Home On Stage The Charlottetown Festival History of the Charlottetown Festival

History of The Charlottetown Festival

History of the Festival

The Charlottetown Festival is held each summer at Confederation Centre. The Festival has long been home to Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™, which holds the Guinness World Record as the “longest-running annual musical,” having played on our stage every summer from 1965 to 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just how did The Charlottetown Festival arrive in such a prominent place in the cultural life of Canada? Like Charlottetown’s improbable place in Canadian history, the existence of the Festival in the capital city of Canada’s smallest province has been both extraordinary and unexpected.

Founded in 1965 as a “festival of music and laughter” by first Artistic Director Mavor Moore, the Festival was meant to channel the celebratory Island spirit with which the Fathers of Confederation were famously hosted during the 1864 Charlottetown Conference.

Over the same six decades that Canada has had 10 prime ministers, The Charlottetown Festival has had just seven artistic directors. Mavor Moore, Alan Lund, Walter Learning, Jacques Lemay, Duncan McIntosh, Anne Allen, and Adam Brazier have provided the essential leadership, creativity, innovation, and in many instances, daring, that a festival of this scale demands. These seven leaders have balanced art, commerce, heritage, and mandate for close to six decades, threading the needle of new Canadian works with mainstage entertainment for tourists and local patrons alike. Today, the Festival is a national stronghold for Canadian musical theatre and has launched more than 85 original productions, touring many across the country and beyond.

Of course, Charlottetown’s artistic directors would be a unique study in any PhD thesis on musical theatre in that each has served as the guardian of Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™, dubbed “the most wholesome musical since The Sound of Music” (Daily Express) and “the major family musical at its best (London Times). This responsibility and the extent to which Anne has held such “evergreen” and universal appeal has been evident in her incredible run of more than 2,500 performances internationally and on the Mainstage (up until 202 and the COVID-19 pandemic).

Current Artistic Director Adam Brazier (2015-) strives to celebrate Canadian stories through musical theatre, upholding the Festival’s reputation as an incubator for new musical works that go on to travel the country. Brazier aims to shed light on stories “written by Canadians for Canadians”, including major Canadian productions he’s shepherded in like Belles Soeurs, Evangeline, Spoon River, Atlantic Blue, and Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical, along with world premieres Bittergirl, A Misfortune, On the Road with Dutch Mason, Stories from the Red Dirt Road, Dear Rita, Tell Tale Habour, and others. Brazier looks forward to developing more stories that “hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask questions that both challenge and entertain us as a province and a nation.”

1965

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Laugh with Leacock*
Wayne and Shuster
Spring Thaw

1966

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
The Ottawa Man
Turvey!*
Children’s Theatre

1967

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Paradise Hill*
Yesterday the Children Were Dancing
Rose La Tulipe
Children’s Theatre

1968

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Johnny Belinda*
Sunshine Town*
Beyond the Fringe
Children’s Theatre

1969

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Johnny Belinda*
Life Can Be Like Wow!*

1970

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Private Turvey’s War*
Jane Eyre*
Children’s Theatre

1971

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Mary, Queen of Scots*
Jane Eyre*
Children’s Theatre

1972

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Ballade*
Mary, Queen of Scots*
Les Feux Follets*
Squeeze
Children’s Theatre

1973

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Ballade*
Joey*
Les Feux Follets*

1974 - 1975

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Kronborg: 1582*
Johnny Belinda*

1976

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Rowdyman!
By George!

1977

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
By George!
The Legend of the Dumbells*
The Road to Charlottetown

1978

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Windsor
The Legend of the Dumbells*
Eight to the Bar*
Lies and Other Lyrics*

1979

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
On a Summer’s Night*
Les Feux Follets*
Eight to the Bar*
The Family Way*
Winnie*

1980

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Fauntelroy*
Les Feux Follets*
Love in the Backseat*
Happily Ever After*
Come by the Hills*
Flash in the Pan*
The Three Bears*

1981

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Fauntelroy*
Aimee*
Magcap*
Cocktails for Two Hundred*
The Three Bears*

1982

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Skin Deep*
Singin’ & Dancin’ TONIGHT
My Many Husbands*
The Winkle Pickers*

1983

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Singin’ & Dancin’ TONIGHT*
Johnny Belinda*
Step Right Up, Ladies and Jellybeans*
Take Five*
The Kneebone Connection*

1984

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Singin’ & Dancin’ TONIGHT*
Ye Gods!*
Sleeping Arrangements*
Little Red Riding Hood*

1985

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Swing!
Fauntelroy!
Sleeping Arrangements*
Hansel & Gretel*

1986

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Babies—Bless Them All!*
Salt-Water Moon
Pump Boys and Dinettes
Chris Elliot Comedy Show
Rapunzel*
How She Lied to Her Husband
When god Comes to Breakfast, You Don’t Burn the Toast*
Culture Shock*
The Night the Raccoons Went Berserk*

1987

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Are You Lonesome Tonight?*
Babies—Bless Them All!*
Salt-Water Moon
Billy Bishop Goes to War
Chris Elliot Comedy Show
Noel Coward—A Portrait*
Take Two Modern Housewives and…*
The Venerables*

1988

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Are You Lonesome Tonight?*
Alexandra—The Last Empress*
The Mind Bogles*
Happy Birthday Irving*
Dead Air*
Rumpelstiltskin*
New Canadian Kid
I’ll be Back Before Midnight
The Venerables*

1989

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Encore!*
Not Available in Stores*
I’ll Be Back Before Midnight
Maud for Myself*
Merlin and Arthur*

1990

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*The Strike at Putney Church*
Don Messer’s Jubilee
Les Belles Histoires de Thadde a Damien
The Strike at Putney Church!
After Marlene!
Brendan Behan: Confessions of an Irish Rebel*
Lunch with Leacock*
Bogeyman Blues*
The Island Soirees*

1991

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Broue/Brew
A Child’s Garden of Verses
I am a Bear
Lorne Elliot Comedy

1992

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
The Great Adventure*
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
Le Café Acadien
Head a Tete

1993

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
The Princess and the Handmaiden
La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux
Spirit of a Nation*

1994

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Dads
Lovers in Bedeque
Rendez-vous Acadien*
Pirates*
Spirit of a Nation*

1995

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Guys and Dolls
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
Step Right up, Ladies and Jellybeans
Rendez-vous Acadien
We Will Not Forget*
Spirit of a Nation*

1996

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
Rendez-vous Acadien*
We Will Not Forget*
Spirit of a Nation*

1997

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Johnny Belinda*
2 Pianos, 4 Hands
18 Wheels
Barachois
Drill Queens Comedy
Rik Barron’s Family Concert
Somewhere in the World*

1998

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Johnny Belinda
Letter from Wingfield Farm
Bending the Bows
Barachois
Drill Queens Comedy
Somewhere in the World*

1999

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Emily
Forever Plaid
Barachois
Acadilac
Drill Queens Comedy
Somewhere in the World*

2000

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Emily
Forever Plaid
Barachois
Drill Queens Comedy
The Conjuror Suite
Ceilidh on the Road
Somewhere in the World*

2001

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Stan Rogers – A Matter of Heart
2 Pianos, 4 Hands
Ceilidh on the Road
Barachois
Celtitude
Somewhere in the World*

2002

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
The Legend of the Dumbells
If You Could Read My Mind: The Music of Gordon Lightfoot
Fire
Ceilidh on the Road
Menopositive! The Musical
Songs of the Island
The Happy Prince
Barbara Budd Concert Series
Barachois
Celtitude

2003

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Dracula: a Chamber Musical
Fire
Eight to the Bar
Arianna
La Famille Ross en concert
Barachois

2004

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Something Wonderful*
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
Broadway Heroes
Les Feux Follets
Fete acadienne*
Musique de l’Acadie*
The Cottars
Island Flavours*

2005

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Canada ROCKS!*
A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
Hedgerow
C’est What?

2006

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Canada ROCKS!*
Celtic Blaze
Shear Madness
Les Feux Follets
Confederation Bridge Concert Series

2007

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
British Invasion: A Musical Revue*
Shear Madness
Salt-Water Moon
Les Girls
Ode a l’Acadie
Confederation Bridge Concert Series
Alberta Fusion*

2008

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
British Invasion 2: America Strikes Back!
The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom
Stones in His Pocket
Quebec a la carte

2009

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Disco Cirque!*
Stan Rogers—A Matter of Heart
Charlie Farquharson and Them Udders*
Sketch 22
Abegweit: The Soul of the Island*
Gadelle
En Acadie
Vishten

2010

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
Hairspray
Sexy Laundry
The Last Resort
The Island Standup Showcase
Abegweit: The Soul of the Island*

2011

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story
The Full Monty
Come-All-Ye*
Separate Beds
The Talking Stick

2012

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Ring of Fire
The Kitchen Witches
Come-All-Ye*
Les Feux Follets

2013

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Evangeline*
Dear Johnny Deere
Les Feux Follets

2014

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Canada ROCKS!*
Searching for Abegweit: The Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant*
We Are Canadian*

2015

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Alice Through the Looking-glass
Evangeline*
Bittergirl*
The Voices of Canada*

2016

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Mamma Mia!
Belles Soeurs
Glenda’s Kitchen*
Spoon River
The Dream Catchers*

2017

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Million Dollar Quartet
Bittergirl*
A Misfortune*
Glenda’s Kitchen
The Dream Catchers*

2018

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Jesus Christ Superstar
Stories from the Red Dirt Road*
Ghost Light
Métis Mutt
On the Road Dutch Mason*
Aqsaarnit*

2019

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Kronborg—The Hamlet Rock Musical*
Mamma Mia!
Spinning Yarns
Atlantic Blue*
Aqsarniit*

2020

Festival Season cancelled due to
COVID-19 pandemic.

Online Digital Content:
Feelin’ Mighty Proud
Postcards from the Island
Set in the Sun

2021

Between Breaths
Dear Rita
OLD STOCK: A Refugee Love Story
The Voices of Resilience
Street Fusion

2022

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Tell Tale Harbour*
Betty’s Song*
Hey Viola

2023

The Play That Goes Wrong
Maggie
I'm Every Woman
The Songs of Johnny & June

2024

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™*
Jersey Boys
Becoming Dolly

ARTISTIC DIRECTORS

1964-66: Mavor Moore
1966-86: Alan Lund
1987-91: Walter Learning
1991-1997: Jacques Lemay
2002-03: Duncan McIntosh
2004-14: Anne Allan
2014-Present: Adam Brazier

MUSIC DIRECTORS

1964-77: John Fenwick
1978-2004: Fen Watkin
2005-2014: Don Fraser
2015-Present: Bob Foster

ANNE SHIRLEY ACTORS

1965-67 Jamie Ray

1968-74; ’84-85 Gracie Finley

1975-78 Malorie-Ann Spiller

1979-80 Susan Cuthbert

1981-83 Thea MacNeil

1986 Tracey Moore

1987-90; ‘93 Leisa Way

1991-92 Glynnis Ranney

1994-96 Tracy Michallidis

1996; 98-99 Sharmaine Ryan

1997 Samantha Winstanley

2000-01 Chilina Kennedy

2002-05; 2010 Jennifer Toulmin

2006-09: Amy Wallis

2011-12: Tess Benger

2013-14 Katie Kerr

2015-16: Jessica Gallant

2017-18: AJ Bridel

2019: Emma Rudy

2022: Kelsey Verzotti