Last night Fredericton Playhouse Inc. announced the 2019-2020 Spotlight Series. The organization’s flagship program includes 32 professional performances in theatre, circus, music and dance from across Canada and around the world — including Fredericton’s own, JUNO, Polaris Prize and ECMA award-winner, Jeremy Dutcher in a special performance with Symphony New Brunswick.
Dutcher, a member of Tobique First Nation, has received critical acclaim for his album “Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa,” inspired by his time spent at the Canadian Museum of History archives transcribing the songs of his ancestors from 1907 wax cylinders. This season features a number of indigenous artists, including Dora Award-winning Red Sky Performance. This contemporary company is using dance, theatre, music and media to expand the scope of indigenous-made work in Canada.
A trip to Australia
Last winter, Playhouse Executive Director, Tim Yerxa, traveled across the globe to take part in the Australian Performing Arts Market. He was so blown away by the performances he witnessed that he began work on a Canadian national tour for three acts.
Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project explores the day-to-day life of Indigenous Australians on Christian missions and state-run settlements through rare songs — continuing the cultural practice and song tradition. Australian circus company, Gravity & Other Myths will also be traveling to Fredericton this season to perform their latest award-winning piece, Backbone, in which they test the limits of strength.
“While in Australia, I took part in an international gathering of indigenous artists from around the world,” says Yerxa. “When Hawaiian artist Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole walked into the room, her presence was undeniable. She’s a riveting and incredibly charismatic performer who seamlessly melds ancient Hawaiian culture and modern sensibilities into deeply powerful music.”
East Coast artists
From one side of the globe to the other, East Coast artists abound this season. Halifax rocker Matt Mays, combines his rock and acoustic styles for the first time; Cape Breton’s own fiddle master, Ashley MacIsaac takes the stage; The East Pointers, will inspire a love of folk music in a wide range of listeners; Jenn Grant’s psycadelic folk is featured in a double bill concert with Great Lake Swimmers; Rachel Beck will dazzle audiences with her captivating vocals accompanied by Atlantic String Machine; and Prince Edward Island born singer/songwritier Tara MacLean’s Atlantic Blue will share the stories of East Coast music and the people behind classics like Sonny’s Dream and Fare Thee Well Love. A highlight of the season is Canada Ballet Jörgen’s new full-length adaption of Anne of Green Gables.
The season features two Atlantic Canadian theatre companies. Atlantic Repertory Company helps young professionals with strong ties to the East in the transition between training and a career in theatre. They’ll perform award-winning Canadian masterpiece Mary’s Wedding. From The Rock, Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s Between Breaths follows a brilliant man who pioneered techniques for rescuing whales trapped in fishing nets, as he deals with the reality of dementia and immobility. The Wonderheads, lauded by CBC as “utter magic,” is an award-winning physical comedy about a tenacious granny who comes face-to-face with the Grim Reaper himself and must put up the fight of her life to escape him. This is one of eight shows offered as part of the Playhouse’s Pay What You Will initiative. This year’s lineup includes performances in theatre, music and dance, plus four children’s shows.
“We believe that the arts should be an integral part of our lives, and that the Playhouse should be accessible to everyone in the community,” says Yerxa. “We hope that programs like Pay What You Will can help reduce financial barriers and make it possible for more people in our community to experience the magic of live performance.”
Audiences will find their holiday spirit with jazz icon Holly Cole and Canadian country legends George Canyon & Aaron Pritchett as well as a special presentation by the Fredericton Symphony Orchestra and the Fredericton Choral Society, featuring Rimsky Korsakov’s Christmas Eve Suite and selections from Handel’s Messiah.
Dance lovers can look forward to Tentacle Tribe’s Ghost, a combination of contemporary, street dance and martial arts that mimic the movements of breath. Decidedly Jazz Danceworks returns to the Playhouse with Juliet & Romeo, an original dance piece inspired by Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
Rock ‘n’ Roll
Playhouse favourite, Classic Albums Live, will perform Credence Clearwater Revival’s Green River and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes. Canadian rock star Carl Dixon, of Coney Hatch, The Guess Who and April Wine, will wow audiences with his powerful vocals, artistry and stage presence. The Dreamboats will transport audiences back to the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll in a nostalgic show that will have toes tapping.
Take a trip around the world at the Playhouse this season with Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, an ensemble of student musicians from Chicago who have skyrocketed to fame and performed with some of the most respected mariachi groups from both sides of the border. Formidable! The Musical travels to France to share the story of Charles Aznavour through his most iconic songs. The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra maintains the finest possible standard of orchestral fiddle playing while staying true to its Scottish roots. Direct from India comes Beyond Bollywood, a journey across the country through traditional dance and song.
Ladom Ensemble combines piano, cello, and percussion in a unique blend of acoustic chamber and world music that is passionate, sophisticated and wild. Internationally-acclaimed musician Michael Kaeshammer brings flavours of jazz, boogie-woogie and blues, crossing genre boundaries to take audience members on a memorable journey. Comedy fans will look forward to Mike Delamont’s return in God Is a Scottish Drag Queen 2: The Second Coming.
As part of the Spotlight Series, the Playhouse offers a membership program. For only $55, members receive access to the best seats in the house at a savings before they go on sale to the general public. and special discounted pricing on Spotlight Series, Special Presentations and Spotlight Partner performances (Theatre New Brunswick, New Brunswick Country Showcase, Symphony New Brunswick and the Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada).
“We’re thrilled that our Spotlight membership program is continuing to grow year-over-year,” says Yerxa. “Members can buy up to six tickets per performance at a savings—putting money back in their pockets right away.”
New memberships become available on June 17 and full-priced tickets go on sale July 25. For more information on the 2019-2020 Spotlight Series performances, visit the box office or www.theplayhouse.ca.
Season at a Glance
Jenn Grant & Great Lake Swimmers – Sept. 24
Mariachi Herencia de Mexico – Oct. 5
Mary’s Wedding (Atlantic Repertory Company) – Oct. 17
Ashley MacIsaac – Oct. 18
Rachel Beck feat. Atlantic String Machine – Oct. 26
Juliet & Romeo (Decidedly Jazz Danceworks) – Oct. 30
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Nov. 2
Tara MacLean’s Atlantic Blue – Nov. 7
Matt Mays – Nov. 12
Jeremy Dutcher with Symphony NB – Nov. 14
Classic Albums Live performs CCR’s Green River – Nov. 15
Formidable! – Nov. 21
The East Pointers – Nov. 22
A Holly Cole Christmas – Dec. 3
George Canyon & Aaron Pritchett – Dec. 20
Tentacle Tribe – Jan. 17
The Dreamboats – Feb. 1
Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole – Feb. 5
Ladom Ensemble – Feb. 6
Gravity & Other Myths – Feb. 14
Red Sky Performance – March 19
Carl Dixon – March 20
God is a Scottish Drag Queen 2 – March 31
Michael Kaeshammer – April 1
Scottish Fiddle Orchestra – April 2
Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet – April 7
Mission Songs Project – April 9
Between Breaths (Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland) – April 15
Classic Albums Live performs Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes – April 16
The Wonderheads – May 2
Beyond Bollywood – May 12
Special Holiday Presentation: Fredericton Symphony Orchestra with
the Fredericton Choral Society – Dec. 6
Sleeping Beauty (DuffleBag Theatre) – Dec. 27
The Joshua Show – Feb. 23
Terzetto (l’Aubergine) – March 29
The Amazing Max – May 3