Dharma Bizier as Maggie on the Johnny Reid Love Someone Tour 2022 [phtot: Mike Peleshok]

Charlottetown Festival

2023 lineup at Confederation Centre of the Arts includes original musical and smash hit comedy

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The world premiere production of an original Canadian musical, a smash-hit comedy, a pair of cabarets, and family-friendly performances make up The 2023 Charlottetown Festival lineup, revealed in December at Confederation Centre of the Arts.

“The 2023 Festival is full of stories of resilience, inspiration, empowerment, and lots of laughter,” says Adam Brazier, artistic director of performing arts at the Centre. “The lineup includes a new Canadian musical, celebrates a variety of performance styles and theatrical forms, and features lots of local talent.”

Coming to the Centre’s Sobey Family Theatre in June is the world premiere production MAGGIE. The new Canadian musical tells the inspirational tale of a fiery school cleaner living in the mining town of Lanarkshire, Scotland. After suffering an unthinkable loss, she must rely on her strength, sense of humour, and fiercely loyal group of friends to raise her boys and protect them from the harsh and ever-changing world around them.

Set in post-war Scotland, the show features a score by recording artist Johnny Reid, a Scot who immigrated to Canada as a teenager. The musical is based on the true story of his grandmother. “MAGGIE celebrates not only my Gran and her life, but also an entire generation of women who fought through some tough times by keeping faith, hope, love, family, friendship, and humour close to heart,” says Reid. “It reminds us that joy and laughter can be found, even in the darkest of times.”

The production’s music is written by Reid, Matt Murray, and Bob Foster—who co-created the Festival’s 2022 musical Tell Tale Harbour. It will be directed by fellow Scot and the Festival’s former associate artistic director Mary Francis Moore, who is the artistic director of Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, ON, where the musical will premiere before its run in Charlottetown. MAGGIE is produced in association with Johnny Reid and Michael Rubinoff, the originating producer of Come From Away.

Also at the Sobey Family Theatre in 2023 is The Play That Goes Wrong, a smash-hit comedy that has taken over Broadway and London’s West End. The Sherlock Holmes meets Monty Python production is a play within a play, telling the story of a failing theatre troupe trying to put on a murder mystery. Directed by Herbie Barnes, the show is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania that delivers fun for all ages.

The show is set during the opening night of the fictitious play The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), this masterpiece of malfunction is sure to bring down the house. The Play That Goes Wrong has garnered rave reviews from around the world, with HuffPost calling it, “the funniest play Broadway has ever seen.”

The Festival’s lineup also features two cabaret shows. After playing packed houses on a tour of the Maritimes, The Songs of Johnny & June returns to The Mack. Directed by Islander Rebecca Parent, the show celebrates the lives and songs of Johnny Cash and June Carter, country music’s most iconic couple. The biographical performance follows the legendary pair’s storied relationship through renowned songs, like “Jackson,” “Folsom Prison,” and “Ring of Fire.” It stars Islanders Jacob Hemphill and Melissa MacKenzie.

Also at The Mack is I’m Every Woman, a revue of iconic music that changed the world. Directed by Robin Calvert, the cabaret will feature five vocalists performing empowering songs from legendary women. The show travels through several decades of hit music, with songs from Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Chaka Khan, Taylor Swift, and more.

Family-friendly programming returns to the Outdoor Amphitheatre. Back by popular demand, Munschables will bring a new selection of stories from children’s author Robert Munsch to life through an interactive and musical performance. This year, the cast will be made up entirely of Islanders.

The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors also return to the Outdoor Amphitheatre with the new show Mi’kmaq Stories of Rabbit and His Friends, a performance for all ages that shares the history of the Mi’kmaq people through stories, songs, and traditional dance.

Admission to these noon hour performances is free, with donations gratefully accepted.

“Prince Edward Island is full of diverse local talent, and it is important to showcase that in an accessible way,” says Dawn Ward, the Festival’s associate artistic director. “Gathering at the Outdoor Amphitheatre has become a summer staple for the community, and I am excited for Islanders to see themselves reflected on stage.”

Tickets for The 2023 Charlottetown Festival are on sale now at confederationcentre.com.