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Theatre Xtra examines variety of themes in Song of the Say Sayer

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Geneviève Paré just finished performing in  New West Theatre’s production of Marooned with Munsch, but with barely a breath to spare, leaped in to the director’s chair for Theatre Xtra’s latest production of Daniel Danis’ “Song of The Say Sayer,” which runs at the David Spinks Theatre, Jan. 20-22.

“I love it. I like collaborating with the actors and crew and watching it come alive. This is the largest production I’ve done on my own,” Paré saiStephen Iremonger, Robyn Jabusch and Ali Deregt. Photo by Richard Ameryd, who has done a lot of acting in the past year including appearing in Festen as well as being assistant director for last year’s epic production of Hair.

 She is looking forward to seeing the production develop.
 “The biggest challenge has been interpreting the script. There are a lot of themes. If you misinterpret the script, you might not get them, ” she said of the Linda Gaboriau translation they are working from.

“It’s not like Shakespeare where the language is so complex. There’s just a lot of themes in this one,” she continued.

“It’s about three brothers and their sister whose parents are killed by a lightning both when they are children. And the whole community  wants to put them in a foster care home, but they insist on raising themselves, but their sister is severely altered,” Paré continued adding the siter  ends up having a blood clot.


Toopy and Binoo come to life on stage in Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon

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Popular children’s cartoon Toopy and Binoo comes to life for two shows, Jan. 19 at the Yates Theatre, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Exploring the adventures of chatty giant mouse Toopy and his stuffed cat companion Binoo, who comes alive in his imagination, the cartoon becomes a big stage 90-minute production presented by Koba Entertainment called Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon.Toopy and Binoo and Frank Meschkuleit. Photo by Koba Entertainment
“Well you’re half right,” said Frank Meschkuleit of upcoming visit to Lethbridge for the show. Meschkuleit, who does Toopy’s voice in the popular cartoon, pre-recorded the voice of the hyperactive, naïve and clueless giant mouse Toopy, who along with pint sized cat sidekick Binoo, have provided lots of laughs for both children and adults since 2005.

“I gave it my best swing at the bat. You do what you’re asked to do. Koba  had a great concept,” he said adding  the production which has between six to eight cast members.
“I’m hoping to get a free ticket to it when it comes to Toronto at some point, but I hear it is going very well,” he laughed, slipping into Toopy’s hilarious helium sounding high voice, speaking  of the production, which is touring all over Canada this winter.

“Toopy and Binoo are two dimensional characters, so it was a challenge for them to make them into three dimensional stage characters,” he continued.
“It was also a challenge for me, because Toopy is always going at 110 per cent on a constant high,” he said adding it took five weeks to record the vocals for the production. He finished the vocals for the cartoon series two years ago.


Marooned with Munsch is a bunch of fun

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Geneviève Paré  and Cari Russell rehearse Munsch. Photo by Richard AmeryIf you want to warm up a chilly winter day, or if the kids are complaining that there is nothing to do, get Marooned With Munsch.

The New West Theatre for young audiences presentation of the popular children’s stories is a fun, high energy and funny hour-long show that follows four children separated from their parents on a tropical island, with only a box full of props, four Munsch books  and their imaginations to keep them from worrying about being rescued.

The four actors, Cari Russell, Willie Banfield, Geneviève Paré and New West general manager Jeremy Mason, laugh, joke, mug for the ‘imaginary’ audience and flip and roll all over the stage and hang from tree branches, as the children act out the Munsch books and get the audience involved with the show.

Many of the children sat on the floor right next to the stage.

In fact Mason, Banfield and Russell tap into their elder child  while Paré does a great job of portraying a child trying to be an adult.
Tommy’s (played by Mason)  ‘silly ideas’ are hilarious and imaginative,  including a good one about building a time machine out of sand and using it to go back in time and remembering bring food and water for the stranded  children. By the end of the show, the ‘silly ideas’ underly  the “don’t make fun ” theme that runs throughout  the stories.


Jeremy Mason returns to the stage with Marooned with Munsch

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Marooned with Munsch provides a welcome return to the stage for New West Theatre General Manager Jeremy Mason.Willy Banfield, Cari Russell and Jeremy Mason rehearse a scene from ‘Stephanie’s Ponytail. Photo by Richard Amery
New West Theatre’s popular Christmas season production of author Robert Munsch’s  popular children’s stories kicks off on Boxing Day and runs until Jan. 8.

“Theatre for Young Audiences is  one of my passions. And it made sense to do this one because Glitz and Munsch have staggered openings, so there was more time to do this,” said Mason who was last on stage with  a TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) show in 2008. They have been rehearsing since Dec. 12.

“I definitely love being on stage,” Mason continued, adding he and artistic director Nicholas Hanson wrote this story about a group of children who get separated from their parents and  become marooned on an island.

“They  are trying to find things to make an SOS with and find a treasure chest with five Robert Munsch books and some costume pieces,”  described director Andy Jenkins, who is enjoying directing his third Munsch production with New West.

“They imagine the audience for their show,” he continued.
“We wanted to choose some of the more popular Munsch stories and ones we haven’t done before,” Mason said adding the stories include ‘I Have To Go,’ about a little boy who has to pee; ‘Show and Tell,’ about a boy who brings his baby sister to school for show and tell; and  Stephanie’s Ponytail, about a girl who keeps changing her hairstyle, and is alternately mocked, then copied, though she gets the last laugh in the end.

“It’s great to run around and be a kid again while being surrounded by a group of professional actors,” Mason continued.
That is a sentiment shared by New West newcomer Cari Russell.

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