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It’s a bug’s life as Cirque du Soleil brings OVO to Lethbridge this weekend

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The Enmax Centre is abuzz— it‘s a virtual hive activity as renown Quebec based circus Cirque Du Soleil gets ready to bring OVO to the Enmax Centre, May 27- 29.


 It is a real beehive at the Enmax Centre as the 100  cast  (52 performers and 48 crew) and support staff plus an additional 100  local people  hired to help get the Enmax Centre ready are bustling around like— well ants in an anthill to get ready for Friday”s premiere— the first date on their Cross-Canada tour and the first since Covid forced a two month break in  the tour.


Corentin LeMaitre-Auger takes a quick breather during rehearsals  for Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO. Photo by Richard Amery

Montreal aerial artists Maxime Charron and Corentin Lemaitre-Auger are rehearsing on the trapeze. The duo, who just graduated from circus school will be dressed up as colourful fleas for the show.


“Our circus school is right across from Cirque du Soleil, so we dreamed of one day joining them. And when we joined they offered us contracts for a year. We were the only graduates to get contracts,” said Charron, who met his partner Lemaitre-Auger at circus school and developed their act together.


 “He’s bigger than I am and I just like to fly,” Charron continued.


“ It’s super fun to be part of Cirque Du Soleil,” LeMaitre Auger said.


“ We had the act before we joined and had to adjust it a little with the artistic director for OVO,” he continued.


Janie Mallet shows off cricket costumes for Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO. Photo by Richard Amery

“ We like to push the boundaries of aerial performance,” he continued.


“Who else get paid to travel and perform and see the world,” Charron enthused.


 The duo joined Cirque Du Soleil on Feb. 11, for a month long residency in Los Angeles for a month before shutting down the hive because of Covid.


The cast and crew scurry all over the Enmax getting things ready for opening night. 


Everyone knows their role, everything is expertly organized, but backstage there is time for laughs, jokes, hugs and stories about how everybody’s break was and even stories about individual bouts with Covid.


 Everybody is excited for OVA take off again with the first shows landing in Lethbridge.


Hatrix revisits the Gazebo for first play since pandemic

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It’s good to be back on stage for Hatrix  theatre.

 In the local theatre troupes’ case, they are going way back to bring one of their first plays— Alec Coppel’s 1958 dark comedy “ The Gazebo back to the Moose Hall stage, May 25-28.


Kaitlin Goodliffe, Karl Airey and Clive Abbott rehearse for the Gazebo, running May 25-28 at the Moose Hall. Photo by Richard Amery

“It’s defin

itely an anniversary play,” said director Karolyn Harker.


 Hatrix first brought the play to the stage in October 2011.


She brought two of the original Gazebo cast members back into the fold, familiar faces from previous  Hatrix productions and Shakespeare in the park veterans as well as as well as talented newcomers.


Kaela Lee and  Karl Airey rehearse for the Gazebo, running May 25-28 at the Moose Hall. Photo by Richard Amery

 Producing a play during a pandemic has been a challenge, but  it is a community effort. The all volunteer cast and crew have to work around work, school and family schedules.


“It’s been about 10 or 11 years since Hatrix did the Gazebo. And we‘ve just come out of two years of social darkness, so we wanted to do something light that with make people laugh and have a good time,” Harker said.


The pandemic meant the play had to be cancelled a couple of times and they’ve undergone multiple cast changes, but she is pleased with how everything is turning out as opening night draws near.


“It’s about a playwright who’s wife is being blackmailed for a teenage indiscretion, so he decides the only way to protect her is to bump off  the blackmailer and he decides underneath his new gazebo as the perfect location to hide the body of  the blackmailer Joe the Black,” Harker summarized.


“But it’s more comedy than murder mystery,” she said.


“It’s really been exciting. I love this talented cast and crew. So don’t miss it,” she said.


 The cast is :  Elliot Nash,Karl Airey; Nell Nash,Kaela Lee; Harlow Edison,Brent Cutforth; Matilda,Cass Elise; Mrs. Chandler, Emily Frewin; Mr. Thorpe,Richard Amery; The Duchess,Kaitlin Goodliffe; Louie,Clive Abbott; Jenkins,Steven Barfus and  Drucker, Lisa Gearing .


One Act Play Festival returns to Sterndale Bennett Theatre this week

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After a two year break due to Covid, the Alberta Drama Festivall Association (ADFA) One Act Play festival returns to the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Saturday, May  14.


 Three plays have been submitted for the festival  plus there will be a reading of “the Cremation of Sam McGhee”  by Bryson  Brown and  “The Lion and Albert”  by Kate Connolly.


Jocelyn Steinborn is part of this year’s One Act Play Festival. Photo by Richard Amery

Playgoers of Lethbridge  artistic director Rita Peterson is just excited the festival is back.


“I'm just excited it’s back. I’m very excited,” Peterson said.


When Covid happened, we had just finished ‘Daisy.’ and were getting ready for the One Act Play Festival. But we had to cancel it because of Covid. It takes some time to build up momentum, which we haven’t been able to do over the past two years,” Peterson said.


 The main event is  Ed Bayly’s  Playgoers of Lethbridge favourite “ Priscilla Pringle‘s Predicament.”


U of L goes for the gore in A Night at the Grand Guignol:2022 for the last show of season

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The  University of Lethbridge props and  costume mavens  had a bloody good time designing costumes, props and special effects for “A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022”  the last University of Lethbridge main stage production of the year, which runs April 22 and 23 in University Theatre.


Quinn Larder plays the emcee for the U of L’s production of A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022, April 22 and 23. Photo by Richard Amery

 The show is a tribute to the renown Grand Guignol theatre in the Pigalle district of Paris, which featured horror plays from 1897-1962.

It features three shor blood tingling  horror thrillers featuring 15 actors, described as a “horallity (a mix of horror and hilarity) by Mia van Leeuan, one of the directors.

Despite the strike at the U of L, which caused a month’s delay in the production and meant minimal contact wth the actors and directors, MFA students Carla Simon and Jaime Johnson had a lot of fun creating elaborate costumes and props for the production.


Jaime Johnson shows masks she created for the U of L’s production of A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022, April 22 and 23. Photo by Richard Amery

It features The Lighthouse Keepers by Paul Autier and Paul Cloquemin, translated by Justin A Blum and directed by Jay Whitehead; The Masque of Red Death, an adaptive theatre piece based on Edgar Allen Poe’s story, created by Mia van Leeuwen and the cast; and a staged reading of Jean Aragny and Francis Neilson’s “ The Kiss of Blood.”


Prop and costume designer Carla Simon noted “ A Kiss of Blood,” is more than just a staged reading.


“It’s hot and cold. It’s a melodrama, but more over the top and extreme,” she said.


“It’s like the Evil Dead 2,” described Quinn Larder, who plays the emcee who guides the audience through all three short plays, dressed in an Alice Cooper inspired tux and and top hat costume designed by Jaime Johnson.


“ He’s as if Cryptkeeper and Alice Cooper and Willy Wonka had a kid. There’s a lot of gore and blood. He’ll ask for audience responses like “eews” and “gross,” Larder described.


“ It’s just really weird,” he said.


Johnson took a lot of  inspiration form Alice Cooper’s stage show, which has always been very theatrical. 

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