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L.A. Beat

New West Theatre celebrates 30 years with expanded season

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New West Theatre celebrates 30 years with a new general manager and a new take on old ideas.

Kelly Reay  is excited about New West Theatre's thirtieth anniversary season. Photo by Richard Amery
“We’re known for our musical comedy revues. Those are our tent pole events so we‘d never stop doing those because our audiences have stayed with us and expect those, but we’re expanding the schedule because we also want to increase our audience,” said general manager Kelly Reay, who directs  the first musical  comedy revue, not taking place until August. It is a tribute to the women of music — Divine: The Divine Women of Song runs Aug. 7-24. The other Musical comedy revue is their popular Christmas show, “Celebrate: The Anniversary Special will run Dec. 18-Jan. 4.

“We’re going longer runs and we’ve added a few Tuesday shows and Sunday matinees,” he observed.
“It”s our thirtieth anniversary, so we’ve got a bigger season. it will be a nod to our past but it also shows we’re looking at the future ,” he continued, noting they have added a  “fun pirate tale” “ the Legend of the Lost Tooth,” penned by U of L professor Nicola Elson for their new years theatre for young people show.

“ It’s a fun. It‘s got something for kids and adults because we don’t want them to get bored,” he said.
 Inspired by  the success of the rock and roll musical “The Million Dollar Quartet” last year, they are doing two more for this season.

Alan James and Rob Bettison’s “ Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” runs  at the Yates Theatre, Sept. 4-21. They held an open audition call for that show.

“We’ve cast Fraser Elsdon as Buddy Holly. He’s played the part before. But it’s a large cast of 11 people,” he continued, adding they are in the process of finalizing the cast for that show.


 He is especially excited about the next  musical — “Dear Johnny Deere”  is a 2015 musical inspired by the music and lyrics of renown Canadian folk / country/ alt country singer Fred Eaglesmith, written by Ken Cameron. It will run March 4-14, 2020.

“It’s about a farm family going through some tough times. In this show, the cast will also be playing instruments. It’s a smaller cast of six,” he observed, adding he is most excited to present this play.

“I’m a big fan of Ken Cameron,” he said, adding they are glad to be back in the Yates Theatre.
“We couldn’t be there last year because of renovations,” he observed.

 in addition to  using the Yates, they also have several  productions  out of town and elsewhere in the city.
 They are bringing a musical comedy revue “Roots: back To The beginning,” June 21 and 22 in the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod.

“It’s our thirtieth year, so we wanted to go back to the Empress,” he said.
 They also have two Andrew Legg penned summer productions at  the Galt Museum and Fort Whoop up.
“Trader Tales is slightly changed version of last year‘s Trader’s Tales,” he said.
 It runs  May 2-Aug. 28.
New West is exploring dinner theatre with Life on the Whoop Up Trail, Wednesday nights July 10-Aug. 21.
“When I arrived, I had a lot of people  asking me if I was going to make any changes. I didn’t want to make change for changes’s sake, but I did want to  encourage growth, especially when there may be tough times ahaed for funding,” he said.

— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
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