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U of L's Ubu Roi satirizes politics

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The University of Lethbridge opens their drama season with a nineteenth century French play “Ubu Roi,” running Oct. 3-7 in University Theatre.

Shea Heatherington and Corey Ariss rehearse a scene from Ubu Roi. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s about a narcisstic woman who convinces her husband to overthrow the king of Poland so he can be the sole ruler and he ends up being a terrible leader,” said director Jay Whitehead.

 “Ubu Roi”was written by Alfred Jarry in 1896 and translated into English by Barbara Wright.
Père Ubu was a mediocre and unqualified leader, doing and saying what it took to keep power in his greedy hands. The play, which takes place in Poland, or nowhere, deals with the cruelty of oppressors and the stupidity of the human condition. Sometimes described as an absurdist parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Ubu Roi has been called one of the most excessive political satires of all theatre history. The play ranks among the most original and powerful burlesques of all time.

There are 18 students involved in the production.
“It’s a very physical play. We’ve stripped everything down to the  bare essentials. There’s bare minimum stage and minimal lighting. it’s a very immersive experience, Whitehead continued, noting  while the subject matter is unsettling relevant to events happening today, it is very funny.

“It’s a very funny play. It’s very absurdist. When it premiered in the 1800s, it created a stir and caused a riot on opening night,” he continued.

“ “It’s very satirical and  critical of political leaders. One of the reasons I wanted to do it is  because of it’s relevance to events today. We live in a time when we have leaders who are arguably unqualified to do the job and make poor decisions,” he continued.
“ But I love this play because it is fun. Sometimes the plays we do are more serious in nature,” Whitehead continued.


Last chance to catch New West’s Barn Dance

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New West Theatre brings their Barn Dance to a close with three more shows including two shows on Saturday, which will also mark the last shows at the Yates theatre, before it cShelby Wilson performing in New west Theatre’s Barn Dance. Photo by Richard Ameryloses for renovations.
As expected, New West Theatre’s second summer show of the season is all about country music— namely more modern country music, but with a couple classics from Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and the show opening Hank Williams Jr.’s “ All my Rowdy Friends.”

The set is designed to look like a barn with the band playing against a barn wall, plus several movable wall and corall and wooden bar and bar stools which are moved into place as needed.

 I’m not a huge country music fan, but this show includes quite a few ’90s country nuggets, which I used to play back in the day when I was in a country band, namely the Dixie Chicks’“Goodbye Earl,” which is performed with a lot of sass and humour by the female cast members Erica Hunt, Kathy Zaborsky and newcomer Andrea Bailey, who though she is studying for her education degree in Edmonton, I hope she returns for another New West show.

 Andrea Bailey is a real pleasure to watch, she struts around the stage with sassy attitude and a mischievous grin.

She is hilarious in her comedy bits, especially as a mother writing a letter to her son as she delivers absolutely corny lines and puns in a deadpan voice you can’t help but to laugh oAJ Baragar performs in New West’s Barn Dance. Photo by Richard Ameryut loud at. The comedy as a general rule relies a bit much on rural stereotypes and delightfully awful puns, for which I had trouble restraining myself from shouting out the punchline on a couple, but which also took off in delightfully unexpected hilarious tangents on others.

 While Bailey is nestled in the corner reading her hilarious letter out loud, the rest of the stage is being set for a wonderful version of  The Band Perry’s “ If I Die Young,” sung by the always delightful Kathy Zaborsky, which also allows guitarist Scott Mezei to show off some mandolin skills.

Bailey shows some mighty powerful  pipes especially on numbers like Trisha Yearwood’s “She‘s In Love with The Boy.“


New West goes western in Barn Dance

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 New West Theatre turns Yates Theatre into a Barn Dance, Aug. 8-26.

Kyle Gruninger spins Kathy Zaborsky around during a version of Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight” during New West Theatre’s presentation of Barn Dance, running Aug. 8-26 in the Yates Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
 “It’s called Barn Dance and it’s a celebration of contemporary country music, going back to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ heyday to really contemporary like Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood,” described director Jay Whitehead.

“ We‘re in Southern Alberta where country music is very popular. So we think audiences here will really enjoy a country show,” Whitehead continued.
 The show includes the usual crop of country hits, choreography, singing, dancing and comedy.

“There is a lot of country  hootin’ and hollering,” Whitehead said.
“I love working with Jay. He]s a Calgary boy, so he has a great feel for contemporary country,” said cast member/ vocal director Kathy Zaborsky.

 The cast includes some familiar faces including Zaborsky, Erica Hunt, Kyle Gruninger, newer faces AJ Baragar, Rylan Kunkel, Shelby Wilson and newcomer Andrea Bailey.

 Kathy Zaborsky is excited to not only perform in Barn Dance, but also to handle vocal direction as well as arrange several of the songs with guitarist Scott Mezei.

“We’ve been apprenticed to arrange a couple of the songs for the show including Carrie underwood’s ‘Cowboy Casanova,’ ‘She’s In Love with the Boy’ by Trisha Yearwood, ‘Fancy’ by Reba McEntire and “City of New Orleans’ by Willie Nelson,’ so that‘s been an interesting challenge,” Zaborsky said.

 As a bonus, she welcomes old friend Andrea Bailey into the Fold, who she met in Canmore  in 2012 while working on the musical  ‘O Canada Eh’ and have been friends ever since
“Kathy called me up and said they needed a student,” said Bailey, who returned to school to earn her education degree at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

“So I leaped at the opportunity,” she continued.


Coutts Arts Centre Arts Festival equals fun in the sun near Nanton

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Shakespeare in the park’s production of A Comedy of Errors was one of several performances during the Coutts Arts Centre arts festival, July 23, just outside of Nanton.

A good sized crowd relaxed  in the sweltering sunny Sunday day, Jordan Payne gets ready to perform with Shakespeare in the park's Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Ameryenjoying a variety of performances.

 I always enjoy Lethbridge Jazz combo the Groove Apostles., so was glad to have caught them.

 They began with a set of upbeat instrumental jazz which gave everyone a chance to solo.

Dale Ketcheson at the Coutts Centre Arts Festival. Photo by Richard Amery Shelby Wilson joined them on vocals to sing a variety of  R and B and soulful hits including  The Four Seasons (Oh What A Night) December,1963) and Carole King’s “I Feel Earth Move.”

 Classical guitarist Dale Ketcheson and percussionist Joe Porter set the mood for Shakespeare by performing an array of gorgeously picked classical melodies, some dating back to the 1600s.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat EditorShelby Wilson perfoms with the Groove Apostles at the Coutts Centre arts Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
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