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Where’s Oscar? He’s making you laugh at the Sterndale Bennett with Playgoers of Lethbridge

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Where’s Oscar? Playgoers  of Lethbridge  tells you he can be found at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Feb. 20-23. The local theatre company is excited to be the first play in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett. They have drawn cast members from Couttes, Taber and Lethbridge for this  hilarious comedy which is sure to make you laugh out loud.

Christian (Josh Williams) and Bernard Mallard ( Rob Berezay) have a difference of opinion as Manuel  ( Howard Pearson) tries to mediate during rehearsals for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of Where’s Oscar? at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Feb. 20-23. Photo by Richard Amery
Tom Gillespie’s adaptation of the French farce features misunderstandings, mispronunciations, crazy accents, lots of physical comedy and lots of fun as cosmetics magnate Bernard Mallard (not pronounced like the duck) is about to have a really bad day.

“Bernard Mallard is a cosmetics tycoon and his accountant Christian steals $34,000 from him, which he converts into jewelry. And Mr Mallard discovers his daughter is ‘pregnant’ with his chauffeur’s baby and his maid has quit to marry millionaire DeWitt the Zit. There’s false marriage proposals, a bag of jewels that magically and persistently  change into a  bundle of ladies underwear, and a mysterious woman from his past with a big secret. It’s convoluted, tension building, harried journey to a happy ending for all, summarized Rob Berezay, who is excited to tackle the comedy as both director and in the lead role of Mr. Bernard Mallard for the third time.
“It’s very reminiscent of British farce,” he said.

He both directed and starred in the play in Milk River and in Raymond.

“I love the script. It’s hilarious and I get to lose it every night,” he said.
 Berezay brings back Howard Pearson as the butler Manuel, but most of the rest of the 11 member cast are new to the Playgoers of Lethbridge stage as well as some familiar faces like Jeff Graham as the body builder masseur Phillipe, Elaine Jagielski as Mallard’s wife Isabel Mallard, Jocelyn Steinborn as the mystery woman Charlotte and Richard Amery as Vladimir.

 Newcomers included Josh Williams as the smooth criminal, conniving accountant Christian Martin, Teresa Huszar as Trixie the ambitious maid, Halla Wagner as Mallard’s daughter Colette, Meghan Richter as Bernadette and  Tyler Vanden Dool as the ever elusive chauffeur Oscar.
The play has been been a collaborative production including all the cast.


Lots of blues and alternative music happening this week

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It’s a blues, blues world this week with several blues and roots shows happening. Erin Ross returns to the Slice this week. Photo by Richard Amery

 The week kicks off on Feb. 20 with the jazz jam at HBO3 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
 If the Derina Harvey Band didn’t give you enough of a Celtic rock fix last week, don’t miss Newfoundland’s the Irish Descendants’ return to Average Joes, Feb. 21. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
But there are also several alternative rock shows at the old Firehall. There will be a loud experimental rock and keyboard pop show at the Old Firehall, Feb. 21 with local electronic noise pop duo Touching God, Calgary electronic experimental techno artist Trigger Warning and  local garage rock duo Cope. The show begins at 8 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
The next night, Feb. 22, is all about metal with  Red Deer hard rock band Dusty Tucker, Medicine Hat metalcore band For A Life Unburdened, Calgary metal core band Lacuna and Taber hard rock/ metal band Eons of Earth. Admission is $10 for the show which begins are  8 p.m.

St. John born, Vancouver based  rock band Chase the Bear  and local band the Decadent Phase play the Slice, Feb. 22.
The Owl features a special show, Feb. 22— the return of Bands as bands begins at 8:15 p.m with  Black Roses for Breakfast as Billie Eilish, Mercury as Metallica , Chief Mountain as the Ramones, Mombod as the Runaways and The Rainbow Patrol being KISS.
 And Pretty, Witty and Gay kicks off with a new play reading at Club Didi as Calgary playwright Ryan Diller  makes the first public reading of “Public Arts Ohio,” at 9 p.m.  There is $10 cover.

 Over at Casino Lethbridge, Fast Times will be rocking the pop on Friday and Saturday.
Saturday, Feb. 23 is all about the blues.
 Calgary’s Erin Ross returns to the Slice, Feb. 23 with Chris Drew plus George Arsene playing an opening set and previewing the upcoming new Rancho Deluxe album.

The Owl Acoustic Lounge is competing with that blues and roots show with the always popular Papa King and The Boogiemen. King will be joined by bassist Doug Freeman and keyboardist TJ Waltho. Admission is by donation.

 And the Lethbridge Folk Club welcomes back Bill Bourne, who will be playing The Lethbridge College Cave, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. sharp with openers Reid Seibert and Bruce MacKay. Bourne can play everything from Celtic music to blues and folk. He was last in Lethbridge at the GeomaticAttic with Tri Continental, last March, was half of Celtic duo Bourne and MacLeod, Celtic band The Tannahill Weavers and was even a  member of the Real McKenzies in their early days. Tickets are $25 members, $20 for invited guests which, as always includes an annual membership for Folk Club events.


New West rocks the country in new music comedy review

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It is the last week to catch  New West Theatre’ “surprise ” production of Rocker’s Gone Country. It’s a surprise because they usually save their big music -comedy revues for summer.
 Rocker’s Gone Country is as entertaining as   you’d expect. Also true to the  title the show is all about the rock side of country music, particularly ’90s country.Rylan Kunkel returns to New West in Rockers Gone Country. Photo L.A. beat file photo
The show opens with a group performance of Shania Twain’s “ Rock this Country, and continue strong with  Rylan Kunkel’s  excellent performance of Alan Jackson’s “ Gone Country.”

There aren’t as many group numbers in this show, but there are a lot of numbers featuring one or two cast members backed by a couple of others.

 There is also a lot of comedy, some of it pretty inspired, particularly a bit featuring Devon Brayne talking to Erica Hunt about how much has changed since he’s been away. Hunt explains to him how many bars and clubs have either moved for changed ownership.
It is great to see Brayne back with New West. He returned last year as Johnny Cash in  their production of “Million Dollar Quartet.” Brayne brings his Cash back on a show stealing solo acoustic performance of Cash’s cover of “Hurt.” His bartender steals the show for some of the best comedy bits, and one of the few where the cast go full on hillbilly. The rest of the humour is pretty straight forward with no accents. Though Erica Hunt’s old woman goes before a judge. Hunt and Scott Carpenter’s Lethbridge news break was pretty popular with the crowd, Friday, Feb. 15 as well. One of the more surreal comedy bids is  Coalhurst interpretive dance company featuring Devon Brayne and Rylan Kunkel in black tights miming out titles of popular country songs throughout the night.

The band is solid as well with Scott Mezei on guitar, bassist Greg Paskuski playing more guitar than usual, Bente Hansen covering most of the bass on her keyboards and drummer Theo Lysyk.
 Mezei and Paskuski take centre stage with acoustic guitars  to accompany Erica Hunt and Kathy Zaborsky singing  Fleetwood Mac/The Dixie Chcik’s “Landslide.”

Cast member Kathy Zaborsky appears in the background adding extra keyboards. Kyle Gruninger and Devon Brayne add extra guitar on a couple of numbers as well. Gruninger leads the band  on an excellent rendition of Jon Bon Jovi’s  Blaze of Glory.”


CKXU amped about expanded transmitter and Into the Realm of Radio Fundrive

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 Thanks to the community,  local University of Lethbridge based, community radio station CKXU has expanded their signal reach, so people all over Southern Alberta who are tired of mainstream radio have another listening option.
“ There is always room for more local content. The door is always open at CKXU to start your radio journey,” said CKXU program director Adrianna Smith said.CKXU station manager Aaron Trozzo is excited about the new transmitter and Fundrive. Photo by Richard Amery
 After five years of planning, grant application and local fundraising, mostly from five Fundrives, CKXU is now broadcasting at 2,900 watts at 88.3 f.m., upgrading from the previous 150 watt transmitter, which means you can listen all the way out to Claresholm in the north, Fort Macleod in the west, down to Coutts in the south including most of the Blood reserve and out to Taber on the east. And depending on environmental factors and the strength of your car stereo, the signal reaches even further, even out to Vulcan.

“ All you need is a radio. You don’t need a computer or a streaming service, smart phone or app to listen to us now,” said  Smith, noting the station has over 40 local shows and 20 other shows  from across Canada, plus  several others in training.
“This transmitter is a long time coming and I feel privileged to be part of it,” she said.
“CKXU is 100 per cent community stakeholder driven. We have no affiliation to any outside entities. CKXU is as real as you and me,” said station manager Aaron Trozzo.

 The on air personalities include community members and U of L students who are responsible for their own programming.
 “It has been a real passion project. It has been a real long term goal for CKXU to become a bigger community presence,” Trozzo continued, adding the project took five years to complete including a long year of solid planning and another four years of fundraising and tracking down and completing matching government grants.
“ We started planning in 2013. And 2018 was the build year though there are still a few things to work out. It feels really great to have it completed,” he noted.

“It’s come with a new set of responsibilities financially and socially. We want to increase the quality of the programming so we will provide better learning opportunities for the DJs of our responsibilities,” he continued, adding that means staff must ensure additional training is in place to maintain and increase professionalism among the on air personalities.
“With the expanded reach there are 100,000 more possible listeners all over  Southern Alberta,” he observed.

 One of the big on air changes during the initial testing period was playing station IDS every 15 minutes about the signal change and giving  a phone number to call with concerns, which the station passed.

“ So we don’t have to play those anymore. The main reason for those was safety because a lot of different things use FM frequencies particularly airplanes. So those gave them a chance to call us if there was any interference, Smith said.

“ It‘s really been a long time, so we really appreciate everybody’s patience,” Smith said.

Trozzo said the transmitter cost around $120,000 including a combination of grants and the proceeds from four CKXU FUNDrives.

“We had to use a portion of the FUNDrives to keep the lights on in the station. But the transmitter is solid proof of where your dollars went to in the community,” Trozzo said.
The station is getting ready for the next FunDrive, which has the theme “Into The Radio Realm” which is March 16-22. Proceeds from this years $30,000 goal will go towards updating the CKXU website.


L.A. Radio

CKXU University of Lethbridge RadioUniversity of Lethbridge campus radio. Click here for heaps of great programing appealing to all demographics and musical tastes, spoken word and news.

Also the home of  the Hotrock Blues Beat Saturday nights @ 8-10 p.m. and Disco Sucks: Punkin’ old school Wednesdays @ 8 p.m.-10 p.m.  with L.A. Beat editor Richard Amery.

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L.A. Beat is Lethbridge, Alberta's only online arts and entertainment magazine.

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