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U of L relives youth with The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook

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When Star Wars exploded onto the silver screen in 1977, it became not only part of many a young boy’s collective consciousness, but it became a part of pop culture at large and continues to this day.

 The University of Lethbridge’s Feb. 14-18 production of Stephen Massicotte’s 1997 play “ The Boy’s own Jedi Handbook,” explores the effect Star Wars had on two boys’ imaginations and their futures.The Kid, Colin Bluekens uses the force to dodge an object tossed by James (Daniel Perryman) during rehearsals for A Boy’s own Jedi Handbook, running in the David Spinks theatre, Feb. 14-18. Photo by Richard Amery

“ Essentially it follows the life of a character called the Kid and looks at how his childhood was affected by the first two Star Wars movies. So he recreates parts of the Star Wars films and how they relate to his life as a grown up,” said director Jeremy Mason, adding the two boys, played by Colin Bluekens as the Kid and Daniel Perryman as James,  try to become Jedi Knights.

“ It’s a feel good, coming of age play that people who grew up in the late ’70s and ’80s  will come away feeling very good about,” Mason continued.

They play opened Feb. 14 for close to a sold out audience.

In addition to an impressive performances  from “The Kid” Colin Bluekens, who is on stage the entire show and impressively delivers 120 minutes of text and his best friend “James,” Daniel J Perryman, who ably shows the duo’s growing bond over Star Wars, numerous other supplementary characters are played by  the always impressive Shelby Wilson and Kathryn Bullock. Much of the play shows how The Kid and James bond by reenacting various scenes from the first two Star Wars movies , bounding all over the stage with childlike enthusiasm.

 The ladies play a variety of classmates, siblings, mothers and teachers in the first part, but come into their own as the would be girlfriends of the oblivious and proud young dorks in the second act,  in which the Kid and  James have grown into young teenagers, excited about the release of the Empire Strikes Back.

Wilson is especially as enjoyable  as The Kid’s teacher and director of the Kid’s first play, “ A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Her facial expressions hilarious as usual, even playing as simple a character as the exasperated mother, tolerating her children’s exuberant and endless raving about the first Star Wars movie, without muttering more than three words. She does a great turn as Darth Vader as seen through the Kid’s eyes, confiscating notes passed in class.

Bullock is simply adorable as the determined first girlfriend of the Kid.
“There is a lots of energy and lots of fun. It’s a feel good show,”  Mason said, adding you don’t have to have grown up in that era or even be a Star Wars expert in order to enjoy this show.

 There are plenty of Star Wars scenes and in jokes like “In the version we play, Hans shot first,” as well as a few nods to the future like who will Leia fall in love with— Han or Luke? Choosing the David Spinks Theatre is an excellent choice as it provides a more intimate experience, as if you are just hanging out with the Kid and James in their back yard, camping out with them being kids together and reliving Star Wars scene by scene. The set features numerous movable pieces, switched around by the cast to reflect different settings like home, the schoolyard ,classrooms, recess, a roller disco rink and their back yards. The stage is set in the second act to look eerily like the Millennium Falcon.

“It’s a main stage play and we were offered the University Theatre. But It was first developed as a play for Fringe Festivals so we thought it would be better for the audience if it were in the David Spinks Theatre,” observed Mason, who played the role of “The Kid” in a production of the play nine years ago. He is excited to return to Lethbridge to direct “A Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook,” in between splitting time between projects in Calgary and Edmonton.


Tom Green blending rap and comedy in Snow Jam Tour

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Comedian Tom Green distills the essence of a 30 year manic career including rap, prank comedy and stand up comedy into  “Tom Green’s Snow Jam Comedy and  Hip Hop Tour, which comes to Studio, Feb. 18.
“I’m super excited about this show,” said Green, who is excited to snowboard, as he has lined up several B.C. shows within easy reach of ski hills.Comedian Tom Green comes to Lethbridge this week. Photo by Neil Visel

“We have shows around Whistler and in the interior of B.C. and we‘re going to  do something special during them. We‘re going to give out  secret locations so you can come and snowboard with us,” said the Ottawa born Green, who has called Los Angeles home for the past 17 years.

“I like it a lot. It is a really creative city. I have a lot of great friends there. It is a great place for stand up comedy,” he said.

 Green , who began his entertainment a career in the early ’90s as a rapper, was  an immediate hit in the 1990s with his Tom Green Show on MTV and on the big screen in movies like “Road Trip” and “Freddie Got Fingered.” He also made an impression with appearances on The David Letterman Show and Saturday Night Live.  In recent years he has been spending a lot of time  on the road, touring comedy festivals from Melbourne to Montreal and all over the United States.

“I haven’t been to Lethbridge for a few years. Last time I was there was probably five years ago. Down by the railroad trestle there’s a lookout . I tried parachuting off of it. It didn’t work . I ended up rolling down the hill. If I tried that today, I probably wouldn’t bounce as well,” he recalled.
“It’s been exciting. I feel very fortunate. I developed a show for MTV, I’ve had films shown all over the world. So it really has been exciting,” he said.
“I was on the Saturday night Live 40th anniversary show. It was spectacular. I was surrounded by all of these legends like Paul McCartney, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy. It was a surreal experience,” he enthused, adding he has been blessed.

He was even supposed to marry her live on Saturday Night live to Drew Barrymore, but she didn’t show.

 “That was a bit. We decided to have some fun with it. We actually got married after that, then we got divorced, so thanks for bringing that up,” he said, adding he’d rather accentuate the positives of the past 30 years. 


Old Favourites 6 features Canadian hits for Nord Bridge

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Old favourites returns this week to lend the Nord Bridge Senior’s Centre and hand and a few songs a a lot of laughs and a whole lot of Canadian culture with their regular show at the Yates Centre Feb. 17 and 18.Scott Carpenter, Kelly Roberts, Arlene Bedster, Erica Hunt and Jeff Carlson are excited to being Old Favourites 6 to the Yates, Feb. 17 and 18. Photo by Richard Amery
 Old Favourites 6, features New West Theatre performers past and present, playing , well, old favourites for a good cause.

“ It’s the first sesquicentennial (celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday) show of the year, so there will be a lot of Canadian singers, songs and comedy,” observed performer Jeff Carlson, who will be joined by Arlene Bedster, Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Kelly Roberts, Andre Royer and Jordana Kohn on stage.

“It’s the first of many 150 year celebrations this year,” echoed Erica Hunt.
 Arlene Bester will be performing a pair of Joni Mitchell songs and a kd lang number. There will also be songs made famous by Roger Whittaker.

“ He’s not Canadian, but he loves Canada,” joked Carlson.
 There will also be familiar hits from bands like Doug and the Slugs, the Stampeders, Blue Rodeo, Toronto, Trooper, the Irish Descendants, David Francey and Stompin’ Tom Connors and much more.

“It’s hard to do songs from every Canadian band,” Hunt observed.

“We’ve got some new, fresh comedy and we‘re bringing back some classic songs from a decade ago, but you’re guaranteed to see a fresh new show,” she continued.
“ And Jeff Carlson does a cowbell solo,” Carpenter added.


U of L Opera workshop and Lethbridge Symphony having fun with Gilbert and Sullivan

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The University of Lethbridge Opera Society are  having fun with their annual collaboration with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra as they bring your favourite Gilbert and Sullivan songs to the Southminster United Church, Feb. 2 and 3.Hannah Nickel , Ben Jaquish and Max Hopkins rehearse a scene from the HMS Pinafore. Photo by Richard Amery

“These are three of the most enduring operas by Gilbert and Sullivan,” said U of L Opera Workshop director Dr. Blaine Hendsbee.

“We open with with Pirates of Penzance and a couple of familiar numbers from that,” he said.

“The second part of the show is The HMS Pinafore, though not the whole two-and-a-half hour opera but enough of it so you get the major plot points. Then it’s the Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan’s fictional Victorian portrayal of Japan — Titipu. It’s a political satire of British society and government under the guise of Japan, because all things Japanese was a huge fad at the time,” he continued.

“They weren’t considered ‘traditional opera,’” he continued, adding their operas remain popular almost 150 years later.

“Gilbert and Sullivan have been on the stage for over 100 years so their works have endured. And there is the social and political satire, which has a lot of relevance today. People got to laugh at themselves. It’s a lot of fun. And it is an extremely physical production there is a lot of movement and dancing,” he continued.

“It is also a bigger production than Gilbert and Sullivan productions usually are.”

It is a big production with 35 singers, many double cast for other parts, plus Museaus and a 30 piece orchestra.
The cast wear 80 different elaborate costumes created by Leslie Robison-Green.

 He noted the cast is 95 per cent university students plus a few community members. There are three leading ladies and there are a lot of double casted roles.
“There are also three parts for boys aged 11 and 112, so it has been a lot of fun working with them,” he said.

He is looking forward to the shows.

“ I hope people will  laugh. The cast is exceptional. There is a lot of joy. I hope people will leave with a lot of joy and feeling happy,” Hendsbee said.
Max Hopkins, who plays Capt. Corocan in the HMS Pinafore is excited to be part of his first U of L Opera workshop and Lethbridge Symphony collaboration.
“I’m just looking forward to being on stage with a  great cast acting and singing,” Hopkin said.
“And it is really fun to collaborate with the orchestra.”

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