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Mike Duffy – The Musical? New Charlottetown Festival artistic director eager for fresh Canadian musical theatre

Coming soon to the Charlottetown Festival: Mike Duffy – the Musical?

Adam Brazier, announced as the new artistic director of the PEI-based festival on Monday, says he's open to developing a show about the Island's most famous non-resident. "I would consider a musical about a fictional islander any day –after all, we've had great success with Anne for 50 years," he says.

Hypothetical chorus lines of tap-dancing senators aside, Brazier is definitely eager to take the Charlottetown Festival – which launched in 1965 with the still-running Anne of Green Gables: The Musical – back to its original mandate of developing new Canadian musical theatre.

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Brazier, an actor and director with Broadway, the West End and the Stratford Festival all on his CV, helped shift the focus back in that direction once more this summer starring in a well-received production of Ted Dykstra's Evangeline, which he suggests may return in a future season.

"What's attracted me [to the Charlottetown Festival] is the mandate," says Brazier, who will be replacing Anne Allan at the helm of the festival. "It's everything I've been fighting for many years now and believe in. … We need more of these original Canadian musicals."

To take the new position, Brazier is stepping down from the position of artistic head of Toronto's Theatre 20 – a musical-theatre company that he helped launch with great pomp in 2009, but which spluttered out of the starting gate with a poorly reviewed and sparsely attended show called Bloodless last fall. The company hasn't had a full production since – but Brazier says Theatre 20 is alive and well and that its postponed production of Stephen Sondheim's Company will finally materialize in the late spring. "This is a good thing for Theatre 20," Brazier says of his departure, suggesting that the company will benefit from an injection of fresh leadership. "It's easy to fall into founder's syndrome."

Still, Brazier hopes that in his new job at the Charlottetown Festival, he will be able to co-develop and co-produce new shows with Theatre 20 going forward. He's also eager to increase the relationship between the tourist-oriented Charlottetown Festival and Islanders. "I would like to continue production outside of the festival and produce shows with the Confederation Centre throughout the year," he says. But as for what exactly what direction he'll take, that's still in the planning stages – he will reveal his inaugural season of programming next summer during the festival's 50th anniversary celebrations.


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About the Author
Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More


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