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New West Theatre remembers new and old favourites in Starlight

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New West Theatre is on the road— to the west side at Chinook high School as they visit some of their greatest hits while adding a few new numbers courtesy of a multi-talented cast with their revue show Starlight, which runs until Jan. 6.Ashley Thomson and Kyle Gruninger performing in New West’s production of Starlight. Photo by Richard Amery
 The talented cast embraced a strange and new space and made full use of a multi level stage set up featuring numerous stars and outcroppings. Throughout, they dashed all over the set for various comedy bits as well as dance choreography.


The show starts strong with a group number “Heart of Rock and Roll.”  featuring cast member Rylan Kunkel playing a hot saxophone solo what would do Huey Lewis and the News proud. An up tempo treat was getting to hear AJ Baragar play his original band “Cool It,” backed by the cast and New west Theatre’s crack band.


 Rylan Kunkel got to take centre stage with his ukulele to perform “Love Like you,” from Rebecca Sugar’s cartoon “Steven Universe.”


 Newcomer Ashley Thomson (Though she performed years ago with new West)did her best Grace Slick impersonation  for a powerful version of “ White Rabbit,” as the cast strutted/ marched behind her.


 Because  the show is named Starlight,” there were  special guest performers. Kathy Zaborsky , dressed in leather pants and a big, black Joan Jett wig belted out “ I Love Rock and Roll” and because long time cast member Scott Carpenter directed this production, there was plenty of goofy humour.
 They brought back one of my favourite  comedy bits in where Scott Carpenter and A.
Ashley Thomson mix up the instructional CDs for  yoga and  for building a chair, which gave Carpenter a chance to shine, showing his expressive visage as he did yoga to the wrong instructions.

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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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