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L.A. Beat

Comedy a highlight of All Fired Up

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New West Theatre’s new production is already getting audiences  “all feared up,” all “Fred up,”  but mostly “all fired up.”Kathy Zaborsky sings  during “All Fired Up.” Photo by Richard Amery
An almost sold out opening night crowd, Aug. 5 including people from Washington D.C., Columbus, Ohio and even New Brunswick got into the spirit as the cast, dressed in gold lamée, opened their latest show by delivering a spirited rendition of Kiss’  “Shout It Out Loud.”

I was actually surprised they didn’t include Pat Benetar’s “All Fired Up,”  that being the title of the show.

But “Shout It Out Loud” and a cool version of ‘Jessie’s Girl’ was the closest thing to rock and roll this show included as the musical numbers focused on more disco and ’70s AM radio soft rock.

An early highlight of the show took on the ’80s fitness craze as the cast took the stage in an array of exercise outfits, and bearing a variety of exercise equipment performed to Olivia Newoton John’s “Let’s Get Physical.

It was an extremely physical show as per usual, with the energetic cast bounding all over the stage, which was compunded by the new dancers who made their feats of athletic and artistic prowess look easy.

But for the most part it was disco music all the way. And even though I’d rather be dead then listen to disco music, the cast sure can sing it. So I appreciated it for what it is and how they deliver it.

 Ife Abiola does a mean James Brown impression, right down to doing the splits. He was obviously “Feeling Good,” as he and the rest of the cast beamed ear to ear during their performances.

He also shone on an early Michael Jackson number “Don’t Stop ’til You get Enough,” which showcased some fabulous dance moves from “ bendy, flippy dancers  (as MCs Erica Hunt and  Grahame Renyk introduced them at the beginning of the show)” Claire Lint, Carlynn Antoniuk, Evan Cowan and Josh Malcolm, who were highlights of  the show.

Who needs “So You Think You Can Dance” reality TV rubbish, when you have talent like this in our own little city.

Kathy Zaborsky delivered a stunningly beautiful performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but the dancers’ impressive ballet dance moves during were a bit of a distraction from her performance.

So there was something for everyone for that number, and indeed  the entire show.

 For me, the comedy segments totally made “All Fired Up.”

Anytime Fred Hillyer took the stage, be it wearing a sombrero, a Scottish cap, dressed as an oldster or holding a notebook to deliver “serious pieces,” he had the crowd howling with laughter. And you couldn’t stop him when paired up with the always brash and hilarious Erica Hunt. Unfortunately I still couldn’t hear some of his punch lines, being drowned out by the audience’s laughter.


Ife Abiola and Erica Hunt get “All Fired Up.” Photo by Richard AmeryHe showed he could deliver a tender ballad with the best of them on Carole King’s  “You’ve Got A Friend” which sounded a lot like James Taylor.

The second set began with a percussion powered version of Toto’s hit “Africa” which featured haunting background harmonies,  from the cast who were scatting, Abiola singing the low part of the chorus and Mark Nivet reaching for , but not quite hitting, the excruciatingly high high notes of the chorus.

But the comedy bits were the best. Highlights included Hillyer, Hunt  and Grahame Renyk’s election bit. Another highlight was  Hillyer’s story pondering what happens when inflation affects words which sound like numbers, which proved why numbers and letters should never be together.

 Kathy Zaborsky starred as a police officer trying to bust Mark Nivet for drinking and driving and her bit with Nivet  warning him about bear safety. She also had a great bit  with  the always funny Jocelyn Haub as twin sisters from “the homeland” comparing notes on trying to find a husband.

 Another brilliant bit was  a “dance off” between Abiola, Hillyer, Renyk and Nivet against the professional dancers Evan Cowan and Josh Malcolm.

Haub was as hilarious as always playing off Renyk during their news segment.
Abiola and Hillyer had another highlight with Hillyer trying to explain all of the different types of Canadian quarters to a foreign tourist being played by Abiola.

The best one was Renyk and Erica Hunt playing Quebec tourists trying to find Lethbridge on a GPS, which had the audience howling as each misunderstanding got worse.

“All Fired Up” runs at 8 p.m. every Monday -Saturday until Aug. 28. There are also matinees at 1 p.m. Aug.14 and 21

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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