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New West Theatre brings good tidings with Tinsel

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Not that New West Theatre is ever otherwise, but the local theatre company’s new December show, “ Tinsel” is all about love.

New West Theatre is excited to put a little love in your heart with “Tinsel” Dec. 12-31. Photo by Richard Amery
“Almost every song we’re doing has love in the title,” observed New West Theatre general manager Derek Stevenson.

The show, which runs at the Yates Theatre from Dec.12-31, features some of the best of the best songs and comedy from over the years.

 It features a talented cast of experienced veterans like the core of Scott Carpenter, Erica Hunt, Kathy Zaborsky, and Kyle Gruninger plus Shelby Wilson and AJ Baragar who made their New West debuts in the July production of “Jukebox” as well as newcomer Ryland Kunkel.

Kunkel is a familiar face for patrons of the great Canadian Barn Dance.
“I’m used to playing music with my family, but I’ve never had to do muscle memory for dancing and singing and doing them both, but it’s been fun,” Kunkel said, adding he is excited to expand his musical horizons with New West.

“But I am doing a Glen Campbell  tribute and I’m playing piano with Kathy (Zaborsky). They’re bringing the grand piano out for us,” Kunkel said.
“I usually play folk, bluegrass or country music


Christmas with the classics as Dickens Meets Shakespeare

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Celebrate the Christmas season with Dickens Meets Shakespeare, Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at Casa.(L-R); Heather Ladd, Jeff Graham and Kristine Alexander are getting into the Christmas spirit with Shakespeare Meets Dickens, Dec. 16 at Casa. photo by Richard Amery
 The show features a strong cast of performers, performing Charles Dickens’ “ A Christmas Carol,” followed by songs, sonnets and Shakespeare.
“The evening will begin with a performance of Charles Dickens ‘ A Christmas Carol’ and Christmas carols from the Victorian period,” said Shakespeare In The park co-ordinator Kate Connolly.
“It will be followed by all things Shakespeare including scenes, songs and sonnets,” she added.

A Christmas Carol will be performed by a lot of familiar faces from Shakespeare in the park including Andrew Legg and Dj Gellatly, who have directed Shakespeare in the Park productions and Derek Stevenson who has performed with the local Shakespeare troupe.

 It will also feature veterans from community theatre like Shelley David and Jeff Graham and some familiar faces from the University of Lethbridge’s drama productions.
“We have a lot of directors, actors and board members from community theatre performing,” Connolly said.

“ A Christmas Carol” is widely regarded as a Christmas classic, but it is more than that.
“Dickens wrote the stories in the 1840s. It was a time known as the Hungry ’40s because of an economic slump and the rising food prices which lead to a huge rise in poverty especially in London,” Connolly said.
“Dickens wrote  ‘A Christmas Carol’ to draw attention to the plight of the urban poor. There’s Scrooge, the grasping miser who learns to true meaning of Christmas through the intervention of three ghosts of Past, Present and Future. It also includes Bob Cratchett and his family including Tiny Tim, a young crippled boy who has this amazing love for all humanity,” she continued.
Megan Wittig, the music director of the musical portion of the evening will be singing and is coaching several performers including Matt Cameron, Chris Peterson, Brenton Taylor and Erica Barr.
Jeneva Moxon, who was stage manager for this summer’s production of Romeo and Juliet will be directing Shakespeare Meets Dickens.


Auditions for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s A Doll's house this week

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Juanita DeVos is excited to direct Playgoers of Lethbridge’s Feb. 8-11 production of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.”
 She already has most of her backstage crew in place, the next step is auditions, which take place, Dec. 9 and 10 at Casa.
 If  you are interested in trying out for the play, book an audition time for Dec. 9 and 10 by going to
DeVos will get back to you, if those times don’t work she will do her best to accommodate your schedule.

“The people who have booked times will be able to audition at that time and we’ll fit in people who drop in around those times,” DeVos said, noting she is excited to work with Playgoers veteran Eric Low.

“ I worked with him  for Noises Off and wanted to work with him again,” she said, noting Low was originally planning to direct “A Doll’s House,” but had to back out  due to health issues.

“But he already did a lot of research in to the characters and the production, so he will be our dramaturge,” DeVos enthused.

 The play requires a cast of four men and four women plus two children — a boy and a girl.

Playgoers is using a 1936 Thornton Wilder acting version of the play, which is about “Nora, the wife of a banker, Thorwald, has a secret debt, incurred with good intentions and a forged signature. When her husband is promoted to bank manager, the threat of blackmail threatens to destroy his career and their family life together. As circumstances unravel, Nora realizes the truth of her situation: she accuses her husband and her father before him of having used her as a doll. In one of the most famous scenes ever written for the stage, Nora slams the door on her domestic life as wife and mother until she can learn to be herself. The marriage of Ibsen's naturalistic style with Wilder's knack for emotional nuance creates a modern, vigorous acting version of this revered classic drama.” The original  play premiered in 1879.


Hatrix goes Holmes for the Holidays with murder mystery -comedy The Game’s Afoot

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Hatrix Theatre is planning on having a bloody good time for Christmas as they bring Ken Ludwig’s 2012 comedy thriller “The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for The Holidays” to the Nord Bridge Senior‘s Centre, Nov. 30-Dec. 3.Kelly Frewin and Vittorio Oliverio rehearse The Game’s Afoot , which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the Nord Bridge Senior’s Centre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a murder mystery staged around the life of William Gillette who actually wrote a play about Sherlock Holmes which ran for 20 years,” said director Karolyn Harker.

Gillette invites his friends in the cast to his mansion for Christmas Eve in 1936, where a storm’s a brewing as a 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.

“They get together for an evening and they face murder,” Harker said.

“Ken Ludwig, who also wrote Lend Me A Tenor, was a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and plays like  “The Mousetrap,” “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Deathtrap,” so there are references to all of those,” she continued. There are also Shakespeare references, a seance, a great 1930s soundtrack and a lot of laughter and hilarious characters. The play opens with a scene between Sherlock Holmes and his arch-nemesis Moriarty.

“Gillette is a character who wrote a play based on Sherlock Holmes, which brought him success greater than his wildest dreams and it’s allowed him to become quite well off, though he did lose his wife 10 years ago, said Kelly Frewin, who plays William Gillette.
“All of his friends are his fellow actors,” he continued.

While Gillette was a real person, Frewin didn’t do a lot of research into the “real” William Gillette.
“I didn’t do a lot of research, I wanted my character to be informed by the script and the other actors. So I didn’t want to go into it with a lot of pre-conceived ideas about him,” he said.

“He is confident to the point of arrogance, but he’s not an arrogant character,” he described.

Frewin is glad to be back on stage with Hatrix Theatre. He has had a busy Fall on stage, being part of Jesus Christ Superstar, but is excited to be back for his third Hatrix production.
“I was in the Gazebo as the Inspector and in Jitters as the leading man, Phillip. I’m just glad to be back on stage, other than in Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s been four years, so it’s just nice to be back on stage again,” he said.
 He hopes the audience will leave the play laughing.
“There are a lot of laughs. So I want them to laugh as well as think. There are lots of laughs, so I hope they have a good time,” Frewin said adding he is enjoying working with the cast.

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