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New Canadian musical, smash-hit comedy set for The 2023 Charlottetown Festival

December 1, 2022 – The world premiere production of an original Canadian musical, a smash-hit comedy, a pair of cabarets, and family-friendly performances make up The 2023 Charlottetown Festival lineup, revealed today at Confederation Centre of the Arts.

“The 2023 Festival is full of stories of resilience, inspiration, empowerment, and lots of laughter,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director of performing arts at the Centre. “The lineup includes a new Canadian musical, celebrates a variety of performance styles and theatrical forms, and features lots of local talent.”

Coming to the Centre’s Sobey Family Theatre in June is the world premiere production MAGGIE. Sponsored by The Gray Group Real Estate & Development, the new Canadian musical tells the inspirational tale of a fiery school cleaner living in the mining town of Lanarkshire, Scotland. After suffering an unthinkable loss, she must rely on her strength, sense of humour, and fiercely loyal group of friends to raise her boys and protect them from the harsh and ever-changing world around them.

Johnny Reid, co-creator of MAGGIE.

Set in post-war Scotland, the heartfelt show features a soul-stirring score by award-winning recording artist Johnny Reid, a Scot who immigrated to Canada as a teenager. The musical is based on the true story of his grandmother. “MAGGIE celebrates not only my Gran and her life, but also an entire generation of women who fought through some tough times by keeping faith, hope, love, family, friendship, and humour close to heart,” says Reid. “It reminds us that joy and laughter can be found, even in the darkest of times.”

The production’s music is written by Reid, Matt Murray, and Bob Foster – who co-created the Festival’s 2022 musical Tell Tale Harbour. It will be directed by fellow Scot and the Festival’s former associate artistic director Mary Francis Moore, who is the artistic director of Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, ON, where the musical will premiere before its run in Charlottetown. MAGGIE is produced in association with Johnny Reid and Michael Rubinoff, the originating producer of Come From Away.

Also at the Sobey Family Theatre in 2023 is The Play That Goes Wrong, an award-winning smash-hit comedy that has taken over Broadway and London’s West End. The Sherlock Holmes meets Monty Python production is a play within a play, telling the story of a failing theatre troupe trying to put on a murder mystery. Directed by Herbie Barnes, the show is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania that delivers fun for all ages.

The show is set during the opening night of the fictitious play The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), this masterpiece of malfunction is sure to bring down the house. The Play That Goes Wrong has garnered rave reviews from around the world, with HuffPost calling it, “the funniest play Broadway has ever seen.”

The Songs of Johnny & June. Melissa MacKenzie, Jacob Hemphill. Photo by Colton Curtis.

The Festival’s lineup also features two cabaret shows. After playing packed houses on a tour of the Maritimes, The Songs of Johnny & June returns to The Mack. Directed by Islander Rebecca Parent, the energetic show celebrates the lives and songs of Johnny Cash and June Carter, country music’s most iconic couple. The biographical performance follows the legendary pair’s storied relationship through renowned songs, like “Jackson”, “Folsom Prison”, and “Ring of Fire”. It stars P.E.I. powerhouse duo Jacob Hemphill and Melissa MacKenzie accompanied by a rockstar band.

Also at The Mack is I’m Every Woman, a revue of iconic music that changed the world. Directed by Robin Calvert, the cabaret will feature five powerhouse vocalists performing empowering songs from legendary women. The show travels through several decades of hit music, with songs from Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Chaka Khan, Taylor Swift, and more.

Family-friendly programming returns to the Outdoor Amphitheatre, sponsored by TD Ready Commitment. Back by popular demand, the high-energy show Munschables will bring a new selection of stories from beloved children’s author Robert Munsch to life through an interactive and musical performance. This year, the cast of Munschables will be made up entirely of Islanders.

The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors also return to the Outdoor Amphitheatre with the new show Mi’kmaq Stories of Rabbit and His Friends, a fun performance for all ages that shares the history of the Mi’kmaq people through stories, songs, and beautiful traditional dance.

Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors. Photo by Simon Reid.

Admission to these noon hour performances is free, with donations welcome. “Prince Edward Island is full of diverse local talent, and it is important to showcase that in an accessible way,” says Dawn Ward, the Festival’s associate artistic director. “Gathering at the Outdoor Amphitheatre has become a summer staple for the community, and I am excited for Islanders to see themselves reflected on stage.”

Tickets for The 2023 Charlottetown Festival are on sale now to Confederation Centre members, and to the public on December 3. Patrons who are not yet Confederation Centre members can sign up now to gain early access to festival tickets.

Ticket sales for the Festival kick off with a 2-for-1 deal on select performances. The sale runs now through December 10 with the promo code ‘festival23’. Tickets can be purchased online at confederationcentre.com, via phone at 1-800-565-0278, or in person at the Centre’s box office. Visit the website for all sale terms and conditions.

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Photo cutlines:
Dharma Bizier as Maggie on the Johnny Reid Love Someone Tour 2022. Photo by Mike Peleshok.
Melissa MacKenzie and Jacob Hemphill, The Songs of Johnny & June. Photo by Colton Curtis.
The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors. Photo by Simon Reid.

Media Contact: Emily McMahon, Communications Manager, Confederation Centre of the Arts
emcmahon@confederationcentre.com | 902-628-6135

THE 2023 CHARLOTTETOWN FESTIVAL AT A GLANCE

SOBEY FAMILY THEATRE

The Play That Goes Wrong
A Hilarious Whodunit
By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields
Directed by Herbie Barnes
June 14 – September 23 (Previews June 14, 15, 20; Opens June 24)

MAGGIE
A New Musical
Music by Johnny Reid, Matt Murray, Bob Foster. Book and lyrics by Johnny Reid, Matt Murray.
Direction and Dramaturgy by Mary Francis Moore. Music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements by Bob Foster.
June 21 – September 2 (Previews June 21, 22; Opens June 23)

THE MACK

I’m Every Woman
A Radical Revue
Directed by Robin Calvert. Choreographed by Dawn Ward. Music direction and arrangements by Bob Foster.
July 3 – September 22 (Previews July 3, 4; Opens July 7)

The Songs of Johnny & June
A Kitbag Theatre Production
Created by Jacob Hemphill. Directed by Rebecca Parent. Musical directions arrangements by Melissa MacKenzie.
July 6 – September 2 (Previews July 6; Opens July 10)

OUTDOOR AMPHITHEATRE

Mi’kmaq Stories of Rabbit and His Friends
Created and performed by The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors
June 27 – July 8 (Previews June 27; Opens June 28)

Munschables
Adapted by Adam Brazier. Directed by Adam Brazier and Dawn Ward. Choreographed by Dawn Ward.
July 11 – August 26 (Previews July 11, Opens July 12)

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What are Relaxed Performances?

 

Sometimes referred to as sensory-friendly experiences, Relaxed Performances give the opportunity for those with various sensitivities towards sensory stimuli to experience and enjoy live theatre.

These performances will be designed in a way to be more comfortable for audience members who may experience anxiety or are not comfortable with some aspects of a traditional theatre setting. This can include people on the Autism Spectrum and their families; those with sensory and communicative disorders or learning disabilities; people with Tourette’s syndrome; someone who might need to move often due to chronic pain or to use the facilities; or even parents with toddlers.

 

 

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