Glenda's Kitchen marks milestone for Charlottetown Festival veteran
'It's kind of daunting I must say,' says acting veteran Glenda Landry
After 46 seasons with Confederation Centre's Charlottetown Festival, musical actor and chef Glenda Landry is finally about to star in her own show, Glenda's Kitchen — a one-hour musical about P.E.I. that ends with a bowl of chowder and a biscuit for audience members.
"It's kind of daunting, I must say," Landry said of having a show with her name on it.
But this spotlight will also be bittersweet — this marks the very first year in Landry's career she will not have a part in a mainstage production at the festival She notably played Anne's bosom friend Diana Barry for more than two decades.
I want them to fall in love with my Island.— Glenda Landry
"It's transition year for me," said Landry. "It's certainly different and was interesting to get my head around that."
But as is her habit, Landry sees the silver lining in the career shift.
"Since I was 13, I've been on the stage every night in the summer. So I've never really seen a summer sunset," she said.
Landry will host the annual end-of-season Maud Whitmore concert in which festival players showcase their talents, act as an ambassador to new cast members and enjoy her new grandchild, she adds.
The musical will target the more than 100,000 tourists visiting from 58 cruise ships that plan to dock in Charlottetown this summer, giving a brief history of P.E.I. and highlighting its rich natural resources and varied cuisine.
Throughout Glenda's Kitchen, Landry will chop and prepare ingredients for homemade seafood chowder, telling the audience about P.E.I. lobster, potatoes, dairy and other items and occasionally breaking into song about said ingredients, or an element of Island culture. (Think Stompin' Tom's classic Bud the Spud).
Once the narrative gets tummies rumbling in the audience, servers will appear with bowls of prepared chowder for audience members — a recipe created by Landry and Mavor's Executive Chef Miguel Cervantes.
Hoping for a niche market
What she and the producers like about the show is that, at just one hour long, it won't take up visitors' whole afternoon, as would the 2½-hour musical Anne of Green Gables.
"They could come in, find out some facts about Prince Edward Island, have a little bit of chowder, go along their merry way! Perhaps they want to go shopping, perhaps they want to go to the beach," Landry said.
"We're hoping there's a little niche market in there."
Landry is also a trained chef, having worked for years at The Dunes in Brackley Beach as well as Sims Corner Steakhouse in Charlottetown. She now caters parties and events from her home in Stratford, P.E.I.
Centre artistic director Adam Brazier is currently writing the show with Hank Stinson, who will also act in it along with Marlane O'Brien and Charlotte Moore, backed by an 11-piece orchestra.
Bringing down the wall
Something else that will be new for Landry: the so-called fourth wall between the audience and the actors will come down for Glenda's Kitchen. She'll answer questions and interact with patrons — not a difficult task for the bubbly, energetic 64-year-old.
They could come in, find out some facts about Prince Edward Island, have a little bit of chowder, go along their merry way!— Glenda Landry
"I can't wait to actually be in a room with them!" she said.
Glenda's Kitchen will be staged in the Centre's Studio 1 Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons from July 15 to August 26 — just 19 shows. Centre officials said they hope to have at least 30 people attend each show, which will have seating for 70.
"Our final thought that we want to leave with these tourists is how passionate we are about our Island, and our final song with be Islanders We'll Always Be. I mean that from the bottom of my heart," Landry said.
"I want them to fall in love with my Island."