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New West is Born to Rock

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New West Theatre is looking forward to rocking out Aug. 3-27 after going back to the ’50 with  “Twist and Shout,” their most successful summer show yet.New West Theatre’s Born To Rock begins, Aug. 3. Photo by Richard Amery
“It‘s been a lot of fun because the shows are just so different in terms of style and musical genre,” said director Jay Whitehead, who directed both shows.

Most of the cast were also involved with “Twist and Shout,” performing it at night, while rehearsing the new show “Born To Rock,” during the days, working around the massive ’50s diner set used for the former.
“Born To Rock” includes a wide range of music. It appeals to a wide range of generations from the ’70s to today,” Whitehead continued.

There is a variety of music from CCR, the Police, some Guns N Roses and Bryan Adams ‘Kids Wanna Rock,’ which the cast was busily learning the dance choreography for during the interview.
Whitehead along with musical director Paul Walker and assistant director Erica Hunt chose the music.

“It’s a high energy show,” he observed.

“It will be fun for the whole family.”

The show includes four new dancers, Sydney Peters, Christi Harris, Jenn Beaver and Tessa Tamura as well as the return of a favourite familiar face— Grahame Renyk.
Renyk estimated he has been in about 10 New West productions including directing  “For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.”
“It’s just nice to be back with the cast and working with the band. They are all pretty special people,” he said. He is also back in Lethbridge to teach in the University of Lethbridge drama department  for the fall semester before heading back to Toronto.

“And this time working with four wonderful dancers. It’s been a lot of fun,” he continued adding the show is coming together really well.
“I think the show looks great. It is very diverse, there is a lot of  really fun vocals and  excitement. I think people will really enjoy it,” he continued.

One of several new faces on board this summer is Calgarian Allison Lynch who is pleased to be spending this summer in Lethbridge making her debut as a performer and vocal director for both summer programs.
New West Theatre has been busy rehearsing their latest production, Born To Rock. Photo by Richard Amery“Everyone involved has been really nice. It’s been a fun way to spend the summer,” she observed. She said the talented cast made her job easy. She said each individual has their own style and strengths, which she believes she has captured in the shows.

 Working in the rock  and pop vein has been a departure from the norm for Lynch, who usually teaches and coaches classical and opera performers.

“ So this is different for me. It’s been a nice change from Mozart,” she said.
Working with the cast has been her highlight of the summer.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to come to work each day and work with all of these great people each day. It’s been quite a treat,” she said.

Artistic director Nicholas Hanson is looking forward to building on Twist and Shout’s momentum.
“We hope to build on the hype from ‘Twist and Shout.’  The last two shows are all sold out. So we’re thrilled people responded to it. We want to keep it going with ‘Born To Rock,’” he said.
“There are a lot of energetic numbers in ‘Born To Rock,” he observed adding the performers also show off their other skills.

“We have quite a few cast members who are also multi-instrumentalists, who can play guitar, bass and drums. So it is really awesome to find out that someone who is a really hilarious performer is also a really sweet guitar player. We try to showcase their talents,” Hanson continued.

Born to Rock runs in the Yates Theatre, Aug. 3-27, Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. each night with 1 p.m. matinees Aug. 13,20  and 27.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
A version of this story appears in the Aug. 3, 2011 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
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