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Lots of laughter as New West Celebrate 30 years

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New West Theatre “Celebrates” 30 years with a whole lot of humour in this year’s music-comedy revue— with an emphasis on comedy.

Grahame Renyk and the cast of Celebrate. Photo by Richard Amery
 The talented cast, including long time members and directors Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter, representing each of the past three decades, delved back through 30 years of scripts and songs to design this show. Hunt, Carpenter and co musical director Kathy Zaborsky represent the ’90s, Jessica Ens and Grahame Renyk represent the 2000s and Katie Fellger and  Rylan Kunkel represent the 2010s.

 As always the cast exude joy and happiness and a strong Up with People vibe through singing and dancing, and as always, the comedy which especially stands out in this one.
 They open with  “ A Little Less Conversation” and things just get funnier.

 There are  nuns, mounties , streakers and cast members  playing old people cracking jokes about their spouses.
 And every cast member gets to  show off their many talents.
 Scott Carpenter pretty much steals this show. Because while he is usually known for comedy, he shows off his exceptional singing voice on several  songs, both solo and as a group.

 They guys all show off their voices on a a capella version of Love Potion #9.

 They all dress in their ’60s best on the Mama and Papas ’ “California Dreaming,” with Carpenter dressed as Mama Cass.
 Rylan Kunkel shows off his saxophone on “Just A Gigolo,” featuring Carpenter doing his best crooner impression. Kunkel also tries his hand on the grand piano for an impressive version of Elton John’s  “Your Song,” though it was a shame is back was to the audience.  Kathy Zaborsky shows off her beautiful operatic voice and piano prowess on grand piano on Chiquita, a duet with co-musical director/ guitarist Scott Mezei.

 Drummer Keenan Pezderic steps out from behind the drums for a couple of comedy bits as well as shows off his baritone in Love potion #9— he usually sings in a falsetto when he plays with his funk/ R and B band Adequate, which also features Scott Mezei.

Jessica Ens  belts out  a couple numbers including “ Holding Out For a Hero,” which adds comedy by featuring superheroes Superman (Scott Carpenter, trying to get out of his Clark Kent clothes and into his Superman tights,” Batman (Grahame Renyk strutting around the stage) and harry Potter (Rylan Kunkel appearing out of a side door by the end of the song. Ens also belts out another Bonnie Tyler classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The country part of the show comes courtesy of Kathy Zaborsky and Rylan Kunkel singing a duet of “Act naturally.” Kunkel also plays the Strek, cracking up both cast members Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter during a hilarious version of the Ray Stevens classic.
 There are a lot of comedic highlights including Grahame Renyk and Kunkel as the Irish nuns and Scott Carpenter as  the Mountie.


New West's Legend of the Lost Tooth is a strange adventure

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New West Theatre takes kids of all ages on a their new pirate themed adventure “ The Legend of the Lost Tooth, ” running at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre until Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. each afternoon.Kelly Malcolm in Legend of the Lost Tooth. Photo by Richard Amery
 The talented cast of Kelly Malcolm, Erica Barr and Ryan Reese under the tutelage of writer/director   Nicola Elson, tell the story of a little girl who loses her tooth in a French  cafe, but with nary a word of dialogue.

 Instead  of dialogue there is a lot of physical actions, miming and puppets with  a few exhorted words in  French like “L’amour,” and “Incroyable, plus the odd utterances of  “tooth” “play” “clue” and “swim.”

The actors collaborated with director Nicole  Elson and composer Kathy Zaborsky to create this piece of devised theatre. Zaborsky’s soundtrack is  a beautiful combination of classical piano, accordion to create the French cafe atmosphere and a touch of jazz, plus a few bars of “La Vie de Rose” to reflect the love story between the Maitre De and the lady.

 Familiar face Kelly Malcolm steals the show as always. Several of the kids in the front row recognized her from previous New West’s Theatre for Young Audiences shows,” as just before the production, she recruited them to play fish later in the show.

 It is a weird show, but also entertaining. It reminded me of Mr. Bean if he was part of a pirate adventure.
 It is colourful, there is a lot of movement, and three fantastic masks, but it takes a while for the story to get started.


New West Theatre set to “Celebrate” 30 years

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New West Theatre celebrates 30 years in Lethbridge with their annual December music/ comedy revue “ Celebrate,” running Dec. 18- Jan. 4.
 To celebrate, directors and long time cast members Erica  Hunt and Scott Carpenter have brought together cast members representing each of the three decades of New West’s history.

Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter rehearse Celebrate. Photo by Richard Amery
“ It just sort of worked out that way,” said Grahame Renyk, who returned home from Toronto to be part of this show.
“ I was last on stage with New West seven years ago and directed the December show two years ago. I have to start work again the day after this show closes and I wouldn’t have done that for any other group,” he enthused.

“ We‘re laughing a lot. We‘re laughing as much back stage as we are on stage, he continued, adding there is a lot of great comedy, which  is his favourite part of the show and a cornucopia of songs ranging from ’50s doo wop, psychedelic ’60s, folk rock, 70s glam rock, ’80s pop and  novelty ’90s songs like the Bare Naked Ladies’ ‘Grade 9,’” Said Renyk, dressed in a Star Trek T-shirt he wears in the number.
“This is pretty close to what  I was like in Grade 9. Cast members Erica Hunt sports a skirt and Ramones T-shirt, Co musical director Kathy Zaborsky is dressed goth.  They represent the first decade of the show.

 Renyk and Jessica Ens, dressed as a cheerleader, represent the second decade and Rylan Kunkel, dressed as a nerd and Katie Fellger, also dressed as a Star Trek character represent the current decade.


Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society getting into the spirit with Shakespeare Meets Dickens

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is celebrating Christmas Victorian style.
 They present the fourth annual Shakespeare Meets Dickens night, Friday, Feb. 20 at  7 p.m. at Casa.

 There will be plenty of Yuletide cheer, Victorian  era snacks, mulled wine and   an eclectic cast of board members and Shakespeare in the park veterans and newcomers performingKeith Miller, Shelly David, John Poulsen and Megann Fennell are excited Shakepseare Meets Dickens, Dec. 20 at Casa. Photo by Richard Amery a reader’s Theatre Version of  Charles Dickens’ Christmas Classic “ A Christmas Carol.”

Plus there will be an array of talented singers getting you into the spirit, plus  Jeff Graham will be performing  the Porters Scene from this summer’s production of Macbeth.
“As usual we’ll be performing Charles Dickens‘ beloved Christmas classic reader’s theatre style.

 John Poulsen, who will also be directing our 2020  Shakespeare play “The Merry Wives of Windsor, opening July 2 in Galt Gardens,  will be performing with Shakespeare Meets Dickens,” said Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society Artistic director Kate Connolly.

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