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Hatrix Theatre keeps ahead of the “Rumors”

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Rumors fly in Hatrix Theatre’s upcoming production of the Neil Simon farce “Rumors” at McNally school, May 29-JunBrad Pace and Jocelyn Steinborn rehearse for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amerye 1.
Hatrix welcomes aboard some new faces as well as some familiar faces.


“It’s about four couple who get together to celebrates a fifth couple’s tenth anniversary. The first couple arrive to find the host has been shot and his wife is missing, they try to keep it from the second couple and they try to keep that from the third couple until the police show up,” summarized director Karolyn Harker, noting the playwright passed away last year, though she had already chosen to do the play before then.


“And as they try to not let the cat out of the bag, the rumours start to fly. Who could have shot Charlie and who is having an affair at the club and who is having an affair on the democratic campaign trail,” she continued, adding Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in the play, brought Harker the play, who was immediately drawn to the writing.
“I was in a production of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and really enjoyed the writing, It moves along quickly,” Harker said.


“We’ve got several new faces and some familiar faces. They’ve all been wonderful,” Harker said.
Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in Rumors, is glad to be back with Hatrix. He was one of several actors in this play who were also in 12 Angry Jurors, including Vicki Gibson, who plays Officer Welch, Lisa Gearing, who plays Officer Pudney, Brad Pace, who plays Glenn and Elise Tiffany who plays Claire and Richard Amery, who plays Ernie.Vittorio Oliverio rehearses for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amery


“I found this play because I love Neil Simon’s plays and I’ve never been in one, and wanted to do one, so I brought it to Karolyn,” he said.
“I’m excited about it,” he continued, he said, noting he is enjoying playing deaf for a large part of the play.
“He’s a fun character to play,” he said. Ken and his wife Chris are the first couple to discover their host Charlie has been shot and try to cover it up as the other couples arrive.


 “ But he screws it up,” he said.
“ Ken likes to be in control of everything, but he isn’t here,” he said.


Taber actor Jocelyn Steinborn has become a familiar face performing with Playgoers of Lethbridge and in the One Act Play Festival this year.
“It’s my first show with Hatrix. The story is hilarious and I just wanted to be part of it,” said Steinborn, who plays the crystal loving, somewhat paranoid Cassie, who is married to ambitions Poughkeepsie politician Glenn, played by Brad Pace. She is enjoying playing a more soap operatic role.
“She‘s definitely more insecure than any other character I’ve played,” Steinborn observed.
“She’s a bit of a gold digger and very concerned with outward appearances,” she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said.

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New West Theatre ends season with play about cyberbullying

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New West Theatre winds up their season this week with a gripping Canadian play about cyberbullying  and it‘s consequences.New West theatre presents Girls Like That, May 15-25. Photo by Richard Amery
“Girls Like That” runs in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, May 15-25 Wednesday through Saturday. There are also special matinee performances for which several southern Alberta Schools are coming to see.
 They welcome back professional actors, New West Theatre veterans including Alexa Elser and Genevieve Paré, University of Lethbridge students and even a Shakespeare in the park veteran and U of L student  Alli Price.


The cast includes Mali King , Anastasia Siceac, Zoe Bracken, Vivian Ou, Mataya Mikuliak, Kaitlyn Olfert and Heather Gallipeau , who have been involved in an intense 13 day rehearsal process
“It’s a play about cyberbullying and it’s effects of social media on a generation of teenagers, ” said Alexa  Elser, who was part of several new West Music comedy revues including “All Spruced Up,” and ”Heatwave,” but has been working as an actor in Calgary since graduating from the University of Lethbridge in 2016 and returns to New West as a mentor to the younger actors.
“It’s about how cyberbullying has an effect on  the social community, school community and at home,” observed Zoe Bracken, who just graduated  for the University of Lethbridge with a performance degree and is returning for an education degree. She has enjoyed working with and learning from the professional actors.


“Professional actors are mentoring us, so it’s become a learning experience,” Bracken said.
“ It’s a really interesting script. Because the director breaks it up into pieces and gives  them to anywhere between five to 19 girls,” Elser said.
“ It has been split between 10 girls here,” Bracken added.


“But we could say ‘my character would never say that,’ and give it to another character,” Bracken continued.
“The dialogue is different, because it isn’t one character saying ‘hi’ and the other saying ‘hi’ back,” said director Sharon Peat.


According to the press release “Evan Placey’s Girls Like That is an urgent and explosive new play that explores the pressures on young people today in the wake of advancing technology. When a naked photograph of Scarlett goes viral, she becomes the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. But while rumours run wild and everyone forms an opinion, Scarlett just stays silent.
 Awarded Best Play for Young Audiences at the Writers Guild Awards, Girls Like That explores gender equality and the pressures on today’s digital generation. Airing the issues of feminism, self-esteem, peer group pressure and the dangers of the social media this is a must see for teens and parents.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.”


Director Sharon Peat observed this play has a very timely, constantly relevant theme and felt it was important to bring it to the stage.
“It fits in well with our Canadian play series. The playwright is a Canadian, though it was written for a British audience so we had to change things like Level Three instead of Grade 3,” she said.


“I’m a parent and my kids are grown up and I’m thankful they never had to experience cyberbullying. But as a high school teacher. I see it,” she continued.

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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.

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Lots of original works at Chinook One Act Play Festival

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 Playgoers of Lethbridge featured two big nights of mostly original drama at the Chinook Regional One Act Play Festival, Quinn Larder and Brent Clark in At the Mercy of the Waves. Photo by Richard AmeryMarch 29 and  30. I missed day two which featured, eventual winner , Playgoers of Lethbridge’s submission of Edward Albee’s Zoo story directed by first time director Mary-Lynn Muhly and performed by Cole Fetting and Josh Hammerstedt which took home  best play and moves on the the provincial One act Play competition in High River in May. 

But the first day featured all of the original scripts, which were well done and drew  great praise from adjudicator  Richard O’ Brien.Tracy Wyman won best female actress for her performance in   Falling Through Time at the One Act Play Festival, March 29-30 at the Sterndale bennett Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
 O’Brien really was taken by  the first play,the epic  “At the Mercy of the Waves, written by Jordy Wiens, about two homeless people fearing armageddon, surrounded by an assortment of trash and being driven crazy by the sound of the waves. Brent Clark won best Male Actor for his performance of Perry, a homeless man, who makes a  tin foil hat and draws the awe of his friend Myra, played by  Quinn Larder, who was charming in his innocence, trying to bond with Perry and who can’t figure out how to make a hat of his own. The script won best original script, which was accepted by director Tahnia Getson.

“Falling Through Time,” an original script written  by Tracy Wyman, who also won best female actor, joined by  Jocelyn Steinborn and Haley Gray, was three poignant monologues by three different women remembering harvest time, family members, tea time, photographs and memories of them both.


 The third play was amazing. Kayla Turnbull  penned a film noire styled script about a hit woman, Constance, played by Matya Mikuliak and her serial killer minion Sal, Jesse Thibert and his new girlfriend  Brea, played by Mariah  Jakob, who slowly becomes more obsessed with Constance and increasingly jealous of Sal and Constance’s relationship.

 It became increasingly unsettling and sinister as the story progressed.

Jesse Thibert played evil especially well as Sal, matching to the cold dispassion of his boss Constance, Mataya Mikulak. Mariah Jakob was equallMataya Mikuliak and Jesse Thibert in She Is Buried at the one Act Play Festival. Photo by Richard Ameryy impressive as Sal’s obsessive new beau and last murder victim Brea.

Adjudicator O’ Brien was  a little confused by the  movements of the “network” aka Sal's other victims “ Trevor Loman, Hannah Sawatzky, Cora Moorhead, Chelsea Fitzsimmons and  Rachel Nibogie. who danced  and moved in the background while hissing dialogue as a gGreek chorus and  Sal and Brea’s inner conscience and darkest thoughts.

 O’Brien talked for a good half hour after the performance, offering suggestions and criticisms about each script.
“The Zoo Story” goes to the finals in High River, May 3 and 4.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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