Entertainment

Islander chosen to star in Watermark Theatre production after nationwide search

Brielle Ansems was sitting amongst the crowd at P.E.I.’s Waterfront Theatre catching the 2010 production of Pygmalion when she saw a performance that changed her life.

Marvelled by Rebecca Parent’s performance as Eliza Doolittle — one of the lead characters in the play — Ansems couldn’t help but think maybe one day she’d be the one on that stage.

“I just remember looking at her and just being like ‘oh wow, she’s just so good, she’s so strong’ … ‘I would love so do this,'” she recalled to CBC’s Mainstreet.

‘I would just love if there were some girls in that audience this summer thinking the same thing: that if they want to do this, it’s more than possible.’ — Brielle Ansems

Fast forward eight years and Ansems has fulfilled that dream. After a nationwide search, she was chosen to star as Josie Hogan in the Watermark Theatre’s production of the Broadway play A Moon for the Misbegotten.

“I got an email from the [general manager] of the Watermark … and she told me that they were offering me the part,” she said.

“I was in bed, I was all settled, ready to go to sleep I was so tired. I opened up the email and I immediately had to put my laptop aside, jump out of my bed and have a dance party in my bedroom.”

‘It’s a little daunting’

The Ontario-born singer-songwriter and actor moved to Montague, P.E.I., at a young age and got some of her first gigs playing cèilidhs and benefit concerts in the area, she said.

As Ansems grew older, she performed in school plays and played music across the province before getting a “serious taste” for theatre by taking part in some productions across P.E.I. and the Maritimes. 

She eventually turned her attention to dinner theatre for several years before eventually landing at Holland College’s School of Performing Arts.

Brielle Ansems Holland College

‘It’s a little daunting, it’s something I definitely went back and forth on for quite a while,’ Ansems says. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

“It’s a little daunting, it’s something I definitely went back and forth on for quite a while,” she said.

She said was lucky to have such a great support system, but acknowledged that she did hesitate on fully committing to acting as she unsure if she was ready to take the plunge.

But landing the role as Josie Hogan was “a good sign” that she made the right choice.

“When I found out I got it it just kind of let me know ‘OK, I’m on the right path, this is going to be good, I’m supposed to be doing this,'” she said.

Inspiring girls to take on big roles

Information on the rest of the cast hasn’t yet been revealed, but rehearsals begin soon and Ansems is already working on her character’s Irish accent.

When she thinks back to that show she saw when she was a teenager, Ansems said she hopes someone just like her is sitting in the audience this summer and is moved by her performance.

“I would just love if there were some girls in that audience this summer thinking the same thing — that if they want to do this, it’s more than possible,” she said.

“To see such a strongly written female character being the lead in a show, I think it’s a really important thing to see right now.”

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