, who reflect the country’s cultural diversity, will be cast in two Young Companies – one touring and one on P.E.I., supported by TD. Participants will meet with Indigenous artists who will speak to them about the symbolic importance of dreamcatchers in their cultures. Small dreamcatchers will be created and integrated into an immense visual that will be on display outdoors at the Centre in 2017.

“We are thrilled for the 2017 Young Company to hit the national stage to celebrate the dreams of our nation’s founders, those of our youth, and those of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada, with a Canada-wide tour and original musical theatre project,” says Jessie Inman, CEO. “Continuing our long history of national touring, Dream Catcher will seize the momentum of Canada’s sesquicentennial and engage young people from every province and territory, channeling their bold hopes and dreams for our nation’s future.”

Additional announcements will be made in November centering on more special anniversary programming for Canada’s 150th birthday, held across the Centre and including visual arts and heritage programming. See addendum for full show calendar for the Festival.


The Charlottetown Festival is presented by CIBC. 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.

N.B. The Pick 3 Pass is back!  Pick three Charlottetown Festival shows and pay only $129. The Pick 3 Pass and Festival tickets go on sale to members of CCOA October 20. Public tickets go on sale October 22. Patrons can choose three shows from all those listed below, excluding Dream Catcher —

  • Million Dollar Quartet: June 15 – September 23 (1:30/8pm). Previews: June 15 & June 16 | Opening June 17 – Homburg Theatre.
  • Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™: June 26 – September 23 (1:30 pm/ 7:30 pm). Previews: June 26, June 27, June 30 | Opening July 1 at 1:30 pm – Homburg Theatre.
  • Bittergirl: The Musical: July 5 – Aug 26 (7:30 pm). Previews: July 5, July 6 | Opening July 7 – The Mack.
  • Glenda’s Kitchen: July 13 – September 1 (1:30 pm). No Previews | Opening July 13 – Studio 1.
  • A Misfortune: September 7 – September 22 (7:30 pm). Previews: September 7, Sep 8 | Opening September 9 – The Mack.
  • Dream Catcher – Confederation Centre Young Company: June 21 – August 19 (12 noon) – Outdoor Amphitheatre.


October 12, 2016

Bruce McCallum Interview. Plus, Playwrights Cabaret & Writer’s Guild Open Mic Info

b-mccallum-didw-coverBruce McCallum  is a budding novelist who retired as a forestry journalist and bioenergy consultant in 2011. He was born in northwest Ontario, educated in Winnipeg & has made his home in Prince Edward Island since 1977. After retirement in 2011, Bruce turned to creative writing. He has written a history book: Memories of the Chukuni Lumber Company, (2013); a murder-mystery novel (not yet published); a novella: Death in the Doach Woods, (2015) and many short stories, both memoir and fiction. He recently acted as the editor and project coordinator for a short story anthology: White Lightning and Other Stories from The Writers in Group (TWIG).

Recently he spoke with PL Holden and Jeff Bursey for Artists on the Island about his latest work, a murder mystery set in Scotland entitled Death in the Doach Woods, which was published by Selkirk Stories, and is his first novella. They also talked about his TWiG (the Writers in Group) anthology, Crazy Winter Driving Stories, which is a work-in-progress which he aims to publish in the near future.

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Come celebrate the work of  P.E.I playwrights!

14494708_1106121292786987_8790483125410162926_nThe second annual Playwrights’ Cabaret is being hosted by the P.E.I. wing of PARC (Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre) on Thursday October 13th , 7 pm at Local 343 located at 98 Water Street in Charlottetown.

Come have a meal or drink and listen to readings by some of our own talented playwrights,including Laura K. Bird, Jeff Bursey, Yvette Doucette, Rob MacLean, Katherine McCallum, Malcolm Murray, Marlane O’Brien and J.J. Steinfeld.

The Cabaret is hosted by P.E.I. PARC board members Kathleen Hamilton and Melissa Mullen; intermission with cash food and bar service. Admission is by donation.

If you are a playwright (or an aspiring one) we also invite you to join our membership, when we meet bi-monthly for our informal Playwrights’ Pub. It’s a great opportunity to get to know other writers, talk about the craft of play writing and take part in reading scripts together.

For more information about the Cabaret or the Playwrights’ Pub contact Melissa Mullen at 902-962-2235 or To learn more about PARC go to

Open Mic with Julie Pellisier-Lush

The PEI Writers’ Guild will host Julie Pellisier-Lush as its featured reader at the second Open Mic to be held on Thursday, October 13th from 7:00-9:00 at Receiver Coffee on Victoria Row (128 Richmond Street).

14670832_1829481690620493_6832032620014270469_nAll are welcome to this free event. The first ten writers to sign up may read from their work – poetry or prose – for 3 to 5 minutes. Following a short break, Julie will read.

Julie Pellissier-Lush, actress and bestselling author of ‘My Mi’kmaq Mother’, was born in Summerside, PEI in 1970. She grew up all over Eastern Canada and spent a number of years in Winnipeg, Manitoba before coming home. Julie graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2000. She works with young families at the Mi’kmaq Family Resource Centre and was Vice President of the Aboriginal Women’s Association for four terms. She writes, acts, and does photography to preserve the history and culture of the Mi’kmaq for future generations. Julie lives in PEI with her husband Rick, her five children, and her granddaughter Miah.

The Open Mic Series will continue to run on the second Thursday of each month.

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