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Taming of the Shrew opens in Galt Gardens

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society premiered their summer production of Shakespeare’s comedy Taming of the Shrew, Thursday, July 6.


Emily Laidlaw and Lucas Kramps perform in Taming of the Shrew, which opened this week. Photo by Richard Amery

Their production of Taming of the Shrew, directed by Jesse Thibert, whom played Hamlet last summer, puts a slightly modern twist on the theme of gaslighting to control one’s wife.

They set it amid the countercultural turmoil of the free love ’60s.


Ben McCluskey and Maddie McKee perform in Taming of the Shrew, which opened this week. Photo by Richard Amery

It is supposed to be a contrast between the counter-culture  of youth and the more conservative adults but even Father  Baptista, played by Ginny  Little-Bergsma, is dressed like Sonny Bono in this show.


The story is about Father Baptista, who refuses to let his popular youngest daughter Bianca (Mataya Britton) be wooed until his eldest  daughter, the shrewish, headstrong, violent and angry Kate (Maddie McKee) be wed.


So the youth of Nanaimo (rather than Padua) convince Petruccio ( played by Shakespeare Performance Society veteran Ben McCluskey) to take Kate off their hands, so they are free to woo Bianca, posing as tutors.


 There is a lot of colour, some fun physical comedy and some intriguing choices made. Petruccio’s horse is a rail scooter and they have some fun switching out Italian cities with Canadian cities. It is hilarious that Winnipeg is at odds with  Nanaimo in this show, though it is only mentioned in passing.


Ben McCluskey and Maddie McKee have excellent chemistry together especially during the wooing scene. Maddie McKee projects well, shouting most of her lines and playing an excellent shrewish Kate.


Like in previous productions, the minor characters steal the show.

 It is always a joy to see Trevor Loman show his comedic side as he does as Hortensio.

 Emily Laidlaw, who played a more serious role of Hamlet’s mother in last year’s  production of Hamlet shows her comedic side as  Biondello in Taming of 

Trevor Loman and Mataya Britton perform in Taming of the Shrew, which opened this week. Photo by Richard Amery

the Shrew.


 Jess Nguyen has a fun smaller role as Petruccio’s tailor, and Jeff Graham is entertaining in everything he does, this time as one of Bianca’s suitor Gremio.


 Lucas  Kramps  excels as comic relief as Tranio, one of Biancas other suitors.


Taming of the Shrew is at the Empress theatre is at Legacy park , July 13 at 7 p.m. and in Fort Macleod on July 14  so they aren’t competing with Street Machine weekend, but they will be back in Galt Gardens, July 20 and July 27 and  Aug. 3,10, 17 and 18.


Ginny Little-Bergsma and Ben McCluskey in Taming of the Shrew. Photo by Richard Amery

They will also be performing at Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, July 21, Aug 4 and 11 and at the Coutts arts Centre outsside of Nanton, July 16 at 2 p.m.

—  By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor


Hootenanny explores friendship and acceptance in There’s a Turtle in my Tub

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Get ready to have a hoot in Galt Gardens with New West Theatre’s summer production of Hootenanny — There’s A Turtle in my Tub, running at 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday through Saturday , in the shade across the street from Park Place Mall until the end of July.

Hootenanny’s July production There’s a Turtle in My Tub opened this week. Photo by Richard Amery


Instead of creating a devised theatre production from scratch like usual, the cast, crew and directors expanded on Nicola Elson’s script “There’s a Turtle In my Tub.” She produced it for a theatre company in Calgary.


“ It’s the skeleton. I had this script and it has never been done here,” said Elson.


Assistant director Ahona Saynal, who has been involved with the past four of  the five productions of Hootenanny, mostly on stage, is helping direct.


 The half hour show is about Mabel, a non binary kid with a vivid imagination, who is always panicking after hearing noises in their room, until one day they discover a turtle named Seymour in their bathtub and decides to help him return home.


“There is a mailman, submarine captain and a hot air balloon pilot, but really the turtle is just looking for a friend. It is a play about worry, imagination, acceptance and friendship,” Elson summarized adding the show includes lots of puppets, colour and action.


Because Hootenanny is under the New West Theatre Banner, which allows them access to  more grants to hire university students for the summer, this show features live music for the first time from Nis Sherman who provides a live soundtrack to the antics and puppetry of Achilles Friessen, Parker Hickerty and Mirielle Nieuwenhuis.


“Usually  it’s canned music. Nis will also be part of New West Theatre’s summer show,” Elson said.


Elson observed Hootenanny’s focus is on theatre for young people, but it also gives up and coming actors and directors from the university to get their foot in the proverbial stage door.


Playgoers of Lethbridge preparing for Fall pantomime with open auditions

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Playgoers of Lethbridge is winding up  their 100th anniversary year by putting on a pantomime — something they haven’t done in a very long time.

 They are  putting on  The Snow Queen, a Hans Christian Andersen tale adapted by Alan Frayn.

“It‘s a play that uses stereotypical characters. There’s the dame, the villain, the principal boy, the principal girl, the simple Simon and the wise man,” said director Elaine Jagielski who has always wanted to produce a pantomime.

 She enjoyed the story of the Snow Queen.

“ I read the script and thought it was really funny,” she said

 She is holding auditions for the show  in the casa community room, Tuesday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m..

 She is looking for approximately 20 actors  (nine main roles) and possibly as many as 30 with a variety of skills including drama, dance and singing. Though not all characters dance and sing.


Lethbridge Musical Theatre needs a few good men for the Full Monty musical

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Lethbridge Musical Theatre is looking for a few good men, aged 20-50 with a song in their hearts and who are comfortable with their bodies and who are willing to “risk it all ”for their  Fall, winter production of  The Full Monty.


 Auditions are Sunday, June 25 from 1-5 p.m. and Monday June 26, 5-9 p.m. for the production, which will run Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 1-4 in the Yates Theatre.

Jillian Bracken is musical director for LMT's production of the Full Monty. Photo by Richard Amery


 The musical, based on the hit 1997 British movie was Americanized and debuted on Broadway in 2000.


 Director Andrew Andreachuk is excited to work with musical director Jillian Bracken and choreographer, New West Theatre veteran Jessica Ens on a show Lethbridge has never seen before.


“I worked with Jillian in 9 to 5 and have been in several Lethbridge Musical Theatre musicals. Jillian was passionate about the show so we brought it to the board who were excited to work with us,” Andreachuk said.


“It’s a very smart show that explores body image issues.  Which is even more important today. The music is great and it subverts traditional roles as it’s the men who have to bare all to make it work. LMT hasn’t done anything like it,” he said.

The show takes place in Buffalo, where a group of laid off steel mill workers  decide to present a strip act after seeing their wives get  excited over a touring Chippendales act.


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