Stephen Guy-McGrath (photo: Heather Ogg)

Spinning Yarns

Q & A with show creator Stephen Guy-McGrath

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This summer the Charlottetown Festival presents Spinning Yarns at the Mack. Set in Newfoundland in the early 1980s, this play brings to life a world of raucous adventures, death-defying escapes, and dubious childcare.

The evening of story and song is a fictionalized biography written and performed by Festival favourite, Stephen Guy-McGrath (“Bill” in Mamma Mia!; “Sam Phillips” in Million Dollar Quartet; “René” in Evangeline.) And what better person to tell us about this production than the man himself, Stephen Guy-McGrath, with a Q & A:

What is Spinning Yarns’ origin story?
More than 20 years ago I was getting started in the industry and there were not a lot of opportunities for me, but I had lots of enthusiasm and, frankly, pre-wife and kids time! I started trying to come up with a project for a pal and myself to work on. We threw out tons of ideas and the whole time I was telling her stories about growing up in St. John’s. One day she said, “This is the show!” She was right.

What is it about?
It’s really a love letter to my family and the world I grew up in. A lot of fun is made with it all, but it’s all done with great affection. Also, small children get stuffed in large appliances…

How did this production make it to the Charlottetown Festival?
The festival is always looking for the ‘right’ show the Mack. It needs to be fun, have music, and be affordable to produce for a small house. (Producers) Adam (Brazier) and Dean (Constable) knew about the show and had seen snippets that I had done in The Maud Whitmore Concert. They approached me and we talked about it as a possibility. And I think it just fit this year. Tara MacLean’s Atlantic Blue is the perfect show to share the stage with. It’s “a lot of song and little story” and Spinning Yarns is “a lot of story and a little song.” We are good companion!

What can people expect from the show?
A good time! It’s very informal. I tell these stories to you as if you were sitting at my kitchen table. The bar will be open, the tunes will be rocking, the laughs will be coming. What could go wrong?

In the battle of the best Island: Newfoundland or PEI?
This is like Sophie’s Choice for East Coasters. All I can say is that I love each island in its own way. It’s like having a second child: your love is not divided between the two, as your capacity to love doubles!

Spinning Yarns is directed by Adam Brazier and was originally produced by Strange/Momentum Theatre Projects. Get tickets at, 902-566-1267, 1-800-565-0278, or visit the Box Office.