PEI

P.E.I. theatre guide 2017: What's on stage this summer

Trying to decide what plays to see on P.E.I. this summer? Have theatre-loving guests coming to town?

Bookmark this handy guide to keep the Island's summer theatre options at your fingertips

Million Dollar Quartet, starring Jefferson MacDonald, Edward Murphy, Matthew Lawrence and Greg Gale, opened Friday night at the Confederation Centre. (Berni Wood)

Trying to decide what plays to see on P.E.I. this summer? Have theatre-loving guests coming to town?

P.E.I. has several professional theatres that present plays and musicals in repertory. 

Bookmark this handy guide to keep your options at your fingertips.

1. Victoria Playhouse

The beautiful little artist's village in Victoria-by-the-Sea, west of Charlottetown, has shops, restaurants, history and scenery, and The Victoria Playhouse, managed by Pat and Emily Smith. 

Benton Hartley (left) and Wally MacKinnon (right), two of the stars of the Victoria Playhouse production The Birds & the Bees this summer. (Victoria Playhouse/Facebook/Angela Walker/Facebook)

Billing itself as P.E.I.'s longest-running little theatre, its 36th season is comprised of two plays, both anchored by "Maritime treasure" Martha Irving. 

The Birds and the Bees plays June 22 to July 30 and stars Irving, Wally MacKinnon, Genevieve Steel and Benton Hartley. From up-and-coming playwright Mark Crawford, it's a farce on love, sex and farming. 

On a First Name Basis plays Aug. 5 to Sept. 3, and is the theatre's annual helping of Norm Foster, Canada's most prolific playwright. It stars Irving and Lee J. Campbell and is directed by Island theatre veteran Rob MacLean. It's the witty and touching story of a man who, after three decades, decides to learn more about his housekeeper — including her first name. 

Tickets are $21 to $34 and can be found here

The season will be rounded out in September with short runs from P.E.I. storytellers The Four Tellers, who will do a special tribute to the late Erskine Smith, and Not Quite Sherlock: The Case of the Deceptive Detective, a one-man comedy.

2. The Guild

The award-winning musical Anne & Gilbert, based on the second and third novels in L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, premiered in P.E.I. in 2005 and has anchored the theatrical season at The Guild for several years. It played a very successful run this winter at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It plays six times a week until the end of October, and tickets are about $18 to $60. 

Anne & Gilbert, the musical sequel to Anne of Green Gables, plays six days a week at The Guild in Charlottetown. (Guild Theatre Productions)

Two children's musicals are also playing: Dreamworks Madagascar, A Musical Adventure from Linkletter Music School, and Seussical Jr., an adaptation of the Broadway musical for young audiences which centres on Horton the Elephant's quest to save the people of Whoville, who live on a tiny speck of dust. Tickets on select mornings and afternoons are $15 to $20.

The Guild also offers Atlantic Blue, Island-born singer-songwriter Tara MacLean's original show — along the lines of Lennie Gallant's Searching for Abegweit — that tells the life stories of Atlantic Canadian musicians through songs and film. Tickets are $30. 

Concerts and burlesque round out The Guild's stage offerings in 2017. Tickets are available online for all Guild shows here.

3. Confederation Centre of the Arts Charlottetown Festival 

The Charlottetown Festival boasts the Guinness world record for longest-running annual musical — Anne of Green Gables, based on the 1908 novel by L.M. Montgomery, will star in her 53rd year on the mainstage, and is in year one of a major three-year redesign. For the first time, the Centre's artistic director Adam Brazier will direct the classic, which runs June 29 to Sept. 23.

Greg Gale, at the mic as Johnny Cash, in the Citadel Theatre’s production of Million Dollar Quartet. Gale will again star as Cash in the Charlottetown Festival. (David Cooper )

In repertory with Anne in the 1,100-seat Homburg Theatre, Million Dollar Quartet makes its East Coast premiere. The 2010 Tony Award-nominated Broadway hit features the music of Elvis (Matthew Lawrence), Jerry Lee Lewis (Jefferson McDonald), Carl Perkins (Edward Murphy), and Johnny Cash (Greg Gale) and is loosely based on an actual meeting of the legends at their label, Sun Records, in 1956. It runs June 14 to Sept 23.

Over at the centre's 200-seat The Mack, Bittergirl - The Musical is back, after premiering there to sell-out crowds in 2015. It's a Canadian comedy about getting dumped, and runs July 5 to Aug. 26. 

A Misfortune, a new Canadian musical making its world premiere, is adapted from a short story by Anton Chekhov and follows the story of a young lawyer and a married woman in pre-revolutionary Russia. It runs Sept. 7 to 22.

Glenda's Kitchen is a matinee in the Studio 1 theatre starring real chef Glenda Landry — now in her 47th season with the Festival — in a one-hour musical about cooking that ends with guests being served chowder and a biscuit by the ensemble cast. The show runs July 13 to Sept. 1.

The Confederation Centre's Young Company rehearses for The Dreamcatchers, its free lunchtime show this summer. (Confederation Centre of the Arts/Facebook)

The festival's Young Company presents a free lunchtime musical called The Dream Catchers from June 21 - Aug. 19, outdoors in the centre's amphitheatre. 

Tickets for Anne and Quartet cost $29 - $79, while over at the Mack you'll pay $29 - $35, and $29 for Studio 1. Find ticket info here

4. Watermark Theatre

North Rustico's Watermark Theatre (formerly The Montgomery Theatre) 2017 season will once again welcome back Gracie Finley and Leah Pritchard, who will star in George Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession as well as Neil Simon's snappy comedy Barefoot in the Park

Gracie Finley (left) and Leah Pritchard (right) star in Mrs. Warren's Profession — Mrs. Warren was a prostitute and is now a madam dealing with her disapproving daughter, and caused a major scandal when it premiered in 1902. (Submitted by Watermark Theatre)

They'll be joined by Jerry Getty, Stratford Festival veteran Ian Deakin, P.E.I. actor Paul Whelan, Watermark alumni Jordan Campbell, and more.

General manager Andrea Surich calls both offerings "really smart writing" with roles that are fun to play. 

The Watermark offers classic and modern classic theatre. 

Tickets range from $10 to $35 and can be purchased here

5. Harbourfront Theatre

Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside has been lucky enough to land the fantastic show, Searching for Abegweit: Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant

Lennie Gallant says Searching for Abegweit is 'a real patchwork quilt look at Prince Edward Island.' (Darrell Theriault)

The live show with Lennie and a four-person band played to sold-out crowds the last couple of years at The Mack and at the P.E.I. Brewing Company in Charlottetown.

It presents a selection of songs from the Rustico, P.E.I., folk singer's 11 award-winning albums, woven together with delightful stories of local lore, all in front of a background of the art of Karen Gallant, Lennie's sister. 

It opens for the season July 11 and runs eight select nights until the end of August. Tickets are $40, find them at Ticketpro.ca.

6. Kings Playhouse

The theme this year from the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown is "our roots are showing." 

The only play on stage is Sunday nights: Newfoundland playwright Anne Chislett's The Tomorrow Box, which first played 30 years ago in Georgetown, is about a farm wife who discovers her true worth when her husband decides to sell their farm — without telling her. It runs July 9 to Sept. 3. Tickets range from $8.70 to $17.40, and can be purchased here.

The theatre will also welcome the wildly popular story Four Tellers -- Dennis King, David Weale, Alan Buchanan and Gary Evans, on Monday nights, a revue called For the Love of the Island featuring Treble with Girls, ghost walks and much more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at sara.fraser@cbc.ca.

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