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L.A. Beat


Pridefest welcomes “Where The Two Spirit Lives” to Club Didi

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Pridefest and Theatre Outré are collaborating on a cornerstone performance  by Southern Albertan actor Marshall Vielle about the challenges growing up as a two spirited individual in Southern Alberta.

Marshall Vielle performs Where the Two Spirit lives at Club Didi, June 14-18. Photo by Richard Amery
“Where the Two Spirit Lives” runs  June 14-18 at Club Didi at 8 p.m. each night throughout Pridefest.

“It’s important to tell stories like this,” said Theatre Outré artistic director Jay Whitehead, noting it is an ideal show for Pridefest, as it explores important issues of gender identity and indigenous people]s issues through storytelling and drag, so they were excited  to collaborate with Vielle on the show, as Club Didi was where he first started performing in drag shows.

 “It is all the more important today when gay rights are being taken back. It’s very funny and entertaining, but it is also serious. Marshall explores three different characters,” Whitehead said.

Vielle noted the show evolved out of his final  project for his BFA, at the University of Lethbridge. He is excited to finally bring it to stage for it’s debut at Club Didi after two years of hard work.

“I didn’t really get into drag until I was in my third or fourth year of university. But I was really determined,” Vielle said.
“It’s a very personal story about growing up  as a two  spirited person in Southern Alberta and all of the challenges I faced,” said Vielle, noting he grew up on the Blood Reserve. Vielle started off  by making a playlist of  all of the songs  that influenced him as a drag performer and built the show around that.


Playgoers of Lethbridge holding auditions for Exit Laughing

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Playgoers of Lethbridge want you to “Exit Laughing,” in October.
 They are holding auditions for their Oct. 22-26 production of  Paul Elliott’s comedy “Exit Laughing,” June 26 and 27 in the Casa Meeting room from 7-9 p.m.
Director Linda Johnson is keeping her cards close to her chest about what the play is about.
“I don't want to give away too much info about the play other than: "When the biggest highlight in your life for the past 30 years has been your weekly bridge night out with the girls, what do you do when one of your foursome inconveniently dies,” she described in an e-mail.

Elliott’s new comedy “ Exit Laughing completed its developmental staging with the Reunion Theatre Group outside of Seattle  to rave reviews, then won the 2013 AACTfest with a record-breaking premiere  at the Springfield Little Theatre ‘s historic Landers Theater.  

By the end of its premiere run, Exit Laughing had broken a 50-year record for the amount of money raised and tickets sold and packed houses every night with standing room only.

 The cast requires three women in their late ’50s to ’60 to play the three southern ladies from Birmingham, Alabama , Connie, Leona and Millie who borrow the ashes of their recently deceased friend from the funeral home for one last card game and the most exciting night of their life begins as hilarity ensues involving a police raid,  a stripper and much more.
 The play also requires one woman in her early ’20s and a man in his 20s.
 They also need a producer and production staff
No preparation required.

The show runs in Country Kitchen, Oct. 22-26. Johnson hopes to begin rehearsals in mid-July.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Local actor bringing “A Pink Unicorn” to SAAG for Pridefest

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Pridefest is coming up and Ashley Thomson is excited to return home to Lethbridge to kick it off with her one woman production of Elise Forier Edie’s 2011 play the Pink Unicorn, June 9 at 3 p.m. at  SAAG.Ashley Thomson prerforms A Pink Unicorn at SAAG for Pridefest, June 9. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a really beautiful story about a conservative Christian mother who learns her daughter comes out as transgendered, ” said Thomson, who is a veteran of many a New West Theatre Christmas show and several University of Lethbridge performances and played Puck in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“It’s a beautiful story as she questions her religion and her spirituality and he family. She tells the story from a lot of different character’s points of view, but there is no costume changes,” she continued.

“ But it really is about love and acceptance. It takes place in a fictional Texas town, so it is fun to play with a Texas accent,” she said.


Auditions coming for Lethbridge Musical Theatre and Chinook High School’s production of Newsies

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Extra, extra, read all about it, Lethbridge Musical Theatre has joined forces with Chinook High School to bring award winning musical Newsies to the Yates Theatre, Nov. 1-9.
“This project is a hybrid project with Lethbridge Musical Theatre and the choral and musical theatre program at Chinook High School,” said director Dave Mikuliak, who is excited to  be directing the first main stage Lethbridge Musical Theatre production is several years. The massive cast of 60 will include a combination of students and  community members, so there are separate auditions for the public on June 5 from 7-9 p.m.  at the Country Kitchen, but you need to sign up for a slot though Lethbridge musical theatre’s new website
 Auditions for students are June 4 at Chinook High school. Chinook High School students will have their own auditions, as Newsies will be part of their curriculum, which focuses on acting, singing and dancing.

“We did Les Mis which is more singing and dancing and  Fiddler on the Roof, which is more book based, so I’m excited to continue that with Newsies,” Mikuliak enthused.
 The 2012 Broadway show  is inspired by the 1899 New York newsboys strike,which also inspired a 1992 movie.

“Though the musical and  the movie are quite different,” said Mikuliak, who is excited to combine the energy and budget of LMT and Chinook High School.
“ So the newsies will be youth, though it’s written so they can be girls too as that part of the show is written for higher register voices. And the adult characters can be adults,” he continued, adding there are some familiar names like newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer.

“ Lethbridge Musical Theatre hasn’t done a mainstage production at the Yates Theatre for about four years, so it is very cool to be able to help bring that back now they‘re in  a financial position to do something like this.,” said Mikuliak, who has been involved in many LMT productions over the years including Guys and Dolls and Oliver. The last LMT mainstage production was Guys and Dolls in 2014., though they have put on a couple smaller shows to raise funds including Nunsense and Nunsense 2.

“LMT played an important formative role in my life when I was on my 20s and 30s  from 1989 to about 1994,” he enthused, adding he directed Finnegan’s Rainbow in 1995.
“ It’s funny, but a lot of the cast probably wouldn’t even have been born, when I directed my last LMT show. So it’s pretty special to be back,” he chuckled, adding he was excited to research the background for the show.


Hatrix Theatre keeps ahead of the “Rumors”

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Rumors fly in Hatrix Theatre’s upcoming production of the Neil Simon farce “Rumors” at McNally school, May 29-JunBrad Pace and Jocelyn Steinborn rehearse for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amerye 1.
Hatrix welcomes aboard some new faces as well as some familiar faces.

“It’s about four couple who get together to celebrates a fifth couple’s tenth anniversary. The first couple arrive to find the host has been shot and his wife is missing, they try to keep it from the second couple and they try to keep that from the third couple until the police show up,” summarized director Karolyn Harker, noting the playwright passed away last year, though she had already chosen to do the play before then.

“And as they try to not let the cat out of the bag, the rumours start to fly. Who could have shot Charlie and who is having an affair at the club and who is having an affair on the democratic campaign trail,” she continued, adding Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in the play, brought Harker the play, who was immediately drawn to the writing.
“I was in a production of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and really enjoyed the writing, It moves along quickly,” Harker said.

“We’ve got several new faces and some familiar faces. They’ve all been wonderful,” Harker said.
Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in Rumors, is glad to be back with Hatrix. He was one of several actors in this play who were also in 12 Angry Jurors, including Vicki Gibson, who plays Officer Welch, Lisa Gearing, who plays Officer Pudney, Brad Pace, who plays Glenn and Elise Tiffany who plays Claire and Richard Amery, who plays Ernie.Vittorio Oliverio rehearses for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amery

“I found this play because I love Neil Simon’s plays and I’ve never been in one, and wanted to do one, so I brought it to Karolyn,” he said.
“I’m excited about it,” he continued, he said, noting he is enjoying playing deaf for a large part of the play.
“He’s a fun character to play,” he said. Ken and his wife Chris are the first couple to discover their host Charlie has been shot and try to cover it up as the other couples arrive.

 “ But he screws it up,” he said.
“ Ken likes to be in control of everything, but he isn’t here,” he said.

Taber actor Jocelyn Steinborn has become a familiar face performing with Playgoers of Lethbridge and in the One Act Play Festival this year.
“It’s my first show with Hatrix. The story is hilarious and I just wanted to be part of it,” said Steinborn, who plays the crystal loving, somewhat paranoid Cassie, who is married to ambitions Poughkeepsie politician Glenn, played by Brad Pace. She is enjoying playing a more soap operatic role.
“She‘s definitely more insecure than any other character I’ve played,” Steinborn observed.
“She’s a bit of a gold digger and very concerned with outward appearances,” she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said.

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