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Fran Rude to retire with one last LSCO Fundraiser: The Secret Garden

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Lethbridge theatre mainstay Fran Rude, who won the Joan Waterfield Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the arts this year says farewell with her last production of  the musical The Secret Garden, Nov.10-12.


“We all have to retire some time,” said Rude recovering from a broken hip but is excited to collaborate again with Ken Rogers on the Tony award winning musical “The Secret Garden, to raise money for LSCO programming.


Fran Rude is excited about her last LSCO  fundraiser, The Secret Garden.Photo by Richard Amery

 It is a “heartwarming tale of hope, family and the transformative power of Nature” inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel. The LSCO fundraising show runs at the Yates Theatre 7:30 p.m.  Nov. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.


“It’s a lovely story and the music is beautiful,” Rude said.


“It’s about a girl whose family  dies in a cholera outbreak in India in 1910 so she goes to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, England. He lost his wife so he learns to love again,” summarized Ken Rogers, who is excited about  working with a handpicked cast of 35, though they auditioned for the two child roles,  plus a live orchestra of 18, mostly members of the Lethbridge Symphony orchestra, concentrating on strings.


“ The two children are outstanding and remarkable,” Rude enthused.

“There are 33 musical numbers in this show. The musical score is absolutely gorgeous. It’s very orchestral. They are sumptuous and the strings are stunning,” Rogers said, noting there are solos, duos, trios and quartets  sprinkled throughout the performance.


“The musicians come from all walks of life,” he said.

 “We handpicked the cast for people we knew could play the roles. We’ve been working in the local theatre community for so long, we knew who would be best for the roles,” he said

 Rogers is excited to collaborate with Rude one last time on a large scale fundraiser for the LSCO and decided to choose a show that would be a guaranteed hit, as  The LSCO  put their money on the line to produce the show.


“We didn’t want to choose a show that won’t sell  out,” he said, noting tickets are going fast. Closing night is almost sold out already.

Rude worked with Rogers on a smaller scale production of the musical in 1986.

“It’s staged quite differently,” Rude said, adding the musicians are on stage with the actors.


Playgoers of Lethbridge ends 100th Anniversary season with pantomime of The Snow Queen

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Playgoers of Lethbridge winds up an eventful 100th anniversary season  with their pantomime ‘The Snow Queen,’  based on a Hans Christian Andersen short story, Nov. 7-12 at the Sterndale 

Jessica Nguyễn rehearses for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s pantomime The Snow Queen. Photo by Richard Amery

Bennett Theatre.


Staged in the classic style of British Pantomime, this family friendly show is a re-telling of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen adapted by  Allan Frayne. 


“ It’s a musical that encourages audience participation, so they are encouraged to boo the Snow  Queen, who is the villain in the story,” said director Elaine Jagielski, who has always wanted to put on a pantomime.


“ There are stock characters, they are exaggerated,” Jagielski continued, reminiscing about enjoying seeing pantomimes when she was a child.


“It involves a couple of young individuals who encounter the  Snow Queen who is  the villain and she does something to one of the characters. It’s about how they try to rectify the wrong. But I don’t want to give away too much about the plot. It is a delightful story,” she said, adding the show has an underlying theme of global warming .


 “ The Snow Queen”  has a cast of 28  from age 6 to 66 including familiar faces from past Playgoers of Lethbridge productions and veterans of the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance society.


 Shelly David is doing double duty as she is also part of Lethbridge Musical  Theatre’s production of  ‘The Full Monty: The musical.’


Lethbridge Musical Theatre brings the Full Monty to the Yates Theatre

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Lethbridge  Musical Theatre are  giving audiences a full experience by doing something a lot different for their annual Fall musical, opening at the Yates Theatre, Oct. 26.

Anna McBryan and Dilon Crown are part of LMT’s production of the Full Monty. Photo by Richard Amery

 The musical, inspired by the 1997 British movie about six  unemployed steel mill workers who decide to strip to make ends meet, is something different for Lethbridge Musical Theatre, who usually put on more traditional mainstream musicals.

The plot of the musical closely follows the movie plot though it has been Americanized. It takes place in Buffalo , New York instead of Sheffield, England, and some of the more English references have been changed

“It’s been an interesting and rewarding experience,” said director Andrew Andreachuk who joined forces with music director Jillian Bracken and choreographer Jessica Ens who has performed with New West Theatre to bring the show to the stage.

 They recruited some of Lethbridge’s most familiar faces to perform and a hot live band.

“I got to talking about it with Jillian Bracken last year during  9 to 5 and we really wanted to do it. There is a lot of truth and intelligence in it,” Andreachuk said.

“It’s about real people in real life with real problems. They’re  relatable. People will care about the characters and enjoy the show. I’m confident people will enjoy them,” he said adding he hopes the Full Monty will help expand. LMT’s audience by doing something a little different.


“Our on stage talent and crew are exceptional,” he said.

“And the band adds such an amazing musical performance that brings everything together,” he said, adding keyboardist Bente Hansen is on stage.

“I haven’t worked with her for about 10 years, when we were in West Side Story. She was in the band then. She is on stage this time in a role that is just for her,” he said.

The multiple Tony award nominated musical has plenty of “Tonys” in the show, with a different Tony each night.


“There were some people we really wanted in the show but couldn’t get in the show , so  we have special guests every night. It’s a special event every night ,” he said, adding special guests include  Jeff Carlson, Kelly Rhea and the Owl Acoustic lounge co owner Steve Foord, who is also offering food and drink specials related to the show.

The show includes a cast of 20, a six member band and lots of back stage help.


“You’ll see some really familiar faces like Ashley Thomson, David Barrus, Mark Campbell and Anna McBryan,” he said. There are several actors from Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of “The Play That Goes Wrong,” including Ashley Thomson, Shelly David, Dan Pottage and Theatre Outré/ Playgoers of Lethbridge/ Impromptu veteran David Gabert.


“We have a wealth of experience. There are a lot of regular  LMT performers. and it’s only the third show our lead Dan Pottage has done. He was in  (Playgoers of Lethbridge) ‘ The Play That Goes Wrong,’ and  ‘9 to 5. ”

Dan Pottage is excited about his first lead role.


“Playing a lead role was always the goal. Jillian and I got talking during. 9 to 5 about it so when the opportunity arose,  I jumped at it,” said Pottage, who plays Jerry Lukowski, who get talking about performing their own Chippendales type show while accompanying their wives to a Chippendale’s show.

“The other steel mill workers have been laid off. So they decide to form a male strip show. Jerry needs to  make some money in order to get his kid back. He also has to deal with his ex-wife,” he said, thanking his own wife for being so patient with him during a consecutive series of long rehearsal periods for the three shows he has been in.


 In addition to remembering all of his lines, singing was a challenge.

“I’m traditionally a baritone and my part is a tenor, so it has been a challenge developing my vocal range. It’s a not a sad show, so singing it in falsetto would be a terrible choice. But we only had to transform one of the songs to a baritone,” he said, adding he wasn't familiar with the musical of  the Full Monty before getting involved, though he  was familiar with the movies.


The Game’s Afoot with Playgoers of Lethbridge for Fall dinner theatre

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If you like Sherlock Holmes and if you like screwball comedy, then get a clue and a get your tickets then get ready to laugh  because The Games Afoot— again.

 Hatrix Theatre put on a production of the Ken Ludwig’s 2012 comedy in 2016.


 Playgoers of Lethbridge is  taking  it on Oct. 17-21 underneath the Keg for their annual Fall dinner theatre.


“ The Games Afoot, or Holmes for the holidays is based on a real character, William Gillette who wrote a play about Sherlock Holmes with Arthur Conan Doyle’s blessing.

After Gillette is shot  during a run of his long running play about Sherlock Holmes, he invites his friends in the cast to his mansion for Christmas Eve in 1936 to try and find out the identity of the killer. A storm is brewing literally and figuratively as,  poison pen theatre critic named Daria Chase pays them a visit, which leads to complications and hilarity as they hold a seance to find out who attempted to murder Gillette as well as the doorman at the theatre where they were performing in.

Jocelyn Steinborn,Cole Fetting, Lori Garner, John Poulsen and Jaclyn Elfring show off their costumes for the Game’s Afoot. Photo submitted


 Director Rita Peterson didn’t know Hatrix recently did the play. She didn’t know a lot about it before taking it on other than knowing it was penned by Ken Ludwig.


“I didn’t realize Hatrix had done it, but I read the play and it is so funny,” said  Peterson, who has been part of other Ken Ludwig plays and knows how funny they are.

“ I’ve directed  “Leading Ladies,” said Peterson who has always been a fan of the playwright, so she knew it was going to be funny.

“It’s really different than his other plays,” Peterson said, praising her cast.


“ There’s a lot of great characters in this play. We have a great cast and crew. They  work together so well and they really listen to direction and have great suggestions. And we have great costumes,” Peterson said.


The experienced cast includes a lot of familiar faces including University of Lethbridge professor  and  Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society veteran John Poulsen playing Gillette; Taber Players, Hatrix Theatre   and playgoers veteran Jocelyn Steinborn as  Martha Gillette, Lori Garner as Madge Geisel, Patrick Roach as her husband and Gilette’s best friend Felix, Playgoers of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society and University of Lethbridge graduate Cole Fetting, Chinook High School drama teacher and Hatrix Theatre veteran Maren Coates who was big sister Catherine in Hatrix Theatre’s Spring production of the Foreigner as Aggie, LMT and Playgoers of Lethbridge veteran Monica Baczuk as Inspector Goring and Taber Players veteran Jaclyn Elfring as poison pen gossip columnist Daria Chase.


 Retired University of Lethbridge professor Teresa Heyburn is handling costumes  for the show.

John Poulsen is excited to be play

John Poulsen and Patrick Roach rehearse the Game’s Afoot. Photo by Richard Amery

 Gillette  the show though he too wasn’t that familiar with the play.


“ Rita needed  someone to play Gillette and asked me. There‘s 565 lines I have to remember. I counted them. As soon as I read the script I said yes, ” Poulsen laughed.


“ It moves so fast. In a comedy it needs to move fast,” he said praising his cast-mates.


“It’s such a solid group. It feels so natural to work with them. It’s tightly written play. Gillette is such a funny comedic role that is lots of fun to play,” Poulsen continued.

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