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New West Theatre at home in the Yates Theatre exploring “Decades”

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It’s good to be home after what seems like “Decades” thanks to Covid. So New West Theatre is celebrating being back at home in the Yates Theatre with a new variety show exploring the  the past eight  “Decades” of music and fashion from the 

New West Theatre’s Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter and Madisan Cowan  rehearse It’s Got to be Rock and Roll if you want to Dance With me” for Decades. Photo By Richard Amery

1950s to today featuring lots of comedy, impersonations and music from Smokey to Sia from the 1950s to  the 2000s

 

 Due to Covid, New West has had to improvise to put on their big summer variety shows. They did a drive In show two years ago at Exhibition Park and were part of one of the outdoor festivals last summer.

 

 This time they are back in the Yates Theatre for “Decades,” which runs Aug. 10-27.

 

“It’ll be a big old party,” summarized director and musical director Kathy Zaborsky, who had a lot of fun choosing the music for the show.

 As usual, they had a three week turnaround to develop , rehearse and prepare the show  

 

“It’s a celebration of all of the events, music and costumes from the decades 1950 to the 2020s,” Zaborsky continued, adding she is excited to direct her first big New West Theatre show, though she has directed performances for local groups like Theatré Outré.

 

“ I looked at lists on the Internet of the best songs from each decade and made a list of 500 and whittled it down to the songs I thought would best suit each performer,” she said, noting most of the show is all new material. 

 

“Most of the show is all new. We’ve probably done the Bee Gees before, but it’s definitely reimagined,” said Erica Hunt, long time New West member.

 

“ The show is all ages. It is family friendly, for people aged 0 to 110,” said Zaborsky.

 

There will be a lot of comedy and a lot of impressions performed by New West veterans Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter and Kyle Gruninger as well as some familiar faces from a few shows back including Alinafe Lupiway and Ashley Thomson, relative new regulars like Katie Fellger and brand new talent Madisan Cowan.

 

They are backed by a crack band including two thirds of local funk band Adequate– Scott Mezei playing guitar and drummer Keenan Pezderic plus bassist Greg Paskuski and Kathy Zaborsky playing keyboards.

 

“ Madisan grew up in New West Theatre because her mother Vanessa did choreography for us for some of our early shows. So I remember her dancing along in the wings. She’s a huge talent,” reminisced Erica Hunt, who is excited to be back on the Yates Theatre stage.

 

“ I’m really excited about it,” she said, adding she is just as excited about the music and comedy as she is about the costumes.

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Don’t sleep on this Summer’s production of Hamlet from the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society

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Hamlet. While I missed their Legacy Park Performance on Friday July 8, I caught opening night at Casa, Thursday, July 7 at Casa Plaza.

Hamlet continues this week at several locations in Southern Alberta. Photo by Richard Amery

 Having it at Casa following the Upside Downtown  concert series was a brilliant move as they already had a good sized crowd out for John Wort Hannam’s opening night performance for Upside Downtown.

 Most of them stayed around for Hamlet.

 

Director Shelley Scott ’s presentation of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy has been trimmed to a enrapturing, not to mention svelte hour and a half hour performance.

 

 But you get all of the hits— The best known speeches from Hamlet including the “get thee to a nunnery,”  “ To Be or Not to Be,” and “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” speeches and a lot more.

 

 There’s a lot of action, treachery, mystery afoot and much more.

 

 The talented cast draw a lot of humour from a play where pretty much everybody dies at the end.  There is also a lot of humour drawn from the play within the play.

 

 Rosencrantz ( Ginny Bergsma) and Guildenstern (Stephanie Watson) provide physical comedy and ukulele.

 

 David Burton’s Polonious is especially humorous, if not a little over the top.

 

Hamlet continues this week at several locations in Southern Alberta. Photo by Richard Amery


 

As expected the play has a lot of drama. John Poulsen is aptly sinister as conniving King Claudius.

 

 Jesse Thibert  is a wonderful  Hamlet, conveying a variety of emotions from introspective to anger and a touch of insanity.

 

 Cole Fetting shines as usual as Laertes. He and Thibert have a thrilling duel  at the climax of the play.

 

There are several presentations of Hamlet this week including  July 14 at Casa at 7:30 p.m; a ticketed event at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden on Friday, July 15 and in Coutts for the Coutts Arts Festival outside of Nanton, Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m..

— By Richard Amery L.A.Beat editor

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Hootenanny ready to have a hoot in July with The Junk Story

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This year‘s Hootenanny is making art out of junk for July.

 

The popular local devised theatre family production of Hootenanny returns to Galt Gardens all July beginning on Canada Day, then Saturday morning.

 

Ahona Sanyal and Quinn Larder star in Hootenanny’s The Junk Show in July. Photo by Richard Amery

 “The Junk Show” features Ahona Sanyal and Quinn Larder play Rusty and Dusty, two junk collectors who have some fun with rubbish, sorting junk into piles labelled “No Good” and “So Good,” but get lost in their imaginations playing with their finds.

“Rusty and Dusty are two junk collectors who make friends and learn that everyone and everything has value,” Sanyal summarized.

 

“We make puppets out of the junk, we go into medieval times, underwater and into space,” continued Sanyal, who is excited to be part of Hootenanny again. She was part of last year’s Hootenanny— “The Risky, Yet Rewarding Adventure of Pearl and Dot.” They had to take the year before that off because of Covid.

 

Director Nicola Elson, who also works at the University of Lethbridge, didn’t have as much time to dedicate to it due to the strike and Covid affecting operations at the university.

 

“Usually I like to devise a skeleton of a script and work off that, but I wasn’t able to do that this year, so this is truly devised theatre,” Elson said, adding they let the junk inspire the story.

 

“ They dialogue doesn’t really matter as much for theatre for young audiences. It’s more about physical acting and colour,” she said,  noting she visited an art junkyard called Bin Diver near Irricana , outside of Calgary and collected an array of items like bicycle wheels, old mops, motorcycle helmets, watering cans, clocks, fans and lamp shades to use.

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Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society bringing Hamlet to Lethbridge venues

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society gave a preview of this summer’s production of Hamlet  at the Grand opening of  Festival Square, next to Telegraph and across from the SAAG.

 

Jesse Thibert (Hamlet) and Ben McLuskey (Horatio) perform a scene from this summer’s production of hamlet  at Festival Square, June 22. Photo by Richard Amery

 Producer Kate Connolly is excited to bring Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy to stages all over the city this summer.

 

Darryl Croft (Ghost)  performs a scene from this summer’s production of hamlet  at Festival Square, June 22. Photo by Richard Amery

“This is our eleventh year and we were able to do this throughout Covid,” Connolly said before the show.

 

 While  the local thespians usually concentrate on the comedies, they have explored some of Shakespeare’s tragedies including Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth and the Tempest .

 Connolly is excited to have a full slate of shows and new venues for this year.

 

“We have 17 shows this summer, which is the most we’ve ever done,” Connolly said, noting most of the July shows will be outside Casa on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m..as part of Upside Downtown. 

 

They also have three shows at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, Galt Gardens, Legacy Park and road trips to the Historic Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod,  Coutts Centre outside Nanton and the Venue in High River.

 

“We’re very excited to be part of the very popular Upside Downtown concert  series ,” Connolly said.

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