New artistic director wants P.E.I. to return to Anne, Evangeline

Teresa Wright
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Adam Brazier, Confederation Centre of the Arts’ new artistic director

The Confederation Centre of the Arts’ new artistic director says he hopes draw Islanders back to Anne of Green Gables and build Evangeline into a key repertoire piece for future seasons of the Charlottetown Festival.

Adam Brazier began his new job this week, and has hit the ground running, already working on the festival lineup for next summer in Charlottetown.

With a new expansion of the artistic director’s role at the centre, Brazier will be working full-time at the theatre this year. This means he will not only plan next summer’s festival lineup, but will work on the theatre’s Christmas show, performances at The Mack and the Live at the Centre series throughout the fall, winter and spring.

“I believe that the centre requires a full-time position in this role,” Brazier said in an interview Tuesday.

“It deserves a greater full-time focus and not just on the Charlottetown Festival… any performance aspects that happen on our stage here, I’ll be privy to and involved in.”

Brazier is replacing Annie Allan, who has been artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival for the last 10 years.

He also is beginning his tenure at a time when the theatre’s flagship production, Anne of Green Gables The Musical, has been struggling with declining ticket sales after a 50-year annual run.

Figures released by the Confederation Centre earlier this year show Anne’s audiences have dropped by more than half, with over 55,000 tickets sold in 2004 compared with just under 22,000 last year.

Centre officials are quick to point out this drop in ticket sales is due in part to a cut in the number of performances. Anne ran 99 times in 2004 and only 42 times in 2013.

But Brazier admits keeping Anne fresh and attracting audiences to a show that has been running for so many consecutive summers will be a challenge.

“It’s a balance, and at 50 years of age, that balance is more and more difficult to walk,” he said.

That’s why his focus is to not only attract tourists to the show, but to try and get Islanders interested in coming to see Anne again.

“I have some long-term goals for Anne, ways of ideally re-engaging our local audiences in Anne but also engaging tourists… We want to see it flourish on our stage, we want to see our houses overflowing.”

But the centre is also heaveily invested in the show that garnered buzz across the country last summer – Ted Dykstra’s Evangeline.

Although the decision was made not to remount it this year, the centre did spend $100,000 on an original cast recording, complete with a full 17-piece orchestra, in Toronto earlier this year.

Brazier would not confirm that Evangeline will be back in 2015, but did say work is being done to improve the show and to try to partner with other theatres across the country to tour the production to a few additional locations the next time it is mounted.

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.

“We’re looking for partners in order to bring Evangeline to the next level,” Brazier said.

“We want Evangeline to have a life not only nationally and internationally, but we want it to have a life here. We want Evangeline to be part of a repertoire of shows that we can pull out when we want to see it again, that we have in storage, we know how it goes, the same way we have with Anne.”

While Brazier has begun his job at the centre, he will not be officially taking over as artistic director of the theatre until the fall. Allan remains the artistic director of the current summer festival season.

Organizations: Confederation Centre, The Mack, Green Gables The Musical

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Green Gables, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • caringgal
    July 24, 2014 - 14:35

    Is it true that there was no search committee and Mr.Brazier was hired by the present CEO?

  • The Observer from Stratford
    July 23, 2014 - 14:56

    Sound like a big drop but is it? Instead of about 555 persons per show, they're now getting about 524. I hardly think that drop is really that significant.

  • don
    July 23, 2014 - 14:00

    yes bring back the old Anne. the one that made PEI famous. the one that had big crowds. today's Anne is not what people read in the books is it? maybe you could get the original actors on stage for a special showing of Anne they helped get her into the Guinness world book of records. that would be a show well worth getting a ticket for.

    • huh
      July 23, 2014 - 17:30

      I challenge you to explain the difference between "old Anne" and "today's Anne".

    • don
      July 23, 2014 - 20:28

      huh. if you do not know the difference then it is no use trying to tell you.

    • Scott Hurst
      July 24, 2014 - 14:00

      I have to agree with "huh", "Don". I've seen Alan Lund's version of the show on tour, Walter Learning's version, Max Reimer's version and I was in Jacques Lemay's version in 1995, and while the current production has had a redesign I firmly believe that the spirit or the original production remains throughout the years. BTW... it might be a bit difficult reuniting the original cast seeing as a goodly number of them have made their transition and/or they are now 50 years older and might not fit into their costumes.