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New West Theatre is all about “Home Grown” Canadian talent

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New West Theatre is not only celebrating “home grown” Canadian music but also local music in their new summer production, aptly titled Home Grown, running July 5-22 in the Yates Theatre.

Erica Hunt, AJ Baragar, Scott Carpenter, Rylan Kunkel, Kathy Zaborsky, Kyle Gruninger and Shel0by Wilson of New West Theatre are excited to present Home Grown at the Yates Theatre, July 5-22 at 7:30 p.m. each night. Photo by Richard Amery
 In addition to familiar cast members including Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky and relative newcomers including Shelby Wilson, Aj Baragar and Rylan Kunkel, New West also welcomes special guests for every week of the run, with John Wort Hannam performing during the first week, Jason Poulsen, who has been a regular cast member in the second week and local country singer Trevor Panczak performing during the last week of the run.
The guests will join the cast to sing a few numbers as well as performing their original music.


“Canada has such a rich musical history, so this show is  about celebrating that and  local talent. Because they are the future. People like John Wort Hannam, Jason Poulsen and Trevor Panczak will be like the next Gordon Lightfoot,” said director Sharon Peat.


“I think we have some really excellent talent here.  So we’re celebrating the past, but it’s also important to look at the future and celebrating it,” Peat said.


“ At one point we had a song list of 180 songs which we had to trim down to a set of 16. Usually Paul Walker is responsible for songs but this time, we formed a little committee including Kathy Zaborsky and (New West guitarist) Scott Mezei,” Peat said, adding some people will ask why certain songs have not been included.
“In some cases, it will be because we just did a song by that particular artist,” she said.

“This is my second show and AJ’s third show so they know us. They are choosing the best songs for our voices,” observed Rylan Kunkel, who has been performing with the Great Canadian Barn Dance with his family almost since he learned he could sing.
“I’m excited to play with Trevor Panczak again. He basically lives at the barn dance and he always plays a fundraiser with the UFA in Pincher Creek. He‘s a great guy, writes great songs and is a great performer,” he said.

“I’m playing saxophone on Hank SnowRylan Kunkel sings Great Big Sea with new West Theatre’s production of Home Grown. Photo by Richard Amery’s ‘Movin’ On. I’m playing the fiddle lines in the song. I also get to sing a Michael Bublé song. I love to croon at people,” Kunkel enthused, adding he is excited about the variety of songs in the show.


“They range from Rush to Hank Snow. So it’s interesting. We‘re crooning on one song and going to a hard rock number for the next song,” he said, noting he also plays the Irish drum, the bodhran on “Ordinary Day.”
“I get to play guitar on ‘Rock Me Gently’, but I ’m singing a medley of Steppenwolf songs,” enthused Baragar , who also writes songs, but isn’t performing any of them in this show.


“The first song we do, Great Big Sea’s ‘Ordinary Day,’ is really what this show is all about. It really is down to earth and down home,” Baragar continued, adding the show has a nostalgic feel.


“I hope people will come and say ‘hey I recognize that song.’ I remember that,” Baragar continued.


“I really love how close the cast has become,” Kunkel said.


“It’s a real family feeling,” Peat added, noting the comedy is also Canadian written and inspired with plenty of self deprecating humour Canadians are known for. There may even be some Arrogant Worms as well as original comedy written by New West
Homegrown, runs in the Yates Theatre, July 5-22 at 7:30 p.m. There are also matinees July 8, 15 and 22 at 1 p.m.

 

A version of this story appears in the July 5, 2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/ Shopper

 

— by Richard Amery , L.A. Beat Editor

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