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Shnoogy helps kids cope with feelings in Kindling Kindness

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 The world could use a cup of kindness yet, so Lethbridge based artist and writer Constance Douglas created “Kindling Kindness,” a program designed to help kids recognize their feelings and choose “love over fear” courtesy of the characters “Shnoogy” and “Krudy.”Constance Douglas with Shnoogy and Krudy of Kindling Kindness. Photo by Richard Amery
“ It‘s about making the world a better place one act of kindness at a time,” said Douglas, noting the characters’ origins go back several years.

“In 2006 I was in a children’s hospital in Phoenix and saw all of these sick kids. I wondered how I could represent love, so they could see it and demonstrate it, so I created Shnoogy,” Douglas said, noting Kindling Kindness is targeted at children aged 4-8.

“Then I created Krudy, who is just grumpy, lonely and not happy,” Douglas continued.

“They (people) have both those feelings but have to choose which one will be part of their experience,” she continued.

“Then, I became ill with MS and lost the ability to paint and I began to feel helpless like those kids. I had all of these blank canvasses and when I could paint again, it became my only purpose to help these kids,“ Douglas said, noting her paintings became the basis for Kindling Kindness, an adventure book “The Doodle Trap,”  a workbook starring Shnoogy and his friends plus Krudy which can be found on Amazon. She also brings Shnoogy in to schools, has designed and created individualized capes for the characters and created stuffed animals of them.  She even wrote a Shnoogy rap to go along with the story, featuring local performer Juran Greene.

“He was kind enough to record it and I’m working on an audio book with (New West Theatre veteran) Erica Hunt.”

She was born in Lethbridge and moved to the United States, living in Arizona and California and moved back to Lethbridge in 2015 to help care for a good friend who was diagnosed with cancer.
She even named her dog “Shnoogy.”

“I was wondering what to call this character and my last  dog always wanted hugs. I was always telling him ‘Are you looking for your shnoogies? ’ and it turned out to be the perfect name for the character,” she said.


Playgoers of Lethbridge holding auditions for Savannah Sipping Socity

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Playgoers of Lethbridge is holding auditions this week for their October dinner Theatre of The Savannah Sipping Society, which will take place Oct. 17-21 at the Country Kitchen beneath the Keg.

 Director Lee Prindle, who directed previous productions of the Dixie Swim Club and Always a Bridesmaid, which were also  written by  Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, is looking within the group for four female actors aged 40 to 70. But open auditions are  7-9 p.m. in the Casa community room, July 11 and July 12.

This is brand new. It was written in 2016,” Prindle said.


New West Theatre is all about “Home Grown” Canadian talent

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New West Theatre is not only celebrating “home grown” Canadian music but also local music in their new summer production, aptly titled Home Grown, running July 5-22 in the Yates Theatre.

Erica Hunt, AJ Baragar, Scott Carpenter, Rylan Kunkel, Kathy Zaborsky, Kyle Gruninger and Shel0by Wilson of New West Theatre are excited to present Home Grown at the Yates Theatre, July 5-22 at 7:30 p.m. each night. Photo by Richard Amery
 In addition to familiar cast members including Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky and relative newcomers including Shelby Wilson, Aj Baragar and Rylan Kunkel, New West also welcomes special guests for every week of the run, with John Wort Hannam performing during the first week, Jason Poulsen, who has been a regular cast member in the second week and local country singer Trevor Panczak performing during the last week of the run.
The guests will join the cast to sing a few numbers as well as performing their original music.

“Canada has such a rich musical history, so this show is  about celebrating that and  local talent. Because they are the future. People like John Wort Hannam, Jason Poulsen and Trevor Panczak will be like the next Gordon Lightfoot,” said director Sharon Peat.

“I think we have some really excellent talent here.  So we’re celebrating the past, but it’s also important to look at the future and celebrating it,” Peat said.

“ At one point we had a song list of 180 songs which we had to trim down to a set of 16. Usually Paul Walker is responsible for songs but this time, we formed a little committee including Kathy Zaborsky and (New West guitarist) Scott Mezei,” Peat said, adding some people will ask why certain songs have not been included.
“In some cases, it will be because we just did a song by that particular artist,” she said.


Shakespeare in the Park expects double the fun with twin fueled Comedy of Errors

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Shakespeare in the Park are having fun playing with the comedy “A Comedy of Errors,” which opens at Galt Gardens, at 7 p.m., June 29 and runs most Thursdays and Friday nights until Aug. 11.Antipholus of Syracuse (Austin Halarewich) and Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) strike a gunfighter pose for A Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Amery

Director Ron Chambers is excited to trot on stage a western version of Shakespeare’s comedy, with plenty of slapstick  comedy, misunderstandings and hopefully few errors.

“ I think it‘s going pretty well. It’s two weeks before we open. It looks pretty solid. We‘re ironing out  some details and the guys are busy youtubing Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges,” said Chambers, who is excited to not only work with a diverse cast including university students, recent graduates, community members and a handful of high school students, but is excited to work outside in Galt Gardens.

“I did a play outside several years ago, so getting to work outside again was one of the reasons I wanted to do this play,” he said.

 Chambers and Shakespeare in the Park producer Kate Connolly not only shortened to play to a tight  production just over an hour long, but turned it into a western and tweaked some of the characters turning the Abbess into “Crazy Kate,”the Courtesan into Miss Kitty,  the Duke into the Sheriff and Dr. Pinch, the doctor, into a firebrand preacher. They also turned Ephesus into Heifersus— a rural river cowboy town.

“I did a lot of research into the nineteenth century and incorporated a few phrases. Kate shortened the play and took out a lot of the thees and thous to make it more accessible. It‘s a lot of fun,” Chambers said.

“If you are a Shakespeare scholar or researcher you will probably come away from it disappointed. But if you come to it wanting to have fun, you will have a blast,” he said.

“ I always feel a little guilty about changing Shakespeare, but I don’t think he would have minded. He loved language. he wrote plays to please audiences and to make money, which is what we’re trying to do,” he said, noting Shakespeare was inspired to write A Comedy of Errors by  The Menaechmi written by ancient Roman dramatist Plautus.

“He (Shakespeare)  added an extra pair of twins,” he continued.

“ The play is about two sets of twins who get separated at birth in a shipwreck. (Each twin has a servant twin). One set  of twins come to a strange town and nobody knows who they are so they are mistaken for each other, which creates a lot of  comedy and a lot of errors,” Chambers said.

“It is an hour and 10 minutes. So it is short and sweet and funny. You’ll even have time to go shopping afterwards,” Chambers chuckled.

Cole Fetting has been in quite a few plays over the past year including a  couple in the One Act Play Festival, the LMT fundraiser Jesus Christ Superstar, Undertow Theatre’s “Proud” and last years Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet.


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