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Christmas with the classics as Dickens Meets Shakespeare

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Celebrate the Christmas season with Dickens Meets Shakespeare, Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at Casa.(L-R); Heather Ladd, Jeff Graham and Kristine Alexander are getting into the Christmas spirit with Shakespeare Meets Dickens, Dec. 16 at Casa. photo by Richard Amery
 The show features a strong cast of performers, performing Charles Dickens’ “ A Christmas Carol,” followed by songs, sonnets and Shakespeare.
“The evening will begin with a performance of Charles Dickens ‘ A Christmas Carol’ and Christmas carols from the Victorian period,” said Shakespeare In The park co-ordinator Kate Connolly.
“It will be followed by all things Shakespeare including scenes, songs and sonnets,” she added.

A Christmas Carol will be performed by a lot of familiar faces from Shakespeare in the park including Andrew Legg and Dj Gellatly, who have directed Shakespeare in the Park productions and Derek Stevenson who has performed with the local Shakespeare troupe.

 It will also feature veterans from community theatre like Shelley David and Jeff Graham and some familiar faces from the University of Lethbridge’s drama productions.
“We have a lot of directors, actors and board members from community theatre performing,” Connolly said.

“ A Christmas Carol” is widely regarded as a Christmas classic, but it is more than that.
“Dickens wrote the stories in the 1840s. It was a time known as the Hungry ’40s because of an economic slump and the rising food prices which lead to a huge rise in poverty especially in London,” Connolly said.
“Dickens wrote  ‘A Christmas Carol’ to draw attention to the plight of the urban poor. There’s Scrooge, the grasping miser who learns to true meaning of Christmas through the intervention of three ghosts of Past, Present and Future. It also includes Bob Cratchett and his family including Tiny Tim, a young crippled boy who has this amazing love for all humanity,” she continued.
Megan Wittig, the music director of the musical portion of the evening will be singing and is coaching several performers including Matt Cameron, Chris Peterson, Brenton Taylor and Erica Barr.
Jeneva Moxon, who was stage manager for this summer’s production of Romeo and Juliet will be directing Shakespeare Meets Dickens.


Auditions for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s A Doll's house this week

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Juanita DeVos is excited to direct Playgoers of Lethbridge’s Feb. 8-11 production of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.”
 She already has most of her backstage crew in place, the next step is auditions, which take place, Dec. 9 and 10 at Casa.
 If  you are interested in trying out for the play, book an audition time for Dec. 9 and 10 by going to
DeVos will get back to you, if those times don’t work she will do her best to accommodate your schedule.

“The people who have booked times will be able to audition at that time and we’ll fit in people who drop in around those times,” DeVos said, noting she is excited to work with Playgoers veteran Eric Low.

“ I worked with him  for Noises Off and wanted to work with him again,” she said, noting Low was originally planning to direct “A Doll’s House,” but had to back out  due to health issues.

“But he already did a lot of research in to the characters and the production, so he will be our dramaturge,” DeVos enthused.

 The play requires a cast of four men and four women plus two children — a boy and a girl.

Playgoers is using a 1936 Thornton Wilder acting version of the play, which is about “Nora, the wife of a banker, Thorwald, has a secret debt, incurred with good intentions and a forged signature. When her husband is promoted to bank manager, the threat of blackmail threatens to destroy his career and their family life together. As circumstances unravel, Nora realizes the truth of her situation: she accuses her husband and her father before him of having used her as a doll. In one of the most famous scenes ever written for the stage, Nora slams the door on her domestic life as wife and mother until she can learn to be herself. The marriage of Ibsen's naturalistic style with Wilder's knack for emotional nuance creates a modern, vigorous acting version of this revered classic drama.” The original  play premiered in 1879.


Hatrix goes Holmes for the Holidays with murder mystery -comedy The Game’s Afoot

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Hatrix Theatre is planning on having a bloody good time for Christmas as they bring Ken Ludwig’s 2012 comedy thriller “The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for The Holidays” to the Nord Bridge Senior‘s Centre, Nov. 30-Dec. 3.Kelly Frewin and Vittorio Oliverio rehearse The Game’s Afoot , which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the Nord Bridge Senior’s Centre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a murder mystery staged around the life of William Gillette who actually wrote a play about Sherlock Holmes which ran for 20 years,” said director Karolyn Harker.

Gillette invites his friends in the cast to his mansion for Christmas Eve in 1936, where a storm’s a brewing as a poison pen theatre critic named Daria Chase pays them a visit, which leads to complications and hilarity as they hold a seance to find out who attempted to murder Gillette as well as the doorman at the theatre where they were performing.

“They get together for an evening and they face murder,” Harker said.

“Ken Ludwig, who also wrote Lend Me A Tenor, was a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and plays like  “The Mousetrap,” “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Deathtrap,” so there are references to all of those,” she continued. There are also Shakespeare references, a seance, a great 1930s soundtrack and a lot of laughter and hilarious characters. The play opens with a scene between Sherlock Holmes and his arch-nemesis Moriarty.

“Gillette is a character who wrote a play based on Sherlock Holmes, which brought him success greater than his wildest dreams and it’s allowed him to become quite well off, though he did lose his wife 10 years ago, said Kelly Frewin, who plays William Gillette.
“All of his friends are his fellow actors,” he continued.

While Gillette was a real person, Frewin didn’t do a lot of research into the “real” William Gillette.
“I didn’t do a lot of research, I wanted my character to be informed by the script and the other actors. So I didn’t want to go into it with a lot of pre-conceived ideas about him,” he said.

“He is confident to the point of arrogance, but he’s not an arrogant character,” he described.

Frewin is glad to be back on stage with Hatrix Theatre. He has had a busy Fall on stage, being part of Jesus Christ Superstar, but is excited to be back for his third Hatrix production.
“I was in the Gazebo as the Inspector and in Jitters as the leading man, Phillip. I’m just glad to be back on stage, other than in Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s been four years, so it’s just nice to be back on stage again,” he said.
 He hopes the audience will leave the play laughing.
“There are a lot of laughs. So I want them to laugh as well as think. There are lots of laughs, so I hope they have a good time,” Frewin said adding he is enjoying working with the cast.


Simon King brings hilarious “ranting and raving” to Lethbridge for Laughbridge comedy festival

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Stand-Up comedian Simon King is pleased to be able to return to Lethbridge to perform at a fundraiser for the LaughBridge Lethbridge  Comedy Festival.
 The UK/ Vancouver based King and local comedian Mav Adacer perform at the Slice, Nov. 25 at 8:30 p.m.
 King has been performing stand up comedy since 2000, has released two comedy albums, “Unfamous”  and his most recent “ Furious,” and is working on another. He has performed high profile events like the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has performed all over the world.
Robin Williams saw him perform and showered him with praise as well, saying "Having seen Simon perform many times I have been incredibly impressed with his unique talent. From everything I have seen Simon is truly a gifted comedian."
 He just returned from the United Kingdom.Comedian Simon King comes to Lethbridge this week. Photo submitted
“I was there for a couple weeks, but it’s nice to come home even when it’s winter because it does rain a lot over there,” he observed.
 He is a relative latecomer to stand-up comedy, only beginning performing in his early 20s for the first time.

“I wanted to be an actor and never really thought of  stand-up comedy, but I did my first (stand up comedy) show in February 2000 and immediately fell in love with it and decided to dedicate my life to it and 17 years later here I am. I’ve been lucky,” he said, adding getting the attention of a legend like Robin Williams, was a pleasant surprise.
“He saw me perform a couple of times. He was really nice, so I asked him to write a recommendation for me,” he said.
 While King is a fan of Robin Williams , he said he wasn’t an influence on him as a comedian, though there are similarities.
“I grew up in Britain and was raised British, so I was more influenced by Monty Python and the Flying Circus. Though we have have that same speed of delivery and  stream of consciousness, ranting and raving that Robin Williams had,” he said.
 He said a lot of his routine involved thinking on his feet.
“I don’t sit down and write jokes, I think about a topic I want to talk about, then I’ll riff on the subject and I remember the good parts. Usually the audience will let me know when I’ve gone too long, so I’ll keep the best pieces,“ he continued.
 King is happy to play a fundraiser for the Laughbridge comedy festival, which will take place next year.


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