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New West celebrates the ’60s in Bandstand

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New West Theatre is embracing the ’60s in their new production “Bandstand,” which is a nod to the variety shows of the 1960s.
 Director Jay Whitehead has enjoyed working with the cast and crew to represent the decade as accurately as possible.


The cast of Bandstand ends a scene. Photo by Richard Amery
“The first thing we noticed about the ’60s is just how diverse the musical genres were,” he said.

“So we start with traditional ’50s classic pop rock, then the British Invasion, then folk hymns of the love generation. There is also a little bit of psychedelic rock and roll,” he said, adding they have tried to touch on all of the iconic songs of the ’60s.

“We wanted to represent all sides of the swinging ’60s,” he said.

“The biggest challenge was finding a sense of cohesion and representing the decade truthfully,” he said adding he wanted to capture the essence of the era’s freedom of expression.

“Bandstand” not only examines  all the eras of ’60s music, but  the quirky comedy of it too.
“It’s the music,” enthused New West Theatre veteran Erica Hunt of her favourite part of the show.
“Last summer we did the ’50s. This year it is the ’60s. And the the ’60s were so influential,” she said
“So there is late ’50s style pop and rock and roll, the British Invasion, the peace protests, hippies and there’s even some psychedelia and some Motown,” Hunt continued.

 She is enjoying the show’s concept, which incorporates a stage set up like the set of the old Laugh-In variety show.
“It’s a big tribute to the variety shows of the ’60s which were so popular in that era,” she said.

“ But the music is incredible. You’ll find something for everyone,” she said praising the cast and crew for their work.
“The people are terrific. It’s going to give people that nostalgic feeling,” she enthused.

New West Theatre veteran  Ian Yuri Gardner is glad to be back in Bandstand, which runs July 4-28 at the Yates Theatre.Ian Yuri Gardner is back for New West Theatre’s production of Bandstand. Photo by Richard Amery

“It’s a revue of ’60s TV shows like Ed Sullivan and Laugh In and of course Bandstand,” he summarized. He performed with New West from 2002-2005, then made the leap to Broadway, where he joined a touring production of Disney’s The Lion King. He is back for the month of July to join New West Theatre again for Bandstand.

“We think it is really reminiscent of the ’60s,” he continued.

Gardner, who appears in Bandstand with the permission of the Canadian Actor’s  Equity Association, went to college in Lacombe at the Canadian Union College from 1988-92 where he earned a BA in Applied Music.

It’s been great to come back and work with people I feel are family,” he said.
He enjoys the camaraderie of the cast.

“I love  performing. But I like what happens after the shows, there’s barbecues and parties,” he said.
 Whitehead noted the production is developing well.

 “It’s been fantastic. We’ve created the mood and have an exciting cast. It looks great. it’s going to be a really fun show,” Whitehead said.
 The show runs July 4-28 at 8 p.m. every night except Sundays and Mondays. There is also a 1 p.m. matinee on July 14.

— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
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