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L.A. Beat

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.“

 The rest of the cast, including the always amazing Erica Hunt, plus Rylan Kunkel,  AJ Baragar and Kyle Gruninger, though talented veterans by now, also provide pleasant surprises.
 AJ Baragar shows he can do a mean Garth Brooks during a Garth Brooks medley performed by the guys.

New West Theatre]s Barn Dance ends this weekend. Photo by Richard Amery
 Baragar also plays a great version of Bo Burnham’s bro country parody “Pandering,” one of several songs featuring him playing acoustic guitar as well. Andrea Bailey plays a great straight woman during that bit, which only enhances the humour.

New West’s Barn Dance is a natural fit for Kunkel who comes form a long family tradition of the Great Canadian Barn Dance. He shines on an impassioned version of Kenny Rogers‘ “ The Gambler,” Willie Nelson’s “City of New Orleans” as well as  a beautiful duet with Andrea Bailey of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s “Remind Me.”

And you can’t have a New West production directed by Jay Whitehead without a bit featuring  guys dressed as girls.

Erica Hunt and Andrea Bailey in New West Theatre’s Barn Dance. Photo by Richard Amery
 Even AJ Baragar, playing the straight man, was having trouble keeping a straight face, while Kyle Gruninger and Rylan Kunkel, dressed in denim skirts, bras and blonde wigs, hung off his shoulders in a comedy bit which followed  a version of Luke Bryan’s  “Country Girl (Shake it for me).”
 Kyle Gruninger was also hilarious as usual and also was a pleasant surprise singing country music, as I usually know him for being an amazing rock and metal singer.
Shelby Wilson is always a pleasure to watch in comedy bits, but especially belting out huge versions of songs from Dolly Parton as well as as part of an excellent Shania Twain medley performed by the ladies.

Erica Hunt is always a multi-talented  treat to watch on stage in both comedy bits and as a powerhouse vocalist standing out on a great version of Bobby Gentry/ Reba McEntire’s “Fancy.”
 My favourite Erica Hunt bits were her twisted square dance call ad role as bartender miss Kitty handling a cadre of unruly customers including a deadbeat customer played by Rylan Kunkel.

If you want to have some light hearted countrified, summer fun,  not to mention catch the last show in the Yates Theatre before the renovations, then catch the last three shows of New West Theatre’s “Barn Dance at 7:30 Friday and  Saturday plus 1 p.m., Saturday.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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