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About Dear Rita

Making its world premiere in 2021 is an inspiring new production celebrating the life and songs of the Maritimes’ most beloved singer-songwriter: Rita MacNeil. Dear Rita is a musical toast celebrating the life, tenacity, and musical legacy of the late singer.

“Rita MacNeil’s contribution to Atlantic Canada is immeasurable. Her songs have inspired generations of Canadians and we are excited to share stories of her life and the iconic music she created,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director of the performing arts.

This world premiere is a musical love letter to a true fixture of Canadian culture, a fierce and passionate performer whose songs were international hits, reaching people around the world. Woven around a script from Cape Breton’s own Lindsay Kyte and musical direction from the Island’s Mike Ross, this cabaret musical features a powerful ensemble of actors accompanied by a sizzling hot band.

Dear Rita features traditional and new, re-imagined arrangements of Rita’s songs. Director Mary Francis Moore, Kyte, and Ross have woven Rita’s lyrics and music into new perspectives, inviting her spirit into the room and letting her songs live on through the audience’s own experiences.

“We picked songs from Rita’s catalogue, from her popular hits to ones that made her bandmates weep, and created narratives around these to offer new perspectives,” shares Lindsay Kyte. “I keep getting asked, ‘Who plays Rita?’ The answer is that it’s not one person. Everyone is Rita — everyone on the stage, and everyone whose heart she touched with her music. In Dear Rita, we invite Rita’s spirit into the room so her songs can live on through our own experiences.”

The cast includes actor-musicians who both sing and play instruments, channeling MacNeil’s stories and spirit through their own identities. These include: Michelle Bouey (Lovers’ Lament)Sheldon Elter (Metis Mutt; Evangeline), Lindsay Kyte Playwright – Tompkinsville (EFT; Oakville Centre), Kristi Hansen (NAC, Citadel Theatre), Melissa MacKenzie (Good Girl), and Festival favourite, Brendan Wall.

Additional musical accompaniment is from guitar legend Chris Corrigan, who in fact recorded and toured as Rita’s actual lead guitarist for many years, and Festival vet Trevor Grant (drums).

Purchase Concessions

All concessions must be purchased in advance of the performance. Call the box office to pre-order concessions for you and your group, which will be delivered directly to your seat. The box office is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. at 1-800-565-0278.

Audience Guidelines

Confederation Centre is delighted to welcome you back to the Mainstage. A few reminders prior to your arrival:

Masks may be removed once you are seated in the theatre. Please wear them when coming and going.
No Intermission: the performance will be presented straight through, approximate running time 80-90 minutes, with no intermission. If you need to leave/use the washroom at any point, please feel free to do so discreetly
Come prepared with your E-ticket on your device; you are not required to print it
Kindly observe capacity limits in washrooms and elevators
Please maintain physical distancing of 6 ft. between parties when possible and observe directional signage throughout the building at all times
Please do not attend this event if you are experiencing any COVID related symptoms

 

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HOURS OF OPERATION

Building Hours

Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Art Gallery

Monday & Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 PM

Box Office

Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 5:00 PM  (Closed Sunday)
Please call 1-800-565-0278 or 902-566-1267 for information.

The Story of Confederation

September
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM  (Closed Sunday)


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HOURS OF OPERATION

Building Hours

Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Art Gallery

Monday & Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 PM

Box Office

Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 5:00 PM  (Closed Sunday)
Please call 1-800-565-0278 or 902-566-1267 for information.

The Story of Confederation

September
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM  (Closed Sunday)


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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Lindsay Kyte
Playwright of Dear Rita Raised in: Cape Breton, NS For the Centre: Debut Theatre: Playwright - Tompkinsville (EFT; Oakville Centre); Toronto Adventures (Festival Antigonish; Grand Bank), Actor (TNB; Classic Theatre; Festival Antigonish) TV/Film: Writer/Researcher (Cash Cab; Animania) Actor/Journalist (Murdoch Mysteries; You Can DO It!; DNTO) lindsaykyte.com: Rita MacNeil’s songs are the musical prayers of our people. Thank you, Wade Langham, for the honour of telling this story.
Michelle Bouey
RAISED IN: Charlottetown,  P.E.I.  For the Centre: Confederation Centre Young Company, Lover’s Lament  Theatre: UnCovered (Musical Stage); Rose (Soulpepper); Grease (Winter Garden, Drayton); Freaky Friday (Aquarius); Wizard of Oz (Grand Theatre); Aladdin (Drayton); RENT (CAA Theatre).  TV/Film: The Moblees (CBC); Odd Squad (PBS); Mrs. America, Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu); Japanizi (DisneyXD); Over The Rainbow (CBC).  Other: Banks Prize, Juno Nominee ( Moblees), Original Music on Spotify — @michbouey  It’s a dream come true to be back on this stage. xo
Sheldon Elter
RAISED IN: Peace River, AB  For the Centre: Métis Mutt, Evangeline, Stories from the Red Dirt Road  Theatre: The Ministry of Grace (Belfry Theatre); Eday (Serial Collective); After The Fire, BEARS (Punctuate! Theatre); A Winter’s Tale, Two Gentleman of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice (Freewill Players); The Comedy Company (Shadow Theatre); Crazy For You (Citadel Theatre/Theatre Calgary); A Christmas Carol, Alice Through The Looking-glass, One Man Two Guvnors (Citadel Theatre); Tartuffe, Sound of Music, Enron (National Arts Centre).  TV/Film: Hank Williams’ First Nation, CAUTION: May Contain Nuts (Gemini, and Canadian Comedy nominated writer) and Delmer and Marta (APTN). — --@thesheldonelter
Kristi Hansen
RAISED IN: Saskatoon, SK  For the Centre: Debut  Theatre: Candide (Edmonton Opera); Silver Arrow, Alice Through the Looking-glass (Citadel Theatre); The Invisible (Catalyst Theatre); Mr. Burns: a post-electric Play (You are Here); The Bad Seed, The Jazz Mother, Pith (Teatro la Quindicina); The Hollow (Vertigo Theatre); Small Mouth Sounds, Passion Play (Wild Side Productions); Sound of Music (NAC); Comedy of Errors, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Freewill Players) — @kristi.hansen77 #DisabledAndProud
Melissa MacKenzie
RAISED IN: Charlottetown, P.E.I.  For the Centre: We Are Canadian; Soul of the Island (Confederation Centre Young Company)  Theatre: Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Harmony House); Tuesdays & Sundays (Kitbag Theatre); It’s a Wonderful Life (Magnus Theatre); Kitsault (Pucl & Price); Anne & Gilbert (The Guild); Perfect Wed-ding, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Stephenville Theatre Festival). — There’s no place like home! Feeling all kinds of grateful. @melissamackenz @divaday.ca
Brendan Wall
RAISED IN: Scarborough, ON   FOR THE CENTRE: Atlantic Blue, Spinning Yarns, Jesus Christ Superstar, On the Road with Dutch Mason, Kronborg, A Misfortune, Spoon River.  Other Theatre: Paradise Square (BerkeleyRep); Once (Mirvish); Warhorse (West End); Spoon River (Off-Broadway). — Brendan’s 25 year career as a musician and actor in theatre, film, and television has taken him to London’s West End, New York, California, and many points between. He lives in Toronto.
Chris Corrigan
RAISED IN: Edmonton, AB  FOR THE CENTRE: Mamma Mia, Canada Rocks!, Evangeline, Hairspray, Disco Cirque, British Invasion, 18 Wheels, Fire, A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, Mamma Mia!, JC Superstar.  OTHER: Has toured and recorded with Lennie Gallant, Rita MacNeil, Mary Jane Lamond, Natalie MacMaster, Nathan Wiley, and Thom Swift. Recipient of ECMA 2006 Musician’s Achievement Award.
Trevor Grant
RAISED IN: Sackville, NB  FOR THE CENTRE: Kronborg, JC Superstar, Mamma Mia!, Million Dollar Quartet, On the Road with Dutch Mason.  OTHER: A graduate of Mount Allison University (B.Mus), Trevor migrated to Vancouver where he performed, recorded, and toured across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. with a variety of artists covering a diverse range of musical styles. A busy drum teacher in Charlottetown, he performs regularly with such artists as Tara MacLean and Alicia Toner. He also presents sound meditations with his project “SoundEscapes”.