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Home > Blog > SoPA grads part of Anne and Gilbert cast this summer at FSPH

SoPA grads part of Anne and Gilbert cast this summer at FSPH

The hallways of the Prince of Wales Campus can be quiet during the summer months. But since the opening of the Florence Simmons Performance Hall eight years ago, the west wing of the Charlottetown Centre has been buzzing all summer long, and this year will be no exception. More than 60 performances of the critically acclaimed musical will be staged from May to October this year.

Featuring a 20-member cast and orchestra, Anne & Gilbert has become a Canadian theatre sensation adored by fans of Anne of Green Gables and theatre lovers alike.

Four cast members of this year’s production are graduates of ҹav’s School of Performing Arts’ Music Performance program – Hayden Lysecki, from Ontario; Allegra Wright, from Vancouver; David Wallace from Richmond, BC; and Islander Holly Perry.

With only two-and-half weeks to rehearse, Director Wade Lynch said the young performers’ ability to hit the ground running – or to hit the stage singing and dancing – was crucial.

“They needed to learn 17 musical numbers in this short rehearsal time, and the quality of their singing is exceptional,” he said.

L-R Hayden, Allegra, Holly, and DavidAll four of the young performers have training in musical theatre, but they chose to attend ҹav’s Music Performance program to enhance their music skills. Two of them, Allegra and David, came to ҹav because of the degree pathway agreement the college has with Berklee ҹav of Music in Boston, and by the fall, that’s where they’ll be. The four SoPA graduates are well-acquainted with the FSPH. As Music Performance students they have all been part of the program’s annual showcases, and some have supported their fellow students in recitals in the hall as well.

Wade Lynch is no stranger to the college’s School of Performing Arts. He was one of the original instructors and curriculum developers, and when he returned to the Island last year and saw the Florence Simmons Performance Hall, he knew it was a great venue for Anne & Gilbert.

“When I walked into the space and saw the music hall quality that it has, I knew it was perfect for the show,” he recalls.

The Florence Simmons Performance Hall was originally a gym and auditorium for Prince of Wales ҹav. Even today, graduates from PWC recall attending music performances and sporting events, and even writing exams, in the room, although it looked very different back then. And in a way, the room has historical ties to the show. The musical is based on the novels Anne of the Island and Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, who attended Prince of Wales ҹav herself.

Wade sees a similarity between the relationships that form over the course of the summer production and the relationships L.M. Montgomery described in the Anne stories.

“The exciting thing about revisiting a show that you helped create previously, is to see the blend of new performers and returning performers coming together to create an onstage community. It really mirrors Anne Shirley's journey. We have new actors coming into an Avonlea already populated by actors who have been in their roles for three or four seasons, such as Beth Rogers as Marilla and Gabrielle Roddy as Rachel,” he said. "They literally help to ‘show the ropes’ to the new cast members, who can be nervous and tentative in the first few days of rehearsals. In the same way that the citizens of Avonlea worked to welcome Anne to PEI, our returning actors, musicians and crew help to welcome our new company members, and to ensure they feel valued and included."

After the summer, when Allegra and David are heading to Boston to attend Berklee, Hayden will return to the University of Prince Edward Island to complete his Bachelor of Music degree, and Holly will focus her energies on continuing to build her career.

Anne & Gilbert runs from May 15 to October 15.

In this picture: (L-R) Hayden, Allegra, Holly, and David in the lobby of the Florence Simmons Performance Hall.

Below: Hayden, left; Allegra and Holly in centre of group of singers; David.

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For more information, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: May 15, 2024