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DuffleBag Theatre’s Cinderella is full of spontaneous fun and audience involvement

29. Cinderella

Playhouse Kidstage Series favourite DuffleBag Theatre returns to Fredericton on Friday, December 29 with two performances of Cinderella at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The “nearly world-famous” DuffleBag Theatre has been performing since 1992, starting at the London International Children’s Festival in Ontario. Now based in Toronto, DuffleBag performs over 600 shows a year across Canada, the U.S. and internationally. All are performed with the same sense of fun audiences have come to expect.

This holiday season, DuffleBag Theatre brings the classic story of Cinderella to life, with lots of hilarious twists along the way. DuffleBag’s fractured fairy tales are an annual favourite, full of spontaneous fun and audience involvement.

DuffleBag Theatre’s Cinderella is a Pay What You Will show, a pricing idea offered on select Playhouse performances. This initiative was introduced with a goal of increasing access to Playhouse programs, and encouraging patrons to take a chance on new and exciting performances. For more information about how Pay What You Will works, please click here.

Tickets for Cinderella are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

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Celebrate the holiday season with Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas

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On Friday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m., Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas tour comes to the Fredericton Playhouse.

Saint John-based duo Tomato Tomato consists of husband and wife team John and Lisa McLaggan. They’re known for their clever and quirky songs that draw on traditional folk, bluegrass, blues and swing combined with their own interesting twist. Their new holiday album Pinecones and Cinnamon features both classic carols and new favourites.

Tomato Tomato will be joined by two special guests – Cape Breton’s Heather Rankin and Pictou County’s Dave Gunning for a night full of folk and country music, stories, memories, laughs and surprises. This family-friendly performance will remind you what makes a Maritime Christmas so special.

Tickets for Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

Playhouse seeks public feedback about performing arts centre project

Last month, on behalf of the Fredericton Playhouse board of directors, I provided an important update on the new regional performing arts centre to Fredericton City Council. Now, we’re looking for feedback from the public and community stakeholders as the project moves forward.

The first point we wanted to address was that the total project cost for a new facility in the City-owned parking lot at the foot of York Street has been reduced – initially the estimated project cost for this location was $51.3 million; now, it would cost an estimated $47.1 million.

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The estimated project cost to build a performing arts centre in the parking lot at the foot of York Street has been reduced from $51.3 million to $47.1 million.

As we’ve continued to make progress with this important project for our region, we’ve been able to better understand the various elements involved, and have been able to adjust the budget accordingly. The reduced costs are largely attributed to the elimination of land acquisition costs and updated construction costs.

While meeting with Council, we also presented a new site option, with two variations on how it could potentially be developed. Playhouse board and staff members have become concerned about the lack of momentum on moving the project forward at the York Street site, and the longer we wait to begin building, the greater the risk of the present Playhouse failing and closing.

This new option, which hadn’t been considered previously, would involve expanding the current Playhouse site at the corner of Queen and St. John Streets. The Playhouse hired architectural consultants to study the feasibility of this new option.

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The new site option would extend the performing arts centre to the centre line of St. John Street, and closer to the sidewalk on Queen Street.

The new site would extend to the centre line of St. John Street, thereby reducing a portion of the street to one lane or closing it to vehicular traffic altogether, creating a pedestrian thoroughfare between the performing arts centre and the provincial legislature. It would also entail locating the facility closer to the sidewalk on Queen Street.

As mentioned, there were two variations presented – the first would involve completely demolishing the Playhouse and locating the new performing arts centre on the expanded site. Although the current plan (which includes an 850-seat theatre, a 300-seat studio theatre, larger lobbies, and shared support space) would fit on the new site, it would require a two-and-a-half-year interruption of service while the Playhouse is closed and the new centre is constructed.

The cost estimate for this option is $45.1 million, compared to $47.1 million on the York Street site.  The modestly lower construction cost is due to the fact that the Queen Street site requires less engineering to address the proximity to the St. John’s River’s spring freshet.

The second variation would see the existing auditorium within the Playhouse retained and improved (expanding from 709 to 800 seats), while the additional lobbies, support spaces, and a second 300-seat theatre are added to it.

Based on the architectural consultant’s study work, this option could be carried out using a phasing approach to construction that would reduce the closure of the Playhouse to two periods of four and seven months respectively. The estimated cost of this renovation and expansion option would be moderately less ($40.7 million) than a completely new building.

The board feels that all three options have both merits and challenges. We wanted to be exhaustive in our research and present an option that hadn’t been considered in the past.

Over the past few weeks since presenting these options to council, Playhouse representatives have been meeting with various community stakeholders, including the dozens of organizations that currently rent the Playhouse to present performances, as well as the downtown businesses and groups that will be impacted by this decision. We also recently conducted and completed a public opinion survey, which received an impressive response rate, with nearly 2,100 individuals and organizations providing their feedback.

There’s still time to express your opinion – I would encourage you to contact your city councillor to provide your feedback, and express what you like about the presented options, as well as any concerns you may have. You can learn more about these options and the regional performing arts centre project on our website at www.theplayhouse.ca/pac. The board will meet with City Council again in the coming weeks to present our findings from this consultation process, with the hope of moving forward with one of the three options.

We must move this important project forward. Confirming the financial investment from our provincial and federal governments is critical, and with the confirmation of the site and development plan, we will be able to begin the design process and hopefully see more concrete action from our funding partners.

Greg MacFarlane is the Vice-President of Fredericton Playhouse Inc.’s Board of Directors.

Give the gift of live performance this holiday season!

It’s hard to believe it, but Christmas is only a month away – and that means it’s time for the annual Playhouse holiday gift guide! We have great suggestions for everyone on your list this year. Read on for our top picks.

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For the classic rock fan: 

Classic Albums Live Performs Supertramp: Breakfast in America (April 12)

Classic Albums Live recreates Supertramp’s 1979 album Breakfast in America in this unforgettable concert. This release won two Grammy Awards, and was certified quadruple platinum. It features a number of hit singles including the title track, as well as “The Logical Song,” “Goodbye Stranger” and “Take the Long Way Home.” Breakfast in America is Supertramp’s best-selling album of all time.

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For the dance lover:

Toronto Dance Theatre (January 25)

Returning to the Playhouse following their stunning performance in 2014, contemporary dance company Toronto Dance Theatre is back to celebrate its 50th anniversary season. This mixed program features five masterworks from Artistic Director Christopher House’s career, ranging from the kinetic classic Vena Cava to contemporary creations Echo Dark 1 and Martingales.

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For the party animal:

Lemon Bucket Orkestra (February 23)

Following their wildly celebrated performance at the Playhouse in 2015, Lemon Bucket Orkestra returns with another adventurous and unexpected show. Canada’s only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk superband will blow you away with their ability to connect with audiences through reworked Balkan and Eastern European folk songs spiked with a signature blend of funk, punk, psychedelia, blues and swing. Incorporating an impressive array of influences and instruments into their performance, this is a truly unique act that inspires joy in all who have the chance to experience them live.

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For the comedy fan:

Girls Nite Out (February 2)

Led by beloved Canadian comic Elvira Kurt, Girls Nite Out has been wowing audiences for 10 years. This all-female variety show features comedians with Second City roots, who will have you laughing in the aisle over their hysterical stand-up and improv performance!

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For the indie pop aficionado: 

Basia Bulat (February 3)

With an electrifying voice and memorable lyrics, Basia Bulat is a rising star on Canada’s folk-pop music scene. Juno-nominated and shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, she often appears solo in gigantic concert halls, winning over crowds with an autoharp or charango, stomping feet and two mighty lungs. Bulat’s songs have been adapted for major performances with symphony orchestras, she’s been tapped for prestigious tributes to Leonard Cohen and The Band, and she’s performed at music festivals around the world, including a highly praised show at Fredericton’s own Shivering Songs Festival.

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For the hip theatre buff:

PostSecret: The Show (March 17)

PostSecret: The Show is an immersive, poignant journey through the humour and humanity of the personal stories we keep to ourselves and, on rare occasions, share with others. Projected images, videos, three actors and a guitarist guide you through crowd-sourced narratives revealing the true stories behind the secrets. See the hopeful, shocking and painful secrets that brought hundreds of millions to the PostSecret blog, which has led to six best-selling books and an exhibit in the Smithsonian.

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For the a cappella lover:

Cadence (May 5)

Canada’s premier vocal group Cadence has been wowing audiences across Canada and around the world for nearly 20 years. The members of Cadence bring an infectious energy and uncanny verve to every song they sing, whether it’s a classic song by Joni Mitchell, an old bebop standard, or a cheeky arrangement of a 1980s hit. On-stage antics and audience participation are par for the course, but so is a mesmerizing display of musical genius. What these boys can do with their voices needs to be heard to be believed.

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For the whole family:

Flip FabriQue (May 4)

Created by six alumni of Quebec City Circus School in 2011, Flip FabriQue adopts a creative and collaborative approach to highlight each performer’s strengths, and create pure magic on stage. Their astonishing, lively show Catch Me will leave you smiling from ear to ear. This cirque show incorporates acrobatics, hula hoops, trampolines and lots of humour, creating a spellbinding, crowd-pleasing and incredibly fun performance.

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For everyone:

Still not sure what to choose? Give your loved ones the gift of live performance with a Fredericton Playhouse gift certificate! Shop online, in person, or by phone at 458-8344.

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Celebrate the holiday season with festive shows at the Playhouse!

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The holiday season is coming up quickly, and this November and December we have a wide range of exciting seasonal shows coming to the Fredericton Playhouse! Read on to learn about music, dance and theatre performances that are sure to put you in a festive mood.

Nothing says Christmas like holiday music, and this year we have a huge selection of concerts to choose from. In addition to two sold-out shows – The Barra MacNeils‘ Cape Breton Christmas on Sunday, December 17 and Symphony New Brunswick’s It’s Christmas with David Myles on Tuesday, December 19 – we’re excited for Canadian jazz sensation Emilie-Claire Barlow‘s performance on Tuesday, November 28 in support of her new holiday album, Lumières d’hiver. Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas show on Friday, December 22 will remind us what makes a Maritime Christmas so special, with the help of special guests Dave Gunning and Heather Rankin.

On Monday, December 18, Shivering Songs presents Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Jerry Granelli Trio, featuring music and stories from the classic special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Fans of The Four Seasons won’t want to miss the Oh What a Night! Christmas Show  on Wednesday, November 22, with tributes to both Franki Valli and Mr. Christmas himself, Andy Williams. And on Saturday, December 9, NB Country Showcase presents its annual Christmas show, which is always a lively event full of local talent.

Dance lovers won’t want to miss out on a performance of The Nutcracker by Dance Fredericton on Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3. This classic ballet features original choreography, elaborate costuming and sets, and the classical score by Tchaikovsky – it’s sure to delight audiences of all ages.

Fans of theatre can look forward to Theatre New Brunswick’s A Christmas Carol, with four shows running from Thursday, December 14 to Saturday, December 16. This fresh adaptation of a timeless holiday classic follows Dickens’ unforgettable characters as they work to teach old Ebenezer a thing or two about how good it feels to be kind, caring and accepting – all year long. Plus, the fun continues even after Christmas, with DuffleBag Theatre’s Cinderella coming up on Wednesday, December 28 with two Pay-What-You-Will performances. This Kidstage Series performance is always a Playhouse favourite, full of spontaneous fun and audience involvement.

For more information about upcoming holiday shows, visit www.theplayhouse.ca, or contact the box office at 458-8344.

Emilie-Claire Barlow kicks off the holiday season with an eclectic mix of Christmas and wintry tunes

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On Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m., Canadian jazz vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow returns to the Fredericton Playhouse for a special holiday performance.

Barlow is known for her classy demeanour, charming humour, and for her distinct, sultry voice. The two-time Juno-winning sensation has dazzled audiences all over the world, and is always an audience favourite when she performs on the Playhouse stage.

Her new holiday album, Lumières d’hiver, features original takes on an eclectic mix of Christmas and wintry tunes, with classics like “River” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” along with Quebec favourites, and a few surprises. Barlow and her incredible band will bring fresh, imaginative interpretations of beloved holiday songs to the stage, along with hits from her popular repertoire.

Tickets Emilie-Claire Barlow are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

The Jerry Cans evoke the contemporary north with their high-energy music

8. Jerry Cans

Fast-rising northern band The Jerry Cans will perform in a Pay What You Will show at the Playhouse on Saturday, November 25 at 7:30 p.m.

The Jerry Cans’ music is inspired by their home territory, Nunavut. With their unique mix of Iqaluit alt-country, throat singing and reggae, this five-piece group is truly one of a kind. In their high-energy show, The Jerry Cans will perform music that evokes the contemporary north and the spirited people who reside there.

The band is passionate about helping to preserve the Inuktitut language, and is committed to challenging common misconceptions about life in the North. Their reputation for infectious, captivating performances has audiences around the globe catching a genuine glimpse of life in the Arctic.

The Jerry Cans’ performance is a Pay What You Will show, a pricing idea offered on select Playhouse performances. This initiative was introduced with a goal of increasing access to Playhouse programs, and encouraging patrons to take a chance on new and exciting performances. For more information about how Pay What You Will works, please click here.

Tickets for The Jerry Cans are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.