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Ron James back where he belongs — on stage

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The always ebullient and erudite  Cape Breton born, Toronto based comedian Ron James is excited to return to Lethbridge for two shows at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 and 23.

“ I’m doing Jim Dandy, I spent October in Nova Scotia ,”  enthused James from Toronto, where the first snow of winter is falling.

He is excited to be “Back Where I Belong”— on the road making people laugh all across Canada “from Cornerbrook to Courtney -Comox.”

 He always enjoys performing in Lethbridge.


“ I love Southern Alberta. I’ve been to Waterton and  the hoodoos, Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Audiences always come to laugh,” he said.


“ The last time I was here was 2018, I think and I heard the Yates theatre had just been renovated. And a lot has happened since then,” James observed.


He kept  busy during the pandemic doing a few online shows, working on a couple of television shows and completing his book.“All Over the Map.”


“I had to keep the muscle I’ve spent the last 25 years building  and strengthening from travelling from Cornerbrook to Courtney-Comox, from atrophying,” he said.


The  paperback edition of Ron James’ best selling new book  “All Over the Map” was just released  on Nov. 1. The hardcover version was released last October and has done well.

“It was in the Top 50 between Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld,” he said.

“ It’s a love letter to all the people I’ve met and places I’ve seen. It’s not all satire, though there is some of that. My publisher (Doubleday and Penguin, Random House Canada) said not to make it funny on every page, but I think it’s funny on every page,” James said, adding he also recorded an audio book version of it.


Hatrix Theatre sells out tenth anniversary run of the Evil Dead the Musical

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Hatrix Theatre’s tenth anniversary production of  The Evil Dead, which opened Oct. 20 at the McNally Arts Centre just outside  of Lethbridge, is sold out.

John Pogorzelski, Aaron Broszat Alli Price in Hatrix Theatre’s sold out Evil Dead the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery


 The exceptional production, directed by Brian Quinn features some familiar faces playing different roles when Hatrix first  staged the horror/comedy musical 10 years ago.

“We‘ve sold out all eight shows. It’s fantastic. We’re very happy about that,” said Carrie-Ann Worden, who plays little sister Cheryl in this production. She played Annie in the original.


“ This was the right play to do after the pandemic. People really missed this,” she continued.


Students going to the cabin in Hatrix Theatre’s sold out Evil Dead the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

“There’s hilarity, campy, cheesy gore,” she described.


“There are so many fans of Evil Dead. 10 years ago, we had people coming all the way f

rom Portland for the show,” she said, adding the musical mirrors Bruce Campbell’s cult classic Evil Dead movie.


There are upbeat, hilarious songs, scattered profanity, dancing demons and the set moves as the necronomicon takes hold. And the first three rows get bloody in the splash zone.


Worden is excited to play Cheryl, the first victim of the candarian demons the necronomicon unleashes in this production.


“ I love Cheryl. I really identify with her. And she’s a lot of fun to play,” Worden said.


 The  production had a few problems getting off the ground, with cast members quitting due to health complications.


Auditions for Playgoer’s production of The Play that Goes Wrong coming up

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Long standing  local theatre group Playgoers of Lethbridge has an exciting centennial season planned.


 They are holding auditions for their production of  Jonathan Sayer, Henry Lewis and  Henry Shields’s farce “ The Play That Goes Wrong.” 


“This Olivier Award-winning comedy is a hilarious hybrid of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes. Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines),” according to the play’s website.


 Auditions are Oct. 18 and 19  in the Casa Community room, for the play which will be happening in Feb. 7-11 on the Yates Theatre stage.


“It’s about a theatre troupe putting on a 1920s murder mystery. But there are a lot of problems with  the cast, props and stage manager. There are a lot of mistakes. And there is a murder. So there is a dead body on stage,” said  director Elaine Jagielski.


Barvinok shows off Ukrainian resilience and culture in new play presented by New West Theatre

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Edmonton based playwright and actor Lianna Makuch’s new travelling production of “Barvinok” has taken a circuitous and serendipitous journey back to Lethbridge.


“It’s a celebration of Ukrainian resilience and strength,” Makuch said.


Lianna Makuch is excited to bring her play Barvinok to Lethbridge, Oct. 12-22. Photo by Richard Amery

“Barvinok,” which means “periwinkle” (a flower known for it’s resilience and strength, which Makuch considered an apt metaphor for the Ukrainian people) in Ukrainian, was inspired by Makuch’s discovery of her Baba’s diary of emigrating to Canada during the Second World War, a journey which ended up in Lethbridge.


“It’s a story of resilience, but most importantly it’a a story of hope,” said Makuch, who plays Hania, the main character.


The semi-autobiographical story mirrors her own journey to the Ukraine to rediscover her homeland and Ukrainian cultural roots in 2017 and several others, during which she interviewed a lot of people including veterans and now veterans of Russia’s current war on Ukraine.


“There have been several iterations of the play,” she said, noting the play takes place in 2017, so current events haven’t  changed the text.


“But they have helped the performers better understand the stories of the Ukrainian people. And that has impacted our performances,” she said.


The cast of Lianna Makuch’s play Barvinok at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Oct. 12-22. Photo by Richard Amery

She returned in 2018 to work with Ukrainian theatre troupe Punctuate! Theatre, Pyretic Productions and Alberta Council  for Ukrainian Arts to conduct interviews with of Ukrainian actors, activists, veterans and diplomats, and used some of their quotes in the play.


 The play is all the more poignant as several of the people she interviewed  have since died in the war.


“ I made a lot of close personal friendships who became like a second family to me when I was in Ukraine, some of who are now living in bomb shelters and some who have died,” she said.


“I hope this play will help people to be able to better understand the Ukrainian people. It is a story of hope,” she emphasized, adding it is also has a lot of humour despite the serious subject matter.


“ That was what I found especially talking to the veterans, is their sense of humour. These are ordinary people who signed up to fight,” she said.


“ It shows the Ukrainian spirit and is more meaningful now,” she said.

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