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Lethbridge Musical Theatre brings the Full Monty to the Yates Theatre

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Lethbridge  Musical Theatre are  giving audiences a full experience by doing something a lot different for their annual Fall musical, opening at the Yates Theatre, Oct. 26.

Anna McBryan and Dilon Crown are part of LMT’s production of the Full Monty. Photo by Richard Amery


 The musical, inspired by the 1997 British movie about six  unemployed steel mill workers who decide to strip to make ends meet, is something different for Lethbridge Musical Theatre, who usually put on more traditional mainstream musicals.

The plot of the musical closely follows the movie plot though it has been Americanized. It takes place in Buffalo , New York instead of Sheffield, England, and some of the more English references have been changed

“It’s been an interesting and rewarding experience,” said director Andrew Andreachuk who joined forces with music director Jillian Bracken and choreographer Jessica Ens who has performed with New West Theatre to bring the show to the stage.

 They recruited some of Lethbridge’s most familiar faces to perform and a hot live band.

“I got to talking about it with Jillian Bracken last year during  9 to 5 and we really wanted to do it. There is a lot of truth and intelligence in it,” Andreachuk said.

“It’s about real people in real life with real problems. They’re  relatable. People will care about the characters and enjoy the show. I’m confident people will enjoy them,” he said adding he hopes the Full Monty will help expand. LMT’s audience by doing something a little different.

 

“Our on stage talent and crew are exceptional,” he said.

“And the band adds such an amazing musical performance that brings everything together,” he said, adding keyboardist Bente Hansen is on stage.

“I haven’t worked with her for about 10 years, when we were in West Side Story. She was in the band then. She is on stage this time in a role that is just for her,” he said.

The multiple Tony award nominated musical has plenty of “Tonys” in the show, with a different Tony each night.

 

“There were some people we really wanted in the show but couldn’t get in the show , so  we have special guests every night. It’s a special event every night ,” he said, adding special guests include  Jeff Carlson, Kelly Rhea and the Owl Acoustic lounge co owner Steve Foord, who is also offering food and drink specials related to the show.

The show includes a cast of 20, a six member band and lots of back stage help.

 

“You’ll see some really familiar faces like Ashley Thomson, David Barrus, Mark Campbell and Anna McBryan,” he said. There are several actors from Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of “The Play That Goes Wrong,” including Ashley Thomson, Shelly David, Dan Pottage and Theatre Outré/ Playgoers of Lethbridge/ Impromptu veteran David Gabert.

 

“We have a wealth of experience. There are a lot of regular  LMT performers. and it’s only the third show our lead Dan Pottage has done. He was in  (Playgoers of Lethbridge) ‘ The Play That Goes Wrong,’ and  ‘9 to 5. ”

Dan Pottage is excited about his first lead role.

 

“Playing a lead role was always the goal. Jillian and I got talking during. 9 to 5 about it so when the opportunity arose,  I jumped at it,” said Pottage, who plays Jerry Lukowski, who get talking about performing their own Chippendales type show while accompanying their wives to a Chippendale’s show.

“The other steel mill workers have been laid off. So they decide to form a male strip show. Jerry needs to  make some money in order to get his kid back. He also has to deal with his ex-wife,” he said, thanking his own wife for being so patient with him during a consecutive series of long rehearsal periods for the three shows he has been in.

 

 In addition to remembering all of his lines, singing was a challenge.

“I’m traditionally a baritone and my part is a tenor, so it has been a challenge developing my vocal range. It’s a not a sad show, so singing it in falsetto would be a terrible choice. But we only had to transform one of the songs to a baritone,” he said, adding he wasn't familiar with the musical of  the Full Monty before getting involved, though he  was familiar with the movies.

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The Game’s Afoot with Playgoers of Lethbridge for Fall dinner theatre

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If you like Sherlock Holmes and if you like screwball comedy, then get a clue and a get your tickets then get ready to laugh  because The Games Afoot— again.

 Hatrix Theatre put on a production of the Ken Ludwig’s 2012 comedy in 2016.

 

 Playgoers of Lethbridge is  taking  it on Oct. 17-21 underneath the Keg for their annual Fall dinner theatre.

 

“ The Games Afoot, or Holmes for the holidays is based on a real character, William Gillette who wrote a play about Sherlock Holmes with Arthur Conan Doyle’s blessing.

After Gillette is shot  during a run of his long running play about Sherlock Holmes, he invites his friends in the cast to his mansion for Christmas Eve in 1936 to try and find out the identity of the killer. A storm is brewing literally and figuratively as,  poison pen theatre critic named Daria Chase pays them a visit, which leads to complications and hilarity as they hold a seance to find out who attempted to murder Gillette as well as the doorman at the theatre where they were performing in.

Jocelyn Steinborn,Cole Fetting, Lori Garner, John Poulsen and Jaclyn Elfring show off their costumes for the Game’s Afoot. Photo submitted

 

 Director Rita Peterson didn’t know Hatrix recently did the play. She didn’t know a lot about it before taking it on other than knowing it was penned by Ken Ludwig.

 

“I didn’t realize Hatrix had done it, but I read the play and it is so funny,” said  Peterson, who has been part of other Ken Ludwig plays and knows how funny they are.

“ I’ve directed  “Leading Ladies,” said Peterson who has always been a fan of the playwright, so she knew it was going to be funny.

“It’s really different than his other plays,” Peterson said, praising her cast.

 

“ There’s a lot of great characters in this play. We have a great cast and crew. They  work together so well and they really listen to direction and have great suggestions. And we have great costumes,” Peterson said.

 

The experienced cast includes a lot of familiar faces including University of Lethbridge professor  and  Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society veteran John Poulsen playing Gillette; Taber Players, Hatrix Theatre   and playgoers veteran Jocelyn Steinborn as  Martha Gillette, Lori Garner as Madge Geisel, Patrick Roach as her husband and Gilette’s best friend Felix, Playgoers of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society and University of Lethbridge graduate Cole Fetting, Chinook High School drama teacher and Hatrix Theatre veteran Maren Coates who was big sister Catherine in Hatrix Theatre’s Spring production of the Foreigner as Aggie, LMT and Playgoers of Lethbridge veteran Monica Baczuk as Inspector Goring and Taber Players veteran Jaclyn Elfring as poison pen gossip columnist Daria Chase.

 

 Retired University of Lethbridge professor Teresa Heyburn is handling costumes  for the show.

John Poulsen is excited to be play

John Poulsen and Patrick Roach rehearse the Game’s Afoot. Photo by Richard Amery

 Gillette  the show though he too wasn’t that familiar with the play.

 

“ Rita needed  someone to play Gillette and asked me. There‘s 565 lines I have to remember. I counted them. As soon as I read the script I said yes, ” Poulsen laughed.

 

“ It moves so fast. In a comedy it needs to move fast,” he said praising his cast-mates.

 

“It’s such a solid group. It feels so natural to work with them. It’s tightly written play. Gillette is such a funny comedic role that is lots of fun to play,” Poulsen continued.

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Hatrix Theatre to bring twisted humour in Toxic Avenger the Musical

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Hatrix theatre is getting ready for a bloody good time for Halloween as they bring  The Toxic Avenger: The Musical to the  McNally Community Centre

Tanner Hansen, Alli Price and Corbyn Wehlage Rehearse a scene from Toxic Avenger the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

just in time  for Halloween.

 

“The Toxic Avenger is getting a lot more attention now,” said director Brian Quinn, noting the latest instalment of Toxic Avenger  superhero comedy movie inspired by the 1984 cult film classic starring Peter Dinklage was just released in September.

 

Quinn started planning the production during  Hatrix Theatre’s run of the Evil Dead last Fall.

 He observed the Toxic Avenger is  in the same vein as Evil Dead: The Musical in that it is a dark, musical comedy, heavily influenced by campy B horror movies like  The Evil Dead and The Toxic Avenger.

 

“There’s body parts being torn off. We don’t throw blood on the audience, but we do throw bleach.”

David Bryan, keyboardist of well known ’80s hair metal band Bon Jovi composed the soundtrack for this musical.

“Though that isn’t part of the marketing,” Quinn continued.

 

 While it is a comedy meant for an audience over 18,  the show also has a strong environmental theme.

 

“It’s about Melvin Ferd the Third who is an environmentalist who discovers toxic waste is being poured into the Hudson River. While researching it he falls in love with blind librarian Sara. He discovers the mayor of Tromaville is involved and she has her goons throw him into a vat of toxic waste. He comes out  of the vat mutated with superpowers and covered in green ooze with eyeballs hanging out ,” Quinn summarized.

 

Dayton Pagliericci and Alli Price rehearse Hatrix theatre’s production of The Toxic Avenger the musical. Photo by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

“He falls in love with Sarah but can’t touch her. He vows revenge on the mayor. It’s about good vs evil,” he said.

 

The show stars Dayton Pagliericci ( Toxie/ Melvin), Corbyn Wehlage (Bozo/Sal/Doctor/ Diane etc.),  Tanner Hansen (Sluggo, Fred, Prof Ken, Shanequa etc), Julie  Vanessa Maruno (Mayor, Ma, nurse) and Alli Price who plays Sara. Maruno and Price were part of the Evil Dead the Musical last fall.

 

 Price played Alice in the Evil Dead while Maruno was one of the monsters and backstage crew.

“We have five actors playing like 15 different roles. We have a really great cast,” Quinn said, noting they have been rehearsing for the production since the end of July.

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New West Theatre’s Honour Beat explores family, after life and cultural identity

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New West Theatre  explores family dynamics, assisted death and First Nations issues in their presentation of Tara Beagan’s dark comedy “Honour Beat,” which runs in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Oct. 5-14.

 

Director Valarie Planche is no stranger to Tara  Beagan’s 2019 play about two very different and estranged sisters who try to mend their fences over their mother’s deathbed in Vancouver.

“ I directed it in 2019  in London, Ontario just before the pandemic. This is a completely new cast, and a completely new set design,” she said.

 

Michaela Washburn, Sandra Lamouche and  Brianne Tucker  perform in Honour Beat. Photo By Richard Amery

 When you enter the Sterndale Bennett theatre you enter the middle of a forest set designed by Julia Wasilewski

Planche noted  the mother is in a coma so the play takes place in her head.

 

“ Mom is in a coma, so a lot of it takes place in the magical realm. It’s been very fun because I got to go back to it,” enthused Planche, who is a Metis and did a lot of research the first time she did the play, which she  expanded in for this production.

 

“It takes the audience to that place. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the afterlife,” she said, adding “Honour Beat ”allows her too imagine what that’s like.

 The play explores issues of cultural identity and after life care.

 

“It‘s very funny. It’s relatable. There’s a lot of cry laughter because it’s got that hospital humour,” she said.

“ These  two daughters couldn’t be more different and the mom wants them to reconcile as her deathbed wish,” she summarized.

 There are a few nods to Blackfoot culture though the play takes place in B.C.

“Blackfoot culture is very different,” said Planche.

The play stars Brianne Tucker, Jeremy Proulx, Michaela Washburn and Sandra Lamouche.

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