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P.E.I. singer-songwriter Brielle Ansems takes the plunge into theatre and her break-out role

Brielle Ansems stands in front of the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico where she is making her professional theatre debut this summer. She plays Josie Hogan in “A Moon for the Misbegotten”. She is shown in a promotional photo for the play, which runs July 6 to Aug. 31.
Brielle Ansems stands in front of the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico where she is making her professional theatre debut this summer. She plays Josie Hogan in “A Moon for the Misbegotten”. She is shown in a promotional photo for the play, which runs July 6 to Aug. 31. - Contributed

After getting her feet wet in dinner theatre and theatre studies, singer-songwriter Brielle Ansems is taking the plunge into theatre by winning the lead role in “A Moon for the Misbegotten” at Watermark Theatre.

“To have a professional role, that would be exciting enough in itself. But to play a part that is so complex and well-written and to be working with people who I’m learning so much from, I couldn’t feel more fulfilled,” says Ansems of the play that runs from July 6 to Aug. 31 in North Rustico.

Ansems, who has been developing her professional acting chops in the theatre performance program at the Holland College School of Performing Arts, plays at live music venues in Charlottetown and is known for her community theatre work as well as her Feast Dinner Theatre performances where, besides singing, playing the guitar, flute, ukulele, piano and percussion, she has played a variety of roles.

“I’ve always been interested in music, but it was dinner theatre that made me fall in love with acting to begin with because of the character work. It was the most exciting part for me,” she says.

Her big break this summer at the Watermark Theatre came after winning the coveted lead role of Josie Hogan after a national audition search.

For Ansems, who couldn’t be “more thrilled” to win the role, it was reading the character that inspired her.

“It was very similar to dinner theatre. It involved a lot of in-depth character work, understanding different behaviours and mannerisms and reasons for why people do the things they do.”

Up close and personal with Brielle Ansems

  • Favourite food: Mini peanut butter cheesecakes.
  • Favourite music “Stranger in the Alps” by Phoebe Bridges.
  • Making the leap: “A lot of the lessons I learned in playing music are (transferrable) to acting as well, so I’m looking forward to exploring new ways to connect with people on stage this summer.”
  • Philosophy: “Do not hold onto negativity. That’s because, as artists, we tend to want to linger on sadness and melancholy because it does make good art. But, pain is going to come either way, so use it and learn to move on.”

Auditions for the role took place in Charlottetown, Halifax and Toronto. As well, video-taped auditions were received from across the country, says Watermark Theatre’s artistic director, Robert Tsonos.

“Brielle had stiff competition from many very talented actresses from across the country, but she did a superb audition and we are thrilled to have her join us this summer.”

Written by Eugene O’Neill, “A Moon for the Misbegotten” is set in 1923. It’s a love story between Jim Tyrone, a Broadway actor, and Josie Hogan, a Connecticut farm girl. Josie and her hard-drinking Irish father, Phil, scheme to hold onto the farm they’ve worked for 20 years. When their neighbour, an oil magnate, stakes a claim on their property they do all they can to stop the sale. Under the light of one night’s magical moon, something happens.

“It’s a play about forgiveness,” says Ansems who is enjoying her break-out role.

“Josie has been raised tough. And there’s a lot of desperation in her. As much as she likes to play tough, she has some vulnerability. She wants something more than she has. So, when this man comes along and gives her a bit more hope, she’s intrigued. The show is about fighting for what you want and realizing, in the end, what you need.”

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