Confed Centre spending $100K to record Evangeline

Teresa Wright
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Chilina Kennedy, pictured here in Evangeline from the 2013 Charlottetown Festival, is one of several original cast members coming together this month to record the musical album The Music of Evangeline.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts is spending upwards of $100,000 for a recording of a musical it chose not to produce this year.

Cast members of last summer’s Charlottetown Festival production of Evangeline have already begun recording sessions in Toronto, complete with a 17-piece orchestra.

The Confederation Centre’s general theatre manager Dean Constable said Thursday the recording is being made not only to sell albums, but also to help generate interest in the show from other producers and companies.

“This was a way for us to get this Canadian story, this Canadian piece of art, this Canadian music to more Canadians across the country and make it available.”

But the $100,000 being spent on this project has raised some eyebrows, especially after the Confederation Centre garnered headlines last fall for its application for funds from the P.E.I. 2014 Fund.

The centre was originally granted $240,000 from the fund for two productions for this year’s season — a remount of the musical Canada Rocks and a new show called 1864: The Musical.

The centre then pulled the plug on the 1864 musical, saying it was too much of a financial risk. It also argued it needed to keep the $240,000 grant for Canada Rocks, claiming the remount wouldn’t get the treatment it needs to return it to the stage without this money.

The board of P.E.I. 2014 Inc. ruled against this and instead gave the Confederation Centre a reduced $100,000 grant.

Constable said Thursday the centre views this recoding as an investment and expects to recoup it in sales of the album and also by attracting interest in mounting another future production of Evangeline.

“Obviously running an arts organization, we always are struggling with ensuring we have enough resources in order to meet our mandate,” Constable said.

“This particular project we saw as a really important piece. Evangeline was successful (last) summer and did generate revenues above its allotted budget, so when we were looking at that we felt it was really important to make an investment in making this piece of art, this very important Canadian story, available to people who maybe weren’t able to be here.”

Constable said the recording is already generating a lot of buzz in Toronto’s theatre scene as it is the first time in 20 years a Canadian musical has been recorded, complete with its original cast and a full orchestra.

The Confederation Centre holds the staging rights of Evangeline for six more years and it also owns the right to translate it into French and mount or tour it.

That’s why officials with the Centre say they are excited at the interest in the recording project and what if could mean for future productions of the show.

But when asked why Evangeline is not in the lineup for the Charlottetown Festival this summer in light of so much buzz and interest, Constable said it will be back, just not this year.

“Because something is exciting doesn’t necessarily mean you have to repeat it right away,” he said.

“It was the decision of our artistic director along with the larger team here, that we would go with a different season this year and look to bringing Evangeline back.”

Despite the fact the show is not running this year, the centre remains confident people will be interested in the recording of last year’s production of Evangeline.

Organizations: Confederation Centre, Canada Rocks

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • So pleased
    January 17, 2014 - 18:25

    It seems the bulk of these negative comments are coming from a lack of understand the theatre world. I don't claim to know more then anyone else but I would imagine it next to impossible to sell a show that doesn't have a recording. Since Evangeline is clearly a hit and an important piece of Canadian Theatre, it warrants a cast recording. I for one am very excited and think this is a wise investment into the shows future. Bravo!

    • SLIPPY
      January 19, 2014 - 11:49

      Such a hit they are not going to put it on this year? Such a hit, they need more funding to make a cd? This is just a way to grab more tax money.

  • Janice
    January 17, 2014 - 13:56

    Maybe the Government should give the money to the Salvation Army for their heating program instead.. I bet Islanders would sooner the heat than that waist of money.. Government BS.. they really need to get their priorities straight for a change. people are either hungry, or cold or in some cases BOTH HUNGRY AND COLD.. get your s**t together people.. food and heat before entertainment its not rocket science.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    January 17, 2014 - 11:43

    So for this album the show gets the 17 piece orchestra it deserves whereas we viewers who saw it last summer had to settle for a 13 piece band? What an insult!

  • Islandart
    January 17, 2014 - 10:38

    Finally a strong arts vision that has a national agenda. This is wonderful news for the Confederation Centre and even better news for Canadian Theatre.

  • Brian Mills
    January 17, 2014 - 09:49

    This is great news. We'll be first in line to buy the CD for ourselves and relatives from the UK. We all thoroughly enjoyed Evangeline last summer.

    January 17, 2014 - 09:48

    It is so easy to squander money you haven't earned yourself.

  • patron
    January 17, 2014 - 09:43

    Ever since the surprise name change to Humbug Theatre, things seem to have run a mock at Confederation Centre. What with the whole fuzzy affair regarding the 2014 deal to wanting to forfeit $ 178.000 in rent for the library, and now to recording decision. It seems that this entity removes itself more and more from Islanders, who can't afford the ticket prices, but are supporting it through our taxes.

  • amazed
    January 17, 2014 - 06:28

    Who would buy one? Ridiculous