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Beggar’s Opera crosses boundaries of usual opera

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The Beggar’s Opera isn’t your grandma’s opera. The U of L opera society present the John Gay penned 1728 fun little opera in The David Spinks Theatre,  Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
“It’s a revolutionary piece that split from all other operatic conventions,” described director Dr. Blaine Hendsbee.

Emily Fletcher, Dan Hall and Hannah Nickel are part of the Beggar’s Opera, Oct. 28 and 29 at the David Spinks Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s sung in English and it is about the common people— the underbelly of society — highway men and tavern women and people loved it, ” Hendsbee continued.
“It is about a love triangle between a highwayman, MacHeath and Pauline who is rather sweet and demure and Lucy, a tavern woman who is a little more straight-forward and she’s pregnant by MacHeath,” he said.


“It largely surprised theatre audience because it ‘borrowed’ in air quotes operatic music and replaced it with songs that people would have known and able to recognize,” he said.
“In the past 300 years it has been resurrected. Originally it was four hours long but we had to trim it to two hours including the intermission,” he said, adding it has a large cast of 35 people, which has been double cast.


“It’s brisk, fun and lively,” he said.


“It has period costumes designed by Leslie Robison- Greene and professor Douglas MacArthur is in the cast, which is fun,” he said adding they have always wanted to do an opera in the David Spinks Theatre instead of the Recital Hall.
“Usually they are performing in a proscenium arch, but this time it is a three corner stage, which has been a great learning experience for them,” he said adding the concert is already two thirds sold out.
“So we hope people will pick up tickets to avoid being disappointed.”

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Drowning Girls opens U of L mainstage theatre season

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 The University of Lethbridge opens up their new main-stage season, Oct. 18-22 in the David Spinks Theatre with a thought provoking, Alberta play “the Drowning Girls.”

 Shea Heatherington, Maddie Taylor Gregg and Shelby Wilson rehearse a scene from the Drowning Girls, running in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Oct. 18-22. photos by Richard Amery
University of Alberta students Beth Graham and Charlie Tomlinson and professor Daniela Vlaskalic penned the The 70 minute play in 1999 for the Edmonton Fringe Festival, basing it on the true story of George Joseph Smith who was hanged in 1915 for drowning his three wives in the early twentieth century.


“It’s the story of the experiences of a man who manipulates three women into marrying him and then kills them at different times,” said Madeleine Taylor-Gregg, who plays Margaret. She is joined by cast mates Shelby Wilson and  Shea Heatherington.


“They all meet in the future, though it is up to the audience’s own judgement to determine if it is in the afterlife,” she continued. After the three women meet they discuss how they met this man, their relationship to him and what happened to them.


“Margaret is the oldest of the three and is only married to him for one day before she is murdered,” she said.
“I think it’s a very well told and interesting story,” she said.
Director Gail Hanrahan is excited to present a popular Alberta penned play as the first production of the season.


“ It‘s a very short play, only 70minutes long, based on the story “Brides of the Bath,” Hanrahan continued, noting the play has been relocated to the east coast of Canada rather than England where the original story took place.
 She noted it is  a pretty popular play.

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Playgoers of Lethbridge serves wedding laughs with Always a Bridesmaid

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Playgoers of Lethbridge invites Lethbridge to several fabulous weddings, Oct. 18-22 where they will be serving up laughs and amazing costumes with their upcoming dinner theatre, Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten’s comedy “Always a Bridesmaid” at Country Kitchen.

Jocelyn Steinborn, Emily Frewin and Rita Peterson rehearse Always a Bridesmaid. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s about  four women who promise to always be each other’s bridemaids. Only they don’t realize it is life long commitment,” summarized Jessica Meaker, who plays Kari, the daughter of one of the characters who is speaking at her own wedding and recalls the stories of each of these lifelong friends’ wedding adventures in this six woman production.


“She’s begins each scene speaking at her wedding,which sets the scene for one of the weddings the other four women are in,” said Meaker who is enjoying being part of her second production with Playgoers. She was in “Leading Ladies” last February.


“They‘re a really fun group to be part of. There are  a lot of laughs, for sure,” she said.


“And this just seemed to be a little bit different. It’s just a really funny show,” she  continued.
Playgoers of Lethbridge president Elaine Jagielski returns to the stage as Sedalia in “Always A Bridesmaid,” after taking a some time away from the stage.


“She’s the owner of Laurelton, the establishment where all of these weddings take place. She’s the gregarious, energetic Virginian hostess and life force,” Jagielski described.


“She doesn’t take any nonsense and wants everything to go without a hitch,” she continued, adding that creates hilarious conflict between her and other characters including Charlie, played by Emily Frewin. There are several familiar faces in the cast including Shelley David as  Monette, Rita Peterson as Deedra and newcomer Jocelyn Steinborn who is commuting from Taber to be part of Always a Bridesmaid as Libby Ruth.


“ She has created some issues which created a fiasco which is a no no at Laurelton,” she said.

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Jesus Christ Superstar resurrected for LSCO

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 Director Fran Rude is resurrecting rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar to help raise some money for the LSCO, Oct. 13-16 at the Yates Theatre.


“I never realized what a hub of the community the LSCO is until I started taking classes there,” said Rude, noting all proceeds from the $52 tickets will go towards programming at the LSCO.


“ So it is a good cause,” said musical director Ken Rogers, who is conducting a live, 16 piece pit band to accompany the 44 member cast.David Mikuliak and George Gallant rehearse Jesus Christ Superstar, which runs at the Yates Theatre, Oct.t. 13-16. Photo by Richard Amery


  This will be the third time Rude has directed the famous 1970 Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera about the final seven days of Jesus Christ.
 It was turned into a popular movie in 1973.


 This production includes several of the members from the first production Rude directed 30 years ago and a few of the original costumes.
“When you decide to put on Jesus Christ Superstar, all license holders send you is the book of music, so I had to carry a Bible around with me the first time to see who is in what scene,” Rude said, noting her productions focuses on the Book of John’s story of the crucifixion and resurrection.


 She is excited to welcome back George Gallant as Jesus.
“It’s his iconic role,” she said.
 The experienced cast also includes Mark Campbell as Judas, Dave Mikuliak as Pilate, Bill Lawson as Herod, Jory Kohn as  Mary Magdalene, Martin Madge as Caiaphas, Chris Klassen as Peter, Evan Herbert as Simon Zealotes and Mark Wood as Annas.
“It’s a revival of production 30 years ago.The singing is fabulous, the writing is great and we have five of the eight original principals. And several of the original chorus members,” she enthused.
Ken Rogers is excited about the musical part of the show.
“We have a 16 member live band. We’re going to fill the pit. They are all really the top players in the city. Some of them were in the first production like Don Robb and I’ve done a lot of stuff with them,” Rogers said.
Rude is proud of her cast.
“It is a big cast with 44 people in it. The original had 55. It’s a big show, which can be challenging. It is well organized,“ Rude said.
“They are making me proud,” she enthused.

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