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SOAR festival trimmed down, but features We Are All Treaty People

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A trimmed down SOAR festival kicks off a busy weekend of dance, magic and music  at Casa, May 30 and 31.

W.I.T.S Play the SOAR festival this year. photo by Richard Amery
There have been a few changes for  the fourth year of the event, the biggest changes being there are only two cabaret nights this year and the professional development seminars which used to be part of  SOAR have been spread  throughout the year instead just for one weekend.
“It’s difficult for people to book off an entire weekend,” said Allied Arts Council communications manager Kelaine Devine.


“SOAR started  because of the Lt. Governor‘s celebrations in 2015 on the condition that there would be a legacy project. So that’s what this is,” added Allied Arts Council projects/membership coordinator Muffy McKay.


“It has evolved into what it is— two cabaret nights,” McKay continued, adding art exhibits at Casa continue to be part of SOAR.


“I always look forward to seeing what Darcy Logan has done,” added Devine noting a community Gif display showing on the screen outside CASA is part of SOAR.
 There will be dance, music and magic on both nights of SOAR.


Claire Lint and Sidney Murdoch will be performing a modern dance  number  “When Two Lines Meet” beginning at 7 p.m. on both nights, May 30 and 31.


The cabarets feature new magic show from local magicians. Ben Price’s new show Rabbit Stew is at the SOAR Cabaret, May 30. Jeff Newman Mentalism presents his new show Trickster, May 31.


 The music this year will be provided by Mercedes Fawns on May 30 and local alternative electronica band W.I.T.S , who have been prominent faces at various FLIPfest fundraisers throughout the year, on May 31.

Ben Price Magic returns to the SOAR festival. Photo by Richard Amery
 Devine noted the events are family friendly.


“All of these performers have performed at previous SOAR cabarets, though Ben Price’s “Rabbit Stew” contains some adult content.
 SOAR is designed for developing up and coming  artists.


“Some previous performers like Jeff Charlton wanted to come back, but couldn’t because he got a job in film. Griffin Cork wanted to come back too, but he got a job in Vancouver  on a TV show,” said Devine, adding she is pleased to see previous SOAR performers moving on to bigger things in the arts, as developing up and coming artists by giving them opportunities to perform is what SOAR is all about.
“It’s been stripped down this year, but we’ve kept the same format,” Devine said.

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Hatrix revisits familiar faces in A Comedy of Tenors

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It’s fun to revisit familiar characters. Hatrix Theatre is doing just that with their production of Ken Ludwig’s 2015 comedy A Comedy of Tenors, which runs May 24-26 at the Eagles Hall.The Three Tenors Clive Abbott, Greg VanDeurzen and  Colin Bluekens are ready for a Comedy of Tenors, May 24-26. Photo by Richard Amery
The play is an unofficial sequel to Ludwig’s 1986 comedy Lend Me A Tenor, picks up shortly after the antics of  “Lend Me A Tenor, ” in 1930’s Paris, where apoplectic producer Henry Saunders is ready to put on the concert of the century, if his cast doesn’t either quit or kill each other first.


 Several familiar characters return in this production including constantly quarrelling couple Maria (played by Vicki Gibson) and Italian tenor star Tito Merelli (played by Clive Abbott), Saunders, ( played by Stephen Graham), who also played Saunders in Hatrix’s 2014 production of Lend me A Tenor,) and Saunders’ ever faithful dogsbody Max (played by Colin Bluekens) who has not only  become an opera star in his own right, but also is worried about his pregnant wife, Saunders’ daughter Maggie, back home in America.


 Add in  Merelli’s daughter Mimi (Emilie Kidd), her new beau, up and coming opera star and Merelli’s rival Carlo Nucci (played by Greg VanDeurzen) and sultry Russian soprano Racon (Carrie-Ann Worden), slamming doors, plenty of misunderstandings, misidentifications, sexual innuendos and operatic references and you have a good time.


 Clive Abbott wears multiple hats  in the show, as he is not only playing Tito, but Tito’s bellhop twin Beppo, plus a talking tongue and is also building the set.
“I like the idea of playing dual roles and using different voices for each of them,” said Abbott, a veteran of many Hatrix productions including last November’s “12 Angry Jurors.“
“I really like this cast and being directed by Karolyn Harker,” Abbott continued.


Vicki Gibson, who was also in 12 Angry Jurors got the acting bug from Karolyn Harker.

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May the Fourth be with you for this year’s Children’s festival

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Star Wars soars for  the seventh annual Lethbridge Children’s Festival which celebrates Star Wars weekend with a variety of Star Wars related activities d May 4 and 5.Darth Vader and Chewbacca hanging out with robot Yoda. Photo by Richard Amery.
There will be several Star Wars themed activities happening during the popular annual family event, including a meet and greet and photo opportunities with Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and the Star Wars van.


“There’s a slew of stuff. We have a lot going on for this children’s festival,” said Exhibition park marketing manager Doug Kryzanowski.
 The hours are Friday, May 4 from 3-8 p.m. and Saturday May 5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


There will be over 21 entertainment and interactive events happening this year , plus a trade show, special guests and much more.
 While in previous years, some events were pay as you go, this year everything is free of charge with your $5 admission.


“We have a lot of great entertainment lined up this year for children’s festival, not only Star Wars things, but it is May 4 and Star Wars weekend, so we wanted to do a little bit of stuff based around that. But we have a lot of great children’s entertainment this year and a lot of new things this year,” said  entertainment co-ordinator Jackie French.


“One of our main acts this year is a motivational educational guy name Steve Harmer who does a motivational magic show. He’s toured western Canada he’s gone to a lot of schools, he has chosen to combine his skills as an educator and an entertainer to present motivational magic to communicate all across Western Canada. Though the use of his magic, juggling, comedy, music and storytelling, Steve delivers meaningful message that inspire educate and motivate children and adults,” she described.


 Harmer will be performing a couple shows a day on the Movie Mill Stage, located in the South Pavilion at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.Doug Kryzanowski announces the highlights of this year’s Children’s Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
 “We also have Princess story-time. The princesses attending will be Rapunzel, Cinderella and Beauty. They will be doing an awesome stage show and storytelling show in full costumes as well as doing a singalong  with the kids,” French continued.


 After each show, twice a day they will be doing meet and greets in the enchanted forest at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m..
 “In our Star Wars interactive area we’ll be doing photo ops with Chewbacca, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren and the Star Wars van will be there. We encourage adults as well as kids to come dressed as your favourite Star Wars Character and have a chat with robotic Yoda. We will also have the Black Shadow Clone trooper mini-car in  that Star Wars interactive areas,” French said.


There will be more Star Wars photo ops with 501 first Legion Vader’s Fist.
 “They come dressed in costume and they accept donations, which are going straight to BACA (Bikers against Child abuse.).”
 Back by popular demand, VRKADE virtual reality games returns and the main pavilion will be dedicated to inflatable jumps. Wendy and the Frosty will be visiting including visits from Frosty Cup and the red heady Wendy girl herself.


 In addition to Star Wars, the Ghostbusters, Stay Puft and Ectro Truck will be on hand throughout the festival for photo opportunities.
There are several new features this year including laser tag from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day in the South Pavilion.
“New this year there will be a big area in South Pavilion for laser tag. So all the kids can come play laser tag,” she said.

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One Act Play festival brings female perspectives to stage

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A sold out One Act play festival at Casa, April 6 had a strongly female perspective.Helen won Playgoers of Lethbridge’s  One Act play competition at Casa, April 6. Photo by Richard Amery
 So much so that there was only one male actor in a minor role in the whole evening.


In addition to being all female actors, the evening featured all original scripts as well.
 The first and longest play, “Helen” by University of Lethbridge student and playwright Megan Couch explored the Sack of Troy from a female perspective.

Love‘s Best By at the one Act Play Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
The actors all played multiple roles, both male and females utilizing masks and various hand props. They also featured the one male actor, making a jarring entrance at the end as Agamemnon looking for his wife “Helen” who had disfigured herself to avoid being recognized after telling her story and trying to defend herself against a group of angry residents blaming her for the attack.

The result was equally moving, disturbing and thought provoking, and ended up winning best script and best play with good reason.
It will be eligible to compete in the Provincial competition on Fort McMurray in May.


Playgoers of Lethbridge, who host the annual event, brought their entry next.
 Elaine Jagielski penned her the script “Love’s Best By” exploring a  group of friends meeting over a glass of wine to discuss their lives and focusing on their friend , Cathy, played by Jocelyn Steinborn, who made the tough decision of telling her friends about dating a younger man, who had once baby sat her children. It played like an episode of the Golden Girls on stage. There were a lot of heartwarming moments and lots of humour which the audience really appreciated after the heaviness of the first play. Steinborn ended up winning the best actress award for this year.
The festival ended on another sad and disturbing note.

Madeline Smith in If there’s one Thing I Know is True. Photo by Richard Amery
“If There’s One Thing I Know is True” was the one woman show about a young university student negotiating the perils of young adulthood including room mates, depression, frenemies, frats and eventually a date rape.


 Madeline Smith, who I barely recognized since I last saw her in last year’s Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Comedy of Errors, did an outstanding job exploring a numerous facets of her character, not to mention learning all of her lines. Though, I like  adjudicator Greg McArthur, had a little trouble determining the meaning of voice over dialogue.

— By Richard Amery, L.a. Beat Editor

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