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Shakespeare in the Park takes the Tempest into space with squabbling sisters

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Shakespeare in the Park goes to space with their seventh annual production of The Tempest opening June 28 and running every Thursday and Friday until AChris Peterson and Madeline Smith play battling sisters in Shakespeare in the Park’s Production of the Tempest, opening, June 28 in Galt Gardens. Photo by Richard Ameryug. 1 except Street Wheelers weekend.
 “The Tempest is the most ‘Sci-Fi’ of Shakespeare’s plays. It takes place on a magical, mystical island,” described Shakespeare in the Park artistic director Kate Connolly, adding as a result it was relatively easy to reset the play as a spaceship crashing on an unknown planet instead of a shipwreck on an unknown island.

“It was written near the end of Shakespeare’s life when everybody was fascinated by journeys to the new world so he modeled it off that, particularly the West Indies and the island of Bermuda,” Connolly continued.

“This is Shakespeare meets Star Trek,” she described.
 Shakespeare in the Park veteran DJ Gellatly, who directed Shakespeare in the Park’s version of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ returns to direct the Tempest.
Shakespeare in the Park has cast traditionally male leads  Prospera and Antonia as females this year, coincidentally mirroring Stratford, Ontario, which is also presenting the Tempest featuring experienced Shakespearian actor Martha Henry playing Prospero in Stratford in London, Ontario this season.

“Instead of battling, brothers, we decided to have battling sisters. We cast Chris Kyle Peterson as Prospera and Madeline Smith as her sister Antonia. She plays an excellent villain,” Connolly said.
“They even look like sisters,” she continued.
“Lot of theatre companies are casting females in more familiar male roles. There have even been female Hamlets,” she said.
Director DJ Gellatly noted turning the leads into females was a no brainer.
“The pool of talented actresses in Lethbridge is really deep. And it’s been done before. There have been female Prosperos before including in the movie starring Hellen Mirren,” he said.

“And we turned Antonio into Antonia, so it’s really interesting because instead of having battling brothers, we have two sisters fighting,” he said.
“It’s something I think about,” said Madeline Smith, who plays Antonia, one role traditionally male role.
“It’s interesting, during Shakespeare‘s time men always played female role, now it has been reversed,” she continued, adding she is enjoying playing a villain.
“I’ve never played a character who is so cold and calculating. I don’t think people are used to seeing a powerful female character who isn’t benevolent,” said Smith, who played Crazy Kate in last summer‘s westernized version of A Comedy of Errors.

“The way I’ve envisioned her is she’s always been overshadowed by her older sister, so the only way to get the respect and attention she deserves is to get her sister out of the way. So there is a lot going on with her outside the play,” she continued, adding the other thing she is looking forward to is getting to use a phaser prop.
Smith noted the prospect of playing the being a villain was just as appealing as playing the Tempest in space.
“I love it. I grew up watching Star Trek. It was groundbreaking then. They had the first inter-racial kiss. It was gender bending and who doesn’t like science fiction,” Smith laughed.
Gellatly, said setting the Tempest in space was another easy choice.

“A lot of the Tempest translates easily to a futuristic theme,” Gellatly said, noting there are a lot of supernatural and fantastic themes in the play.
“So you can easily imagine it on an uninhabited planet with creatures rather than on a deserted island with lots of magic and supernatural deities,“ he said.
“ My dad was a huge Star Trek Next Generation fan, so I grew up with science fiction,” he said.

 Chris Kyle Peterson, who played Mercutio in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Romeo and Juliet two years ago and who plays plotting, protective mother Prospera, is no stranger to gender bending roles, but she returned  because of the prospect of working with Gellatly again, who also directed Romeo and Juliet.
“I was very excited to return because DJ was directing. I think they cast me because I’m the only actual mother in the cast,” she laughed.


New West Theatre switching up season due to Yates renovations

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 New West Theatre has been forced to shift the timing of their season due to  the delays in renovating the local semi-professional theatre company’s home of The Yates and Sterndale Bennett Theatre.
 But in addition to rethinking venues, they also decided to refocus their image of being best known for their always popular musical comedy revues.Derek Stevenson and Sharon Peat are excited about  the upcoming new West Theatre season. Photo by Richard Amery
““Rockers Gone Country’ was going to be our first show in July. It was already cast but we had to move it to February. So we gave the actors cast in it first right of refusal. Some of them were only available for the summer. Some of them are available for this show. But the show also falls on Valentine‘s day, which is a great date night,” said New West Artistic Director Sharon Peat.

“ It’s all about songs which were number one on both the country and pop charts,” she said.
they are trying something completely different, by putting on the Tony Award winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet for their first show of the season, Sept 12 at the Yates Theatre.

“It’s the first time in years New West has done a musical. It’s about Sun Studios musicians Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. It’s based on an actual recording session they did in 1956. It’s like being a fly on the wall of Sun Studios, so you learn all about these characters, and of course there’s the music,” Peat enthused.

 She is also excited to bring back “Night Life,” a cabaret in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre. Nightlife 2.0. runs Nov. 16 and 17.
“We’re super excited about the second show. It’s adult based, so it’s not for families. It’s New West after dark,” Peat described.
 The first musical comedy revue of the season is their Christmas show, “Hit Parade,” running Dec. 18-Jan. 5 in  The Yates Theatre. It will combine comedy with plenty of favourite hits.

Their beloved Munsch Theatre for young people show returns for Christmas as well as Munsch-O-Rama explores Munsch favourites  ‘50 below Zero;’ ‘The Paper Bag Princess,’; ‘Thomas’s Snowsuit’; ‘PIGS’ and ‘Something Good.’ It will be running at Casa, Dec. 26 -Jan 5.
 Peat is especially pleased to present   Evan Placey’s play “Girls Like That,” which explores teens in the age of the Internet and social media, May 1-11 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.


Princess Rules brings back beloved characters

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Aaron Collier is excited to bring Heist’s new production “Princess Rules” to Club Didi for Lethbridge Pride Festival, tonight , June 16 and Sunday night , June 17 at  8 p.m..
 Princess Rules is the sequel to the award winning Princess show.

“We’ve toured Nova Scotia with it,but this will be the first time in Lethbridge. Which is nice because  the characters were created in Lethbridge  through Club Didi and Theatré Outré in 2916, said Collier from Halifax, who created the characters with Richie Wilcox.

Princess Rules is a new journey of Princess Edward where she takes her career to new heights no matter the cost. In Princess Rules this live action anime performance, Princess Edward reinvents her pop star persona and goes rogue to produce her new show. But when mysterious floating orbs threaten her career and even her life, she must learn how to listen to her true self before she loses everything.

“It’s a play, but it is entirely lip synched to live anime,” Collier said.
“Princess Edward is popular but wants to change her focus,” he continued.


SOAR features the magic of Jeff Newman Mentalism

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Two SOAR festival cabarets were sold out successes at Casa, May 30 and 31.

Each one featured the dance of Claire Lint, magic and music.Jeff n newman brought his new show Trickster to SOAR. Photo by Richard Amery
 I only caught Mentalist Jeff Newman‘s new act “Trickster” at the May 31 cabaret, having to go it in between play rehearsals.
 The always affable  Newman premiered the new show with his usual humour and a lot of crowd participation.

He got one audience member to look after a locked box throughout the show, then got other audience members to help with a variety of tricks including remembering a card without showing him, only to have it turn to a blank deck. It was strange as I was looking over the shoulder of one of the volunteers and saw the six of hearts, but was boggled by the deck turning blank after the volunteer tossed it back to him.

 He prefaced the next bit by talking about his ability to guess the contents of Christmas presents and about how his parents would just speak in German when they didn’t want him to know what they were talking about. 

Coninciding with that story, he performed another neat trick by hypnotizing another audience member into speaking German,which matched with German words written on flash cards which I couldn’t read from my spot at the back of the room.

He wound down his show by having yet another audience member guess which present contained either a plush green dragon, dog or cat. He had the audience member switch the critters and shuffle the boxes she put them into, and then take them out of their boxes and put  them into colourful gift bags behind a barrier, which he predicted on a birthday card he opened after the bit.

I had to leave before finding out what came of the locked box.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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