PEI

New show based on Anne and Gilbert coming to the Guild this summer

In prior years, the Guild has offered Anne and Gilbert – The Musical to Islanders and tourists alike. This year, the two characters will be returning to the theatre, but in a new production called The Songs of Anne and Gilbert – The Musical.  

'We thought well, let's just do the songs with six great singers'

From left to right: Jacob Hemphill, Morgan Wagner, Guild CEO Alanna Jankov, and producer Campbell Webster. The Songs of Anne and Gilbert will take the stage in Charlottetown this summer. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Fans of Anne will be able to get their fix this summer at the Guild in Charlottetown.

In prior years, the Guild has offered Anne and Gilbert – The Musical to Islanders and tourists alike.

This year, the two characters will be returning to the theatre, but in a new production called The Songs of Anne and Gilbert – The Musical.  

Premiering July 28, The Songs of Anne and Gilbert will be more of a concert than a full play, said Campbell Webster, producer of the show.

"It'll be a ripping variety show based on the songs of Anne and Gilbert," said Webster. 

"There's lots of arrangements, different takes on things. An exciting aspect of it is there were songs that were written for this musical that are great songs that have never been in the musical and so you get to see them and hear them here for the first time."

'Need a smaller cast' 

The change needed to happen for the show to even go on this summer, Webster said. 

"We need a smaller cast but we still wanted to bring the beauty of this show to audiences," Webster said. 

"We thought well, let's just do the songs with six great singers."

I feel like when you're singing these songs it's hard not to act at the same time so I don't really feel like I'm missing out on a lot.— Jacob Hemphill

The smaller cast was needed to adhere to physical distancing requirements as mandated by P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office. 

There will be about six singers in the production, said Webster, and a full band. The band will always be on stage, while different songs will see a variety of singers on the stage at once. 

The theatre has been carefully mapped out so singers can stand 12 feet from the audience at all times and the number of seats inside the theatre has been reduced.

The chief public health officer has approved their plan, and the curtain is set to rise on July 28. 

'We have to sort of adapt to the times'

And the actors are looking forward to taking the stage again this summer as well. 

"I'm very excited for this new way of putting on a show because I know we have to sort of adapt to the times and it's going to be a new normal," said Jacob Hemphill, who will be playing Gilbert.

"I do consider myself an actor first. However, I feel like when you're singing these songs it's hard not to act at the same time so I don't really feel like I'm missing out on a lot." 

The pandemic restrictions also mean actors need to behave a bit differently while on stage. 

Morgan Wagner says she doesn't thinks much will be lost in the production by just performing the songs. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"You won't be able to most likely sing directly across from your scene partner or the other singers and so you'll just have to get used to, you know, connecting a little bit further away," said Hemphill.

And while it's a change in format, those in it don't believe too much will be lost in translation. 

"The thing about Anne and Gilbert that I've always found is the music is incredible and it's so integral to the story and so much of the story is told through the music that the scenes are actually quite quite short. And then you have these beautiful beautiful stories woven through the music," said performer Morgan Wagner. 

"And so honestly, you're getting the whole deal, just not dancing around what was the story."

The plan is to run the show six days a week until the end of October.

More from CBC P.E.I. 

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