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Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival to wind up first week with Musical Theatre Showcase

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The first week of the 81st annual Kiwanis Speech and Arts Festival winds up Saturday with the fourth Annual Musical Adjudicator Ron Long gives Jordyn Appleby some suggestions, April 6. Photo by Richard AmeryTheatre Showcase at the Yates Centre.

“It’s gone very well,” said Executive Director Carole Roberts, who is calling it quits after six years at the helm of the long running local festival, which features close to 5,000 young performers including members of bands and choirs.

“We’re always looking for ways to bring people in,” said Roberts, adding the Musical Theatre Showcase is a recent addition to the festival designed to highlight the plethora of fantastic musical theatre entrants.

“We’ve seen a handful of people  who aren’t related to anybody performing, just coming just for pure enjoyment,” she added, noting everybody is welcome to come and listen to Lethbridge’s up and coming talent performing at the festival.


Pretty, Witty and Gay allows gay community to come out and shine

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Lethbridge‘s gay and lesbian community will be coming out to entertain you, April 1 at the David Spinks Theatre for the eight annual Pretty, Witty and Gay cabaret.
“It’s a gay themed theatre cabaret that celebrates sexual diversity,” described organizer  Jay Whitehead.

“And gender identity,” added co-organizer Génevievé Paré, who is excited about being involved with her second Pretty, Witty and Gay, which she has had to juggle with  performing  the role of the Duke of Buckingham in the university’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Génevievé Paré and Jay Whitehead are looking forward to Pretty , Witty and Gay, April 2 at the David Spinks Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
“We have over 10-15 different acts of a wide scope from theatrical, comedy, musical and dramatic acts,”  she continued.

“This year we will also be having confessionals or testimonials. Members of the community have the opportunity to share their stories about coming about them and their families,” Whitehead added, noting  Lethbridge has a significant gay population.

“It’s hard to say. When I moved to Lethbridge and started this in 2004, they didn’t have much of a voice at all but they are starting to be heard. Lethbridge has an annual pride  event now and the university has a  very active gay and lesbian club. I’d say relative to our population it’s comparable to most cities,” Whitehead observed.

“The community is starting to see that we’re a contributing part of the community,” he added.


Richard III provides gripping bloodshed and drama

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While reading Shakespeare can be a challenge, seeing it performed on stage is a pleasure. Stephen Iremonger in Richard III. photo by Richard Amery

Whether it is performed successfully or not— a lot of that depends on the cast. It is a daunting play and it’s a tragedy so pretty much everybody dies in it. It is also tough to follow the intrigue and the devious scheming.
Luckily the 30 some cast members  of The University of Lethbridge’s production make their production of  the dark, deadly and devious tragedy of Richard III, really shine.

Stephen Iremonger is scary as the sociopathic Richard III , murdering and scheming his way to the throne, but managed to evoke a few laughs from the attentive crowd during the play’s opening, March 22 at  University Theatre.
He is no less matched by Génevievé Paré as  the Duke of Buckingham, who helps him scheme his way to the top.

Paré, who  did a great job with New West’s charming production of Munsch back in December, proves herself equally adept at drama as she is at children’s theatre.
The whole cast shines, be it Queen Margaret (Gail Hanrahan)’s crazy ranting and invoking curses or the  humour and conscience of Richard III’s two murderers, played with relish by Kelly Roberts and  Lindie Last.

Particularly New West Theatre veteran Roberts, who  has a crisis of conscience about murdering  Duke of Clarence (Mark Spracklin) I wanted to see more of their interplay, but alas, it was not to be. The same goes for  Spracklin, whose performance of Clarence was immediately touching. I missed him when he was gone.


Burgeoning local film scene show off works at U of L film festival

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Lethbridge may not be a film making mecca yet, but there are a lot of people who make their own professional movies.
 With the University of Lethbridge Film Festival coming up, March 31, there will be an excellent opportunity to see some of our budding film makers’ works.
 Aaron Kurmey and Rambunxious Entertainment are just one of them.Aaron Kurmey and Rambunxious Skeeter Productions.

 They have been focussing on getting their action film Hoodoo VooDoo in the public eye by submitting it to numerous film festivals.
 But while he was coping with mailboxes full of rejection letters from festivals  about “Hoodoo Voodoo,”  Kurmey got a call out of the blue “from a weird phone number in Los Angeles,” giving him the opportunity to  be interviewed for an NBC Los Angeles TV show “Action On Film,” based around the Action On Film Festival, for which he had submitted the group’s short film “High School Brawl.”

“ I was taking a nap and the phone rang, and they said they wanted to interview me. So they flew me out to Los Angeles and put me up for the night. They asked me a lot of standard questions like who were you influenced by and where did the concept come from,” he enthused adding he‘d been focussed so much on promoting “Hoodoo Voodoo,” that he’d forgotten about “High School Brawl,” which is a five some minute long  fight scene, without any dialogue,  between a man and  a group of school uniform clad high school toughs, who end up getting beaten down by the man, who turns out to be their martial arts trained teacher. Most of the cast of that film are also in “Hoodoo Voodoo.”

“They wanted to feature 40 of the best films from the festival. And we were up against submissions from some really big film schools, UBC, NYU, The American Film Institute,” he said.

“They saw it and said it was one of their favourite films, which is crazy, because I don‘t like it too much,” he said adding the show will be on Saturday nights following Saturday Night Live beginning March 12, though his segment won’t be until near  the end of the season, on May 14.

 He said they didn’t say why they liked it so much. Maybe because of the quirky concept or the 40 minutes of bonus features for the five minute film. High School Brawl won at the University of Lethbridge Film Festival last year.
Just after an interview about  the local film making scene,  centering on the difficulty of getting into film festivals, Kurmey received an  e-mail saying  not only did they get  accepted into  the Canada International Film Festival in Vancouver, but that it received an award of excellence for it  as well. They will be going to Vancouver to receive their award, April 3.

Hoodoo Voodoo is a full length action comedy, which Kurmey compared to the Evil Dead movie.

“ I was pretty surprised since we haven't been having much luck with festivals. We were chosen as one of 28 films to play out of hundreds of entrants from 30 different countries,” Kurmey said adding  he doesn’t think they get anything other than prestige if they win.
They are influenced by old martial arts films, samurai movies and modern Korean films like “City of Violence” and “Oldboy.”

Gianna Magliocco, or by her director’s name , Gianna Isabella, has entered her second film  “Dilemma,” in this year’s festival. She learned a lot from making  her short film.
“I learned a lot while filming ‘Dilemma.‘ I learned about budgeting. To set some money aside for marketing the film  as well as just the production and post production,”  Isabella said adding a couple successful fund raising events as well as her generous brother helped.
“There are a lot of  good, talented people making films here,” observed Isabella, a recent graduate of the University of Lethbridge’s new media program,  adding the local film makers are very close knit.

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