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New West Theatre re-examines Hansel and Gretel

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 New West Theatre explores a world of imagination in their original twist on Hansel and Gretel, Dec. 26-Jan 6 at Casa. Camille Pavlenko rehearses for New West Theatre’s presentation of Hansel and Gretel at Casa, Dec. 26-Jan. 6. Photo By Richard Amery


“My story is based on a babysitter who is looking after a two little kids aged five and seven — a brother and sister. To keep them occupied, she gets them to act out the story of Hansel and Gretel, who are also a brother and sister,”  explained director Sharon Peat, who wrote her own version of the classic children’s tale for New West’s Theatre for this year‘s young people presentation.


It is an entertaining and energetic twist on a beloved children’s tale with plenty of energy and laughter and crows in the 50  minute show.


“They get separated in the forest. In the  original story, they use breadcrumbs to find their way home, but they use goldfish crackers in this story, except  the crows eat the goldfish crackers and they get separated and they encounter  adventures. It’s the quintessential children’s story,” Peat enthused.


Fans of New West Theatre’s December children’s shows will recognize a few familiar faces who  return to bring director/ writer Sharon Peat’s vision to life.


Kelly Malcolm, Ryan Reese and Camille Pavlenko have performed together in numerous shows for over the past half dozen years. They play numerous different characters.


“I get to play a variety of different characters including the babysitter, the witch, a crow and a big tree,” said Malcolm who always looks forward to returning to Lethbridge for the New West show.
“It’s always a blast to be part of New West shows. I get to come back and perform with these guys,” she said.

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Shakespeare meets Dickens get in the mood for Christmas

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The ATB community room was packed to the walls for Shakespeare in the park’s second annual Shakespeare meets Dickens’ fundraising show, Dec. 12.

Bryson Brown and Austin Halarewich read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Photo by Richard Amery
 I was only able to stShakespeare in the Park performers and board members read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Photo by Richard Ameryay for a couple Christmas Carols, and Richard Epp’s Reader’s Theatre adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “ A Christmas Carol.”


 It was well done, with a lot of familiar faces reading the Christmas Classic. They had several different narrators including artistic director Kate Connolly.
 There were also familiar faces from previous  Shakespeare in the park production including this summer’s ”A Comedy of Errors.” Cole Fetting stood out in numerous roles as did Austin Halarewich as did Jeff Graham’s Bob Crattchett.


Two different actors read the role of Scrooge including Bryson Brown, who read the first part of the story and John Poulsen took over mid way though the story.


Bell ringer Lucy Graham added sound effects and soundscape including the chiming of the clock as Scrooge waited for his ghosts to visit.

Stephanie Savage sings during Shakespeare meets Dickens, Dec.12. Photo by Richard Amery
A couple beautiful singers wound up the first half of the show as Chris Peterson, who starred in Romeo and Juliet last year,  sang a sultry version of “ Santa Baby” as she wove through the packed floor.
Stephanie Savage, who was stage manager for “A Comedy of Errors” displayed her gorgeous voice on “ All I Want For Christmas is You.”

— By Richard Amery, L.a. Beat Editor

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New West revisits their favourites from the sixties and seventies with Starlight

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New West Theatre revisits some of their favourite moments with their new show “Starlight,” which takes place at the Chinook High School Theatre, Dec. 19-Jan. 6.Kathy Zaborsky  rehearses a number from New West Theatrte’s production of Starlight. Photo by Richard Amery
 Scott Carpenter, who has been a member of New West Theatre for 25 years, is enjoying directing his first New West variety show.


“It’s been great. It’ s been interesting having to get off the stage and look at the show from an audience’s perspective and envisioning where I am on the stage,” Carpenter enthused.
“ But the best part was I got to go through New West Theatre’s archives and find my favourite music. So there’s a lot  ’60s and 70s music in the show. And because it’s me, there’s also a lot of goofy humour in the show,” he said, noting there will be a variety of music including the Doobie Brothers’ “Listen to the Music,” ABBA, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, Joan Jett, Jefferson Airplane and more.


 There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast including Erica Hunt, Kyle Gruninger, Kathy Zaborsky, AJ Baragar and Rylan Kunkel and newcomer Ashley Thomson.
“She did a New West show when she was 16. She’s an occupational therapist at the hospital and her  co-workers have been very generous  lending her to us,” said New West Theatre general manager Derek Stevenson.The New West cast rehearses a number from New West Theatrte’s production of Starlight. Photo by Richard Amery


“She also performed in Icelandia and in University of Lethbridge shows before taking a break,” Stevenson continued.


 New West also welcomes pianist  Zain Solinski, who steps into Bente Hansen’s shoes while she takes a well deserved break.


“ He’s one of Bente’s protégés,” Stevenson said adding they are thankful to Chinook High School for renting their theatre to New West for their show.
In addition to the best of New West, the show also includes some new material.


“ It’s a best of New West show ,” observed Baragar, noting the cast gets to sings a couple of their favourite new songs as well.
 He gets to sing one of his originals called ”Cool It.”

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LCI brings Anne of Green Gables to the stage

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LCI is coping with the loss of the Yates Centre due to renovations by utilizing their own drama room to stage their production of the musical Anne of Green Gables.

Ezra Sulin and Dylan Taylor rehearse Anne of Green Gables. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s been a challenge. But on the other hand you can build the set and not have to worry about tearing it down,” observed director Kelly Frewin, who has double the cast the production with 51 Grade 9-12 students, who have been rehearsing for the production since the beginning of the school year in September.


“ We also have a 20 piece orchestra which is also double cast and we have a 10-15 technical and backstage crew so there are about 80 kids involved,” Frewin noted.


 He said double casting has been helpful.


“ A lot of the kids have other things scheduled, so if one can‘t show up to rehearsal, another will be able to,” he observed.
He said Anne of Green Gables is a perfect show for this year.
“ It’s Canada 150 this year, and  Anne of Green Gables  is a perfect family friendly story that will appeal to a wide range of people who I hope will come and enjoy it,” Frewin said.

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