You are here: Home Drama Beat Latest Drama News New West Theatre bursting with optimism for Wonderstruck
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

L.A. Beat

New West Theatre bursting with optimism for Wonderstruck

E-mail Print

New West Theatre is always up for  giving audiences  a much needed shot of optimism. This summer’s  music revue show Wonderstruck, running Aug. 9-26 in the Yates Theatre is designed to do that through the music of the ’70s and ’80s.


Madisan Cowan performs ‘September” in New West Theatre]s new show Wonderstruck. Photo by Richard Amery

“We didn't originally decide to focus on an era, but we wanted to have a theme of dreaming and imagination. And music from the ’70s and ’80s just fit. There’s less focus on ’50s and ’60s music,” said artistic Director Kelly Reay, who  is excited to work with familiar faces musical director Kelly Zaborsky, Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter and Kyle Gruninger plus relative newcomers like Alinafe Lupiway and Katie Fellger and newcomers MadisanCowan and  Ethan  Bintu-Watt, who are excited to spread their creative wings  for  Wonderstruck. Not to mention the talented band, drummer Keenan Pezderic, Guitarist Scott Mezei and bassist  Greg Paskuski.


“The past few years have been a little rocky, so we’re just excited to be able to dream again and be optimistic about the future,” Reay enthused, adding the set is designed to look like a starry night sky, to reinforce the optimistic feel.


He noted it is exciting to be getting back to normal after the pandemic.


“People were apprehensive abut getting together in large groups,” he observed, adding it has been a few years since the  had two music comedy revues in the summer.

“We’ve juggled the schedule a little bit. There will be another music comedy revue in February this year, “ The Legends of Rock and Country”


For now New West is focusing on Wonderstruck, which followed the tried and true formula of mixing comedy, dance and music.


“It‘s a mix of music, comedy and dance. It‘s a formula that works, but we don’t want to do the same thing every year,” he said, noting most of the show is completely new, so though the title “Wonderstruck”  may lead to memories of the TV show “ the Wonder Years,” there will be no “With A Little Help From my Friends.”


“We did that a couple years ago,” he continued.


Reay is excited to work with the cast, especially newer faces Madisan Cowan and Ethan Bintu-Watt, who get to take a more prominent role in this show.


“They were a really pleasant discoveries. They  are really capable, so they get to take somel features roles, so we’re excited about that,” he continued.

 Ethan Bintu-Watt,19, is excited to be part of one more New West Theatre show before he begins studies at Mount Royal in Calgary in the fall.


“It’s what I want to do for a living . It’s been great. I love working with New West. It’s  all very fun and exciting,” Bintu- West said, adding he is enjoying the ’70s and ’80s music, though it predates him by a quite a few years.


“My parents played a lot of’70s and ’80s music,” he said.


Ethan Bindu Watt performs ‘September” in New West Theatre]s new show Wonderstruck. Photo by Richard Amery

“We’ve got some Hall and Oates, Stevie Wonder and more Earth Wind and Fire,” he said. He joins Madisan Cowan centre stage to belt out Earth , Wind and Fire’s “September.”


 He has enjoyed working on the falsetto melodies of the song.


“We work really hard at it. We’ve been practicing it a lot,” he said, noting they began rehearsals for the show in mid July.


“ Everybody is so friendly and talented. I couldn't ask for anything to be better,” he said.


“He noted his second show has been a lot more challenging.


“It’s been harder. The first one, everyone was just showing me the ropes. This time I’m taking a step up. I’ve got more feature roles,” he said.

“It‘s challenging but a lot of fun,” he continued, adding he is also enjoying the comedy of the show.


“ There‘s lots of dad jokes. And I love the skits. Not to spoil it, but I’m in one about nuns,” he said. 


Reay is excited to welcome back Alinafe  Lupiway.


“He’s so laid back backstage. And Erica, Scott, Kyle and Katie are always great to work with, he said.


 Drummer Keenan Pezderic gets to sing a number.


“ We always have a song for him,” he said.


 Reay is looking forward to the show.

“ t will be a lot of fun and celebratory,” Reay summarized.


“I hope people will  want to come out of the show wanting to sing and dance and want to come again,” Bintu- Watt enthused.

 Wonderstruck  is at yates Theatre, Aug. 9-26 at 7:30 p.m.  Wednesday through Saturdays, plus 1 p.m. matinees on the Saturdays.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor

The ONLY Gig Guide that matters


Music Beat

Lights. Camera. Action.
Inside L.A. Inside

CD Reviews


Music Beat News

Art Beat News

Drama Beat News

Museum Beat News