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Shakespeare in the Park expects double the fun with twin fueled Comedy of Errors

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Shakespeare in the Park are having fun playing with the comedy “A Comedy of Errors,” which opens at Galt Gardens, at 7 p.m., June 29 and runs most Thursdays and Friday nights until Aug. 11.Antipholus of Syracuse (Austin Halarewich) and Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) strike a gunfighter pose for A Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Amery

Director Ron Chambers is excited to trot on stage a western version of Shakespeare’s comedy, with plenty of slapstick  comedy, misunderstandings and hopefully few errors.

“ I think it‘s going pretty well. It’s two weeks before we open. It looks pretty solid. We‘re ironing out  some details and the guys are busy youtubing Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges,” said Chambers, who is excited to not only work with a diverse cast including university students, recent graduates, community members and a handful of high school students, but is excited to work outside in Galt Gardens.

“I did a play outside several years ago, so getting to work outside again was one of the reasons I wanted to do this play,” he said.

 Chambers and Shakespeare in the Park producer Kate Connolly not only shortened to play to a tight  production just over an hour long, but turned it into a western and tweaked some of the characters turning the Abbess into “Crazy Kate,”the Courtesan into Miss Kitty,  the Duke into the Sheriff and Dr. Pinch, the doctor, into a firebrand preacher. They also turned Ephesus into Heifersus— a rural river cowboy town.

“I did a lot of research into the nineteenth century and incorporated a few phrases. Kate shortened the play and took out a lot of the thees and thous to make it more accessible. It‘s a lot of fun,” Chambers said.

“If you are a Shakespeare scholar or researcher you will probably come away from it disappointed. But if you come to it wanting to have fun, you will have a blast,” he said.

“ I always feel a little guilty about changing Shakespeare, but I don’t think he would have minded. He loved language. he wrote plays to please audiences and to make money, which is what we’re trying to do,” he said, noting Shakespeare was inspired to write A Comedy of Errors by  The Menaechmi written by ancient Roman dramatist Plautus.

“He (Shakespeare)  added an extra pair of twins,” he continued.

“ The play is about two sets of twins who get separated at birth in a shipwreck. (Each twin has a servant twin). One set  of twins come to a strange town and nobody knows who they are so they are mistaken for each other, which creates a lot of  comedy and a lot of errors,” Chambers said.

“It is an hour and 10 minutes. So it is short and sweet and funny. You’ll even have time to go shopping afterwards,” Chambers chuckled.

Cole Fetting has been in quite a few plays over the past year including a  couple in the One Act Play Festival, the LMT fundraiser Jesus Christ Superstar, Undertow Theatre’s “Proud” and last years Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet.



Way Down Wanderers wandering up to Canada for first time

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Peoria, Illinois based roots/ bluegrass band the Way Down Wanderers are wandering up to Canada for the first time  next week for a quick tour including a stop at the Slice on Wednesday, June 28.The Way Down Wanderers play Lethbridge on Wednesday. Photo submitted

The Americana/roots quintet’s self titled debut CD has won them several awards after being released in February 2016. The Way Down Wanderers are  vocalist/ guitarist Austin Thompson;
Collin Krause- Vocals, Mandolin, Violin, Electric Guitar ;  John Williams- Vocals, Upright Bass; John Merikoski - Drums, Percussion and banjo/fiddle player Travis Kowalsky.
They are excited about the Canadian tour.

“This will be the first time we’ve ever played outside of the United States, so we’re just excited to see the land,” said vocalist/guitarist Austin Thompson.

The roots of the band began in Peoria where Austin Thompson and Collin Krause were part of a band for a different singer.

“When that fell apart, Collin and I decided to form a band where we had a little bit more control over what we were doing. And when that fell apart, I decided to try writing songs myself. John Williams was studying jazz and he joined us,” said Thompson travelling from Peoria to Chicago where most of the band are based. Newest member,  banjo player Travis Kowalsky, lives in the northern Michigan city of Alpena.
“He’s a great fiddle player, so we asked him to play with us,” he said.


Rotary Dragon Boats all about camaraderie

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Dragons invade Henderson Lake, June 23-25 as the ATB Rotary Dragon Boat Festival gets ready to launch another fun filled weekend of live music, merchants, and dragon boat races.
 The annual event is an opportunity to enjoy some sunshine, music and camaraderie.
“It‘s Ashley McKenzie gets ready for Dragon boating. Photo by Richard Amerythe longest two and a half minutes of your life,” said Marcie Stork, who has been a member of the LFS  Brave Hearts team since 2008.

Rotary Dragon Boat festival Race chair Karen Johnson observed the festival has exploded in popularity since she first got involved with the first Rotary Dragon 16 years ago in 2002 paddling with the City Of Lethbridge Dragn’ R Butz crew.
“We had 17 teams the first year. This year we have 66,” Johnson said, noting the festival was inspired by long time Rotary member John Rayner.

“He always walked around Henderson saw the “Abreast of Bridge” breast cancer team paddling in an old Voyageur canoe that was full of holes and decided to raise money to buy them a boat,” Johnson said, adding the success of the first fundraiser in 2000 inspired the three Lethbridge Rotary Clubs to start the official festival in 2001.

 This year there are 66 teams, 33 from out of town  including Calgary, Edmonton, Okotoks, Nelson, B.C, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon, Regina and even as far away as Bozeman, Montana, coming to race. She agreed Dragon boat racing gets in the participants’ blood.The ATB Rotary Dragon Boats Festival is this weekend. Photo by Richard Amery
“I’m not a competitive person, but when I get in that boat with people I’ve trained with and socialized with, I just want to beat everyone. And there’s four boats in a row with 18 to 20 people in each of them waiting to start, and they’re all thinking the same thing,” said Johnson, who in between helping organize the event, is paddling with the Nauti Gals.

Johnson was assistant coach of Team ID for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. In 2008, the Rotary Festival decided to “beef up” the training provided to the festival teams so asked her to be one of the festival head coaches.

She completed the Level A of the National Coaching Certification Program in 2008, obtaining her Dragon Boat Canada Level One Coaching Certification in 2010. She has taken Dragon Boat Canada Officiating Level One in 2010, Critical Eye Coaching sessions, and several paddling technique workshops. Karen attended the Water’s Edge Dragon Boat Conference in Vancouver in April 2009 and 2010 and Dragon Boat Canada conferences in Toronto 2012 and Montreal 2013. Karen has officiated in Lethbridge, Edmonton, Vancouver and Regina.

She added there are opportunities to travel too.
“Pond Scum, from Regina went to Puerto Rico for the Pan American Dragon Boats championship in Ponce, Puerto Rico in March,” she said noting they medalled in every event they entered. So competition is stiff.
 She brought two dragon boat teams including the Canuck Cruisers and Coulee Classic Dragons to New Zealand in April for the World Masters Games.

“It was amazing. You don’t have to qualify to go there. We spent most of our time in Auckland. It’s such a beautiful country, I’d love to live there,” she said adding  Lethbridge teams will be going to Australia in November 2018.
“ It‘s so great to see. There were over 40 countries from all over the world participating in it. It‘s all about the sport, it’s not about politics or religion,” she said.


Dragon Boats Festival and Pride week among the highlights of the week

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There is barely time to take a breath from a busy Lethbridge Jazz and Blues festival week. This week not only features several shows and dances for Pride week, but it is Dragon boat weekend over at Henderson Lake park, June 23-25.Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction are among the local performers at the Rotary Dragon Boat Races this year. Photo by Richard Amery
This is also the week to welcome back long lost friends.

 Darryl Düus, who returned home from B.C. to play several blues festival shows with Papa King,   hosts the Slice open mic, June 22 with Taylor Ackerman, who returns from Halifax this week. Ackerman also premieres his new band Global Acid Reset at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, next week, on June 30.

This week though the Owl Acoustic lounge hosts a couple of pride week shows including Victoria pop band Smoke Eaters and Toronto garage rock/pop band Peeling with local band Wint on June 20.
The Owl also host a pride week show featuring Vancouver moody pop band Supermoon and local synth pop band Open Channels, June 21.

 The Owl features Megan Brown’s band Makiisma and Dempsey Bolton on June 23.
 And if you remember the ’90s and  the popular Big Shiny Tunes compilations, local musicians will be performing their favourite Big Shiny Tunes songs at  the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 24.

 Club Didi has a pride week open mic on June 21.

 Coyote Joes also has their open mic with Dayan Delaney, June 23.
The Slice has a variety of music this week. Local singer songwriter The Cody Hall band are doing double duty on Saturday, June 24 with a 3 p.m. slot at the Dragon boat races and an evening show at the Slice at 9 p.m.
They will be playing with Ontario folk rock duo Artemis in the Summer (Justin Kennelly and Danica Sommer).


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