The Centre for All Canadians

The Charlottetown Festival Celebrates the Life of Founding Member Fen Watkin

The Confederation Centre of the Arts community is mourning the passing of Joseph Fenwick “Fen” Watkin, O.C. 

Watkin was a founding member of the team that brought Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ to life in 1965 and was a driving force within The Charlottetown Festival for more than 40 years. Watkin passed away Thursday in Toronto. He was 96 years young.

“Fen will always be remembered for his kindness and humour,” offers Adam Brazier, artistic director of Confederation Centre. “His love of music and storytelling kept him engaged in the theatre throughout his celebrated life. He was a blessing to everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.” 

Joseph Fenwick “Fen” Watkin was a virtuoso pianist and a highly accomplished arranger, conductor, and musical director involved in more than 200 original Canadian productions. He served for 12 years as associate music director of The Charlottetown Festival and 28 years as music director, spanning more than four decades from 1965 to the late 2000s.

The Toronto Symphony, CBC variety shows, and countless community theatre projects also benefitted from Watkin’s talents. As a mentor and coach he inspired generations of amateur and professional performers. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2005 for his considerable contribution to musical theatre.

Dean Constable, general manager of theatre at the Centre, fondly remembers Watkin, with whom he collaborated during the musical director’s final season leading Anne™. “Working alongside Fen you immediately realized that he was at the heart of those who had built The Charlottetown Festival,” Constable recalls. “He had a wonderful, gentle demeanour, and a terrific sense of humour, but rest assured if you were doing something wrong musically, he would see it corrected. The Canadian musical theatre community has lost an instrumental member and friend and we are grateful for his many contributions.”

Watkin first served as associate musical director at The Charlottetown Festival from 1965-77 alongside John Fenwick during a thriving era for musical theatre in Canada. Working with then artistic director Alan Lund, both Fenwick and Watkin conducted the orchestra for Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ and dozens of other productions, such as By George!, Kronborg 1582, Johnny Belinda, Singin’ & Dancin’ TONIGHT, and many more. Watkin became musical director in 1978 and continued to lead in this way until the mid-2000’s, including national and international tours of Anne™.

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HOURS OF OPERATION

Building Hours

8am – 6pm, Monday – Sunday

Art Gallery

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Daily

Box Office

9 a.m – 8 p.m. Monday – Saturday
Please call 1-800-565-0278 or 902-566-1267 for information.

The Story of Confederation 

June
Mon-Sat: 10am-3pm

July- August
Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: 12-5pm

September
Mon-Sat: 10am-3pm


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.

 

Relaxed Performances offered during the 2021 Charlottetown Festival:
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