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Birding classic

Bennett Fall Birding Classic returns on September 29 Each autumn for the last 23 years, Island Natu [ ... ]

Brain Injury Support Meetings

If you or someone you know is a brain injury survivor then Brain Injury Support Meetings are for you [ ... ]

Men of Romanza

Trio of tenors to perform Valentine’s Day in Summerside

by Michelle René Sexton

Men of RomanzaValentine’s Day is all about passion, music and love. Combining classical opera and traditional ballads, an artistic group of three handsome men will serenade an audience on February 13 at Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside. Philip Grant, Todd Jang, and Frederik Robert created the group Romanza a few years ago after auditioning for another show, then deciding they could do their own. Success has since followed.

Philip is known for his rich tone and dedicates himself to the passion of music. His talent has propelled him to more than a dozen lead vocals, and has taken him across Canada, U.S., Mexico, and Italy. “I’ve been singing for ten years. I didn’t know I wanted to sing, but I wanted to explore it. What was the worse that could happen? I went for my potential and am reaching it,” replied Philip in a phone interview.

Todd Jang, originally from Liverpool England, met Philip while attending university. Todd also puts commitment into music, and his creative energy has another dedication. Todd holds a Chef diploma from one of Canada’s top culinary schools. He too has performed all over Canada in a variety of musical genres, including classical opera, jazz, rock, and hip-hop.

The third member is Frederik Robert. He also adds a myriad of styles to the groups repertoire. His talents range from performing classical opera, oratorio, recital work, musical theatre, to hip-hop. When the three are on stage the show comes alive with energy. “We approach each show the same. We know what to do, and we have fun entertaining our audience. We sing classical opera, musical theatre, and pop fused with classical techniques. Our style is classical crossover. We want music to be accessible to everyone,” explained Philip.

They expect the show to be successful and to give the audience what it wants. They respect the music, but they also joke and laugh at themselves. “We get along well. We laugh, work and travel together. We carry it on stage and share stories with our audience,” said Philip. Their goal is simple and straight forward. “As long as it’s fun, we’ll do it. Once it loses the fun we’ll stop and pursue something else, but right now we’re having a great time,” says Philip.

The work is grueling but it’s a labour of love. Ninety percent is work done off stage, with ten percent spent actually performing. “Once we’re on stage it’s like being on vacation…the reward for our hard work,” laughed Philip.

When asked about rituals before going on stage, Philip chuckled and said, “No rituals, no commotion. We’re loose and relaxed back stage. We do give each other space to mentally prepare. Sometimes I’ll read a book before going on stage.”

All one has to do is listen to the richness and inspiring harmony of this group’s music. The sensuality of their tenor sound forces you to close your eyes and imagine you are in love.

The Mistletoe Affair


Feast Dinner Theatre opens new Christmas show

by Michelle René Sexton

Both casts together. Front row: Jennifer Morris, Sarah Langley, Rebecca Parent, Alicia Altass; back row: Fraser McCallum, Bobby McIsaac, Thomas Webb, Jason Burbine, Gordie MacKeeman, Josh Ellis.Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas this year at Feast Dinner Theatres’ Christmas show. With some shows already sold out, The Mistletoe Affair is said to be the most amusing, most entertaining show to date.

Already at the end of its twenty-ninth year, Feast Dinner Theatres boasts the longest running dinner theatre in the Maritimes. Two casts will perform the same Christmas show between four locations: Summerside and Charlottetown, PEI, and Fredericton and Miramichi, New Brunswick. The cast of ten have all performed in one or more feasts, and all have the amazing talent of being able to perform flawless comedy sketches while singing a myriad of songs. The group of young actors are also great friends off stage with a few members performing in the same bands—The Grass Mountain Hobos, and Nudie and the Turks.

This year’s Christmas feast is traditional in the untraditional sense of family. A young, ‘scrooge’ female executive is pregnant and happily single. With no desire for a husband (a donor fathered her baby), and Christmas season fast approaching she’ll receive her traditional ‘romantic’ Christmas with the person she least expects. All ages will enjoy the fun, and the larger the group the more exciting the feast gets. Be prepared for the unexpected as, with all dinner feasts, you never know when it’s your turn to be serenaded, danced to, or picked on by any of the five cast members. The livelier the crowd the greater the fun. And as part of the evening a Christmas buffet is yours to enjoy with ham, turkey, all the traditional fixings, breads, and desserts.

This cast contains five members who perform with popular Maritime rock, honky-tonk, and string bands, one solo singer/songwriter, two attending Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, one co-founder of the award winning improv group 4 Skit’s Sake, one vocal performance graduate of Glenn Gould School, and finally one remarkable Anne Shirley.

Wind Power

Tall ships visited Summerside harbour this summer

by Michelle René Sexton

Bluenose II in SummersideGraceful, historic, and ghostly. Looking out on the Northumberland on an early Friday afternoon, I saw a dense fog brought on from heat slightly obscuring the majestic sails of three tall ships gliding towards Summerside harbour. Watching the ships in full sail I felt transported back in time when a sighting like this was common. I stood, mesmerized, hand over eyes squinting against the sun, catching glimpses of the cream colored sails disappearing then reappearing like ghostly ships, using the slight breeze to guide them.

Bluenose II, which had arrived the morning before, sailed out greeting Pride of Baltimore II, and not much later Playfair. Waiting in harbour was the Royaliste. All ships were anchored for the weekend, treating admirers to free tours. Each ship, dancing on the water tells a story about its history and life at sea. Bluenose II, hails from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and at one time had the largest working main sail in the world. Built to original plans in 1963, she still sails around the world ‘moving like the wind.’

The original Bluenose was first launched in 1921, and known for her racing expertise. She served in a fishing fleet for nearly twenty years, when normal life spans of wooden schooners were ten. Her crew survived ruthless storms where most ships would’ve perished. The death of the Bluenose was a combination of 1930’s depression, onset of World War II, and the invention of diesel powered fishing trawlers. She was sent off in 1942 to West Indian Trading Co., and spent four years as a freighter before her demise on a reef near Haiti in January 1946. Her ending fit any tall ship—death at sea.

The Pride of Baltimore II is a reproduction of an 1812 Clipper Privateer. Built in 1988 she’s used mainly to sail around the world as a ‘Good Will Ambassador’ from the state of Maryland and port of Baltimore. This ship also had a predecessor. Pride of Baltimore I was built in 1977, and the first Baltimore Clipper built in 150 years. She was sunk by an unexpected squall off the coast of Puerto Rico in 1986. The history of Baltimore Clippers is their involvement in the War of 1812, where fearless privateers helped begin the American nation.

The Royaliste’s history is brief. Hailing from San Francisco, California, a reproduction of an 18th Century gunboat and bom ketch, she is now a reenactment vessel complete with skulls garnishing her deck. She emphasized piracy and has a showbiz career, appearing in historical documentary films shown on Discovery and History Channels. She’s also flown colors of three nations; France during French Indian War, Britain at start of Revolutionary War, and the United States during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.

The Playfair is a training ship, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, and is the only Canadian ship commissioned by a reigning monarch. All ships still create new adventures for their historic log books.

Lively Comical Dish

Le Fricot

Review by Michelle René Sexton

Le Fricot anyone? Tucked away in Abrams Village, on a cool summer evening, at the Expo Centre, set on a dark black stage you will find Le Fricot. Does the idea of fricot make your mouth water? Are you hungry? This fricot isn’t the traditional Acadian dish of chicken, onions, potatoes, and carrots. I’m speaking a lively, sometimes comical band made up of six members: Louise Arsenault, Daniel Grouin, Julie Arsenault, Caroline Bernard, and Wayne Robichaud.

Guests settled at large round tables with candlelight illuminating the room and the introduction began. I was in the front row and at first not clear what kind of evening I was in for. A man dressed in a brown trench coat walked out to the audience and in a Twilight Zone voice (in English) introduced Acadian living. On stage the other band members held a picture frame around their heads, and the comedy began.

I didn’t need to speak French to understand what the music was about. A mixture of hand clapping, toe stomping and upbeat music started the show. As with any concert, the audience was game to join in, and we all had a great time. A few slow ballads slipped in and one in particular caught my attention. Loosely translated, its title means “Never Again the Ocean,” a ballad about fishermen losing their boats and livelihoods to the sea. Caroline sang the song with such emotion that I could feel their sorrow.

Louise gave a charged fiddle solo that was not only phenomenal, but had the audience join in with a few “whoo hoos.” She played the fiddle as if her hands were on fire, then sat down on a wooden chair. While not missing a beat with her fiddle, her shoes tapped on the stage, and the audience gave her a standing ovation when she’d finished.

Between the music selections the band would toss in a comical routine or two. Louise sang a French 1950s song about cheating on her boyfriend. She even wore 1950s garb—poodle skirt, bobby socks, penny loafers, and hair in a ponytail. A rubber chicken being literally thrown into the act brought more laughs.

I thoroughly enjoyed the music, and when I asked how the group got together, the simple yet funny answer by Wayne was he was asked to do Le Fricot and agreed as long as he could pick who he wanted to make up the troupe. While the rest of the band put instruments away, Wayne and I sat down and laughed because each question I asked was replied with a comical answer. “We had a limited time to learn songs,” smiled Wayne. “We did pick and choose songs, and basically had since June to learn all of them.”

Summerside Glass


Paragon Glass creates stained glass and teaches the techniques

by Michelle René Sexton

Paragon GlassStained glass is an elegant art. Gothic Age stained glass was translucent pictures, complex mosaics with bits of colored glass joined with lead into intricate patterns. Medieval craftsmen illustrated an idea with natural or realistic images. The 15th Century became more pictures, less atmosphere, and today stained glass is seen more often in homes as well as traditional church windows. Patterns can be as striking as the black panther on a yellow background I saw in the Paragon Stained Glass shop or as intricate as Biblical murals.

Stained glass is glass colored by mixing pigments permanently into glass by fusing colored metallic oxides onto the glass. Fused glass is made by taking two to three layers of glass and melting them together. Both are an imaginative fun filled processes. Anyone can learn the six stages of constructing their own stained glass masterpieces. The Paragon Craft Shop at 216 Water Street in Summerside is the perfect place to get started.

Paragon is a relaxed and fun teaching facility where you can learn techniques for stained glass making. “To your surprise it’s not difficult,” exclaimed Erma Smith, owner and instructor. “It’s basic; a pattern, trace sections, cut them out, and put them together,” smiled Erma, pointing to the myriad of samples hanging from the ceiling, on windows, and on walls. Erma and her husband started their hobby over five years ago and since then the hobby has become a business and an obsession. Their daughter Angela has also been bitten by the stained glass bug, and has become Erma’s partner. “It started as a hobby with my dad but has ended as an obsession,” smiled Angela.

Along with Angela and one other instructor they specialize in a beginner course, which teaches glass scoring techniques; straight cuts, and inside/outside round cuts. It’s designed to give comprehensive understanding of art foil stained glass. The course includes all equipment except the glass itself. Intermediate is next. This course introduces edging, framing and reinforcing alternatives. The advanced class is three-dimensional projects, such as a decorative lampshade, a candy or plant holder, or a candle holder.

The Paragon offers a refresher class for those who have done this before but have forgotten a few steps. The Basic glass cutting is a pre-requisite for patio stone making. The final class is Patio Stone Making. Five to six hour sessions and you will create a personal piece designed for your garden or walkway. Patterns are provided and all techniques will be introduced, including pouring the stone, un-molding it, and making the final touches to your creation.

The City Destroyed Me

Nathan Wiley talks about his new recording

by Michelle René Sexton

Nathan WileyThe City Destroyed Me sounds like an apocalyptic movie epic. Instead the title belongs to Nathan Wiley’s new CD. I sat down with Summerside’s superstar at his favourite hangout, Peeks & Perks Café. Chilled from the cold weather outside, Nathan in a flannel grey shirt and jeans warmed me with his smile, his excitement for the new CD, and a warm cup of coffee. We immediately talked about the music of his new CD of which everything is different and new.

“It’s darker, weirder and more abstract than my first two albums. I made a conscious effort to make this one different,” smiled Nathan. He says that he wants to expand his music and to make each CD different than the last. The difference in this CD is the sound of the music—not as traditional as his previous two, and Nathan plays more guitar on this one, something he’s wanted to do for some time. The music has more edge, and it will be a change for fans.

The new recording is produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) who hails from LA, and has been involved with the music business since age fourteen. Steve enjoyed Nathan’s other albums and wanted to work on the third, so he called Nathan who also wanted to work with Steve, and the two got busy. Nathan flew out west for two intense weeks of recording. “Steve made the job easier because he helped with choices, decisions, and song cuts,” said Nathan.

The pair then met up in Halifax and hung out in a few clubs to check out other styles of music. “Steve loved experimenting. He would hear a band and say ‘we should get this guy for harmonica’ and ‘that would be nice mixed together with that.’ He made this CD fun to work on. We had no real plans we just used what worked,” smiled Nathan, sipping his coffee. Steve also plays the sax and keyboards, Geoff Arsenault is the new drummer, and on bass is Brain Bourne and on some songs Uncle Dale (Desroches). They brought Mike Fraser on board too, who’s engineering and mixing skills are well known in bands such as Aerosmith, Rush, and AC/DC.

Nathan writes songs for himself and others. “I have to be in the mood and alone when I write. I can feel when a song is a ‘me’ song. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it the more it gets used,” smiled Nathan. His goal is to eventually branch out of Canada into the United States. For now he plans on touring across Canada once the CD is released. When asked what his life will be like once he’s a huge rock star, Nathan simply replied, “I’ll stay grounded and close to my family.” Nathan Wiley fans can reach him at nathanwiley.com, and he will personally answer your email.

Canadian Graffiti

The writing is on the wall at Dan’s Muffler in Summerside

by Michelle René Sexton

The definition of graffiti is an inscription or drawing made on public surfaces without consent. Graffiti has existed since the time of ancient Rome and Greece. It was used as a form of communication, spreading social and political issues, as well as advertising. Nowadays, the term is often seen as negative, and graffiti is not considered art. However, this global art form is everywhere and in places like Quebec and parts of Europe it’s allowed and welcome. “A city without graffiti is expressionless,” says PEI graff writer Itsme.

I sat down at Dan’s Muffler in Summerside and spoke with two young writers known as Itsme and Akoz. The two were well-mannered, articulate, and a great source of information. They were talkative about what they do and in no way “dangerous,” as most believe. I took photos of the inside of Dan’s and was taken aback by the attention shown to detail and colour. The art made the previously white greasy walls pop out. “I left them alone in the shop for as long as they needed. I trusted them, and they even cleaned up after themselves,” smiled Richard Rayner, owner of Dan’s Muffler.

“Some people stop and watch,” said Itsme. “We’d rather do a piece than go bombing. Bombing is an adrenalin rush because it goes to larger areas and other writers know each other. Trains are best but harder to find because they travel, but we never paint over the numbers,” said both writers. A “bombing” refers to painting many surfaces in a short time. A “piece” refers to a larger, more labour intensive painting. A “tag” is a writers signature, and a “throw-up” is between a tag and a “piece.”

There are strict rules in graffiti. Writers have to start off in sketch books; they don’t bomb churches, mom and pop stores, or residential houses. “We don’t write vulgar pictures or hateful messages. Those are the beginners. Our writing is more technical, and each writer has their own style, tag, and name. Writers respect other writers,” said Itsme. They play off their environment and what’s around them. A closer look will show he’s right. The letters of each writer show talent and the “beginners” are giving the real writers a bad reputation. “Writers who are real don’t do graffiti because it’s illegal. They do it as art,” smiled Itsme.

When asked why they do graffiti, both agreed it was hard to say why. “I like the letters,” said Akoz. “I want my name to travel and people to know me. I want to walk places and see my work,” grinned Itsme. Also, who’s to say graffiti is a bad thing when lots of people have done it. Writing something like “Michelle was here” many times in places, leaving a mark for someone to see—that’s graffiti.

Anniversary Year


Summerside theatre complex celebrates ten years in the business

by Michelle René Sexton

Harbourfront Theatre staff, from left: General Manager Maurice Gallant, Director of Youth Programs Joady Walton, Director of Operations Mary Gallant, Office Manager Laurie CarrPast, present, and future give cause to celebrate as the Harbourfront Theatre honours its ten year anniversary. What better way to do this than reflecting on the past, changing the present, and reaching high for the future. In the past the theatre was used strictly as a rental facility, but that had huge implications and made it hard to develop its own identity. “We had a few lean years,” remarked Maurice Gallant, General Manager.

In the summers of 1997 and 1998 the theatre mounted Maritime Star Musical and Jamboree, both successful and the start of more productions to come. “People thought it couldn’t be done,” said Maurice. It ended up working better than anyone could have hoped. “It was a catalyst for some arts and doing more things,” said Joady Walton, Director of Youth Programs. Community effort and support helped make the theatre a success and in 2003 a turn around in management brought a different vision which helped the theatre finally come into its own.

In its present state the theatre has a stronger involvement with the community. Schools perform high quality plays with realistic props. There are also more youth programs. “We do a lot! We rent, produce, and present. We’re well balanced in all three. The goal was to become more of a community based theatre. It worked to be connected to what sells with the community, what clients want, and more development,” said Maurice. In addition the theatre boasts its own production company, which stages seven to eight shows a year (Melville Boys, Wizard of Oz). The theatre also works well due to its fantastic volunteers. “They’re a huge part of us,” smiled Mary Gallant, Director of Operations. Another aid is the new sign that stands proudly in front of the theatre, a generous gift from Oran Canada. “It’s our sign now,” smiled Joady. “Before we were sharing signs with the yacht club and waterfront mall so things got confusing about what or who was playing where. Now we have our own sign displaying what we do.”

Reaching for a stronger future, the Jubilee will hold more fundraising projects such as selling off remaining theatre seats at $1000 each, sponsorship books, and offering a subscription series and program. Anne and Gilbert will return to the stage in the summer of 2007. Cinema showings will continue as will concerts—a modern and classical series—, weddings, and more. “The theatre is in constant use,” agreed Maurice, Joady, and Mary. The community is starting to build the theatre’s popularity. “We owe a lot of people thanks: The City of Summerside, Government, the province, partnership with the Wellness Centre, and finally tourism,” said Maurice.

Tourism and a small development boom in old downtown will also help the theatre in future. The theatre plans a change in name dropping the word “Jubilee” and choosing “Harbourfront Theatre.” The community will be surprised at first, but change has proved to work well with this theatre. The Harbourfront Theatre is located at 124 Harbour Drive, Summerside. Phone: 902-888-2787 or 800-708-6505. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Jimmy Rankin shows

November 22 at Trailside Café
November 23 at Harbourfront Theatre Jimmy Rankin's new Moving East (o [ ... ]

Dancing with the Stars

Hospice PEI’s event celebrates 7th year October 20
Murphy Community Centre October 20, 2018  [ ... ]

21st century Anne

Producing a 54-year-old play for a modern audience Select dates to September 22
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Charlottetown’s Historic Squares exhibit...

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