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New West Theatre has a story to tell this season

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New West Theatre  has  a ‘story’ to tell during their their new season, which they revealed after much secrecy at a special  gala evening in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, April 27.Scott Carpenter sings ‘Crocodile Rock,’ April 27. Photo by Richard Amery
Bente Hansen played piano while  artistic director Nicholas Hansen  and general manager Jeremy Mason gave an audience including lots of familiar New West Theatre  faces, board members and patrons, a summary of the season past and let helium balloons  attempt to lift paper covering up posters for each show, revealing the surprise line up.
 Scott Carpenter sang ‘Crocodile Rock’ for the audience, accompanied by Bente on piano.
This season’s theme ‘Have We Got A Story for You’ includes a familiar formula — three gala music and dance productions of favourite hits and  a couple of great Canadian plays.
The first production is a wild west themed musical production  just in time for the Calgary Stampede called ‘Rockin’ The Rodeo’ which runs  July 2-24 and will feature  country hits and comedy from Hank Williams to Shania Twain and country fried comedy numbers.
“We really keep our ears to the ground about what is popular in Lethbridge as well as what is happening in Canada,” said Jeremy Mason,  New West Theatre’s general manager adding the actors have pretty much been chosen for the first two musical productions.
“The actors for the  summer musical productions will be very similar to last year. There will be Erica Hunt, Kathy Zaborsky, Scott Carpenter, Jessica Enns and some new faces,” Mason observed.
Shortly after that, New West gets ‘All Fired Up’ with a more pop and rock flavoured production, Aug. 5-28.
The first Canadian play of the season runs Sept. 30-Oct. 9 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre
 Michel Tremblay’s  ‘For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again’ will appeal to anybody who has had a mother. The play explores  a successful artist ’s life as he reflects  on how his exuberant mother has influenced every aspect of his life.
“This play has been popular  across Canada over the past 15 years. Michel Tremblay is one of Canada’s pre-eminent playwrights,” Mason continued.
New West Theatre celebrates Christmas a little bit early , Dec. 17-31 with a new musical number collecting the best toe tapping, show stopping gut busting songs and comedy bits  from the past few years into ’Glitz’.
Once again Munsch is back Dec. 26-Jan.8. The theme this year is a group of children are marooned on a tropical island but discover the joys of Munsch which lead them on some zany adventures.
Meghan Porteous, who was in this year’s Munsch show as well as The Attic, the  Pearls and Three Fine Girls, is looking forward to the next Munsch show.
“I missed the auditions for the summer productions, but  I really enjoy theatre for young audiences because I remember as a kid, how much it was  when these sorts of productions came to our schools. And of course Munsch is one of my favourite children’s authors,” said Porteous, who plans to audition for that show for sure.
“I’ve read Munsch of course, but I’m not familiar with the other  plays. I’ve read soem of Michel Tremblay and he’s just phenomenal.”
 The  season ends March 3-12 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre  with a  production  which  New West is really excited about — Calgary playwright Doug Curtis’s ‘Confessions of a Paperboy.’ It is about a paperboy who is hit by a car and talks to God in a quirky  coming of age story exploring life, faith and the excitement of a first kiss. New West Theatre put on a production of another one of Curtis’ play ‘Mesa’ which drew rave reviews a few years ago.
“I saw that play three years ago and since then it has played all across Alberta and Canada. His play ‘Mesa’ was very popular with New West audiences,” he continued.
 Though he hasn’t seen ‘Paperpboy,’ he knows  the playwright’s reputation so artistic director Nicholas Hanson is also looking forward to that production.
“When I read it I was struck by how it’s funny yet endearing it is. And with the other productions, this  is going to be really exciting,” he said.
Actress Erica Hunt is also excited about the upcoming season.
“We found out about it at the same time you did,” she enthused.
“It lookes like a really great season. And I directed Mesa, so I’m familiar with the playwright,” she said.
“It looks like the Christmas show is a little bit earlier. The season should be a lot of fun.”
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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