You are here: Home Drama Beat Latest Drama News New West Theatre pumped to perform ‘Ode To Joy’ in front of live audience again
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

L.A. Beat

New West Theatre pumped to perform ‘Ode To Joy’ in front of live audience again

E-mail Print

New West Theatre has always had a positively uplifting Up With People vibe, but they are pumping up the positivity for their new show Ode to Joy, running at the Yates Theatre, Dec.15- Dec. 31.


“Everyone needs some joy. It really is an ode to joy, an ode to music, an ode to laughter and an ode to being back on stage again after 18 months,” enthused Erica Hunt, who is co-directing  the show with Scott Carpenter.

 They are joined by familiar faces Katie Fellger and Kyle Gruninger and welcome back old friends Ashley Thomson and Alinafe Lupiway.


Erica Hunt, Ashley Thomson, Scott Carpenter and Alinafe Lupiway rehearse for Ode To Joy. Photo by Richard Amery

 Kathy Zaborsky, Greg Paskuski, Keenan Pezderic and Scott Mezei are the crack band, who also add a few extra voices. Pezderic gets to sing lead on a song too.

 While New West Theatre’s holiday season shows usually are a greatest hits show, “Ode To Joy” is mostly new songs and comedy.

“We’re still putting it together. We have a lot of material. There’s still a few holes to be filled,” Hunt said.


“Scott and I chose songs with a positive and uplifting feel. It’s mostly new material, but we’re also bringing back some crowd pleasers,” Hunt said.


“It’s just so exciting to be back performing in the theatre in front of an audience, so we wanted to make sure this show looked fresh,” she continued.


 Ashley Thomson is pleased to be performing with New West Theatre again. She was last in New West Theatre’s 2018  production of Hit Parade.


“It’s fabulous to be invited back. It is such a gift to be with a group of people who are so kind, compassionate and talented. They set such a high bar for professionalism,” Thomson enthused, adding she is excited to be performing in front of a live audience again.


“It’s just such a wonderful gift to be performing in front of an audience again,” she continued, adding it has been a long 18 months without live performances.

Erica Hunt also can’t wait to be in front of an audience again.

“We did what we could during the pandemic with  Zoom performances, the radio plays and those wonderful play readings and the Christmas light show on the radio last year. But it isn’t the same as hearing the audience laugh back at you,” Hunt said.

“This show is so much fun,” Hunt said.

“We‘re bringing back a lot of old characters in brand new situations,” Thomson noted.

They are looking forward to the group numbers.

 Kyle Gruninger and Ashley Thomson rehearse for Ode To Joy. Photo by Richard Amery

“We’re doing an a cappella version of ‘The Longest Time’ by Billy Joel. But there is some bass in it. Everyone is so talented,” Hunt said.


“We’re performing ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ with the whole cast and it is beautiful. It’s being lead by the very talented Alinafe Lupiway,” Hunt said.


“I’m looking forward to being on stage with everyone and hearing our voices blend together. So I’m definitely looking forward to the group numbers the most,” Thomson said.


 Everybody gets their solo spots as well.

“I get to rock some Blondie,” Thomson enthused, adding she will get to sing ‘Call Me.’


 The cast are proficient instrumentalists, but they will only be adding extra percussion to this show.


“Kathy Zaborsky is mostly playing with the band for this show,” Hunt said.

“I just can’t wait to be in front of an audience again. We’re all so excited about it,” Thomson said.


“Ode To Joy” runs at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15-19; Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 26- Dec. 31. There are 1 p.m. matinees on Dec. 18,19,26 and 31.

Tickets are available at the Enmax and Yates Theatre Box offices, by calling 403-329-7328 (SEAT) or online

— 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