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Laughs on the range with Cowboy: A Cowboy Story

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Accidental Humour Co. makes some hay with the western movies with their new production Cowboy: A Cowboy Story, which blends elements of multi-media, movies and stage plays. It continues this week at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Sept. 28-Oct. 1. New West Theatre opened the show, Sept. 21.
The Edmonton based group of University of Lethbridge graduates will make you laugh with the new, expanded production. Willie Banfield, Neil James, Cliff Kelly, and Jeremy Mason in Cowboy:a  Cowboy Story. Photos by Richard Amery


Trouble is brewing when a stoic Cliff Kelly playing Cowboy (cue rattlesnake sound effect) wanders into the bar of an unnamed “one whore town” and happens upon a poker game with delightfully sinister Sheriff played by Frazer Andrews and his deputies the Kid (played by a childlike Jeremy Mason) and Welsh (Neil James) in a poker game.

O Willie, wearing a distracting fake grey beard, gets involved in the action and attaches himself to Cowboy, but that only causes more trouble. Sheriff breaks up the initial confrontation between his men and Cowboy, then sends Cowboy upstairs where he meets town whore Lucy, who is also played by a hilarious Willie Banfield, this time with his actual beard, and falls in love with her. The rest is standard, though surreal, western fare. There are shootouts, fistfights, train robberies, horse riding, nefarious plots and a few twists and turns along the way which I won’t spoil.


You know you are going to have a good time as soon as you walk in the door and see a video of a comforting, crackling campfire you soon learn has been built by narrator O Willie, played by a show stealing Willie Banfield, to cook baked beans which he stirs with his fingers.
“We came through like five years ago. We’re all University of Lethbridge graduates. And we’ve all brought it back on a tour across Alberta,” said co-director and playwright and video designer  Brent Felzien.


The cast includes former New West artistic director Jeremy Mason, Willie Banfield, who has performed in several New West productions, Cliff Kelly and Frazier Andrew. Each of them play multiple characters.
Several different characters appear on screen while others appear live on stage so different characters played by the same actor can interact with each other. The interaction between the two worlds — video and on stage—  is seamless. For example when a character spits on screen or shoots in the middle of a bar, a spittoon on stage falls over. Characters on stage shoot characters on screen and it feels natural.


Though Cowboy: A Cowboy Story is definitely a comedy, and knows it, (a close up of the Kid’s poker hand shows Uno cards and the last gunfight turns into an old fashioned shooting video game, ) everybody pretty much dies in the end. You definitely have to suspend your disbelief and just laugh, especially when Cowboy and O Willie are riding barrel horses across the stage.


 But it is a ride definitely worth taking. Mason does an excellent job of playing two contrasting characters — the childlike Kid and the more serious “Gunfighter.”
“We’ve added some new choreography and two new video projectors and screens,” Felzien said, noting their theatre company Accidental Humour Company‘s mandate is to combine theatre with movies.
“We all love theatre and we all love movies, so we wanted to develop something that combines our love for both of them, to build and tour them,” he said.
He said Cowboy: A Cowboy Story is both a satire and an homage to western movies.

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New West presents old west laughs with Cowboy: A Cowboy Story

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Get ready to laugh cowboy style with Accidental Humour Co.’s  Cowboy: a Cowboy Story,” which New West Theatre brings to the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Sept. 21-Oct. 1.Accidental Humour Co’s Willie Banfield, Cliff Kelly, Frazier Andrew  and jeremy Mason star in Cowboy: An Cowboy Story. Photo By Richard Amery
The Edmonton based group of University of Lethbridge graduates are excited to bring Cowboy: A Cowboy Story back to Lethbridge for a two week run Sept. 21-Oct. 1.

The cast includes former New West artistic director Jeremy Mason, Willie Banfield, who has performed in several New West productions, Cliff Kelly and Frazier Andrew. Each of them play multiple characters


“We’ve added some new choreography and two new video projectors and screens,” he said, noting  their theatre company Accidental Humour Company‘s mandate is to combine theatre with movies,” said co-director and playwright and video designer  Brent Felzien.


“We all love theatre and we all love movies, so we wanted to develop something that  combines our love for both of them, to build and tour them,” he said.
He said Cowboy: A Cowboy Story is both a satire and an homage to western movies.


“It’s a little of both,” he said, adding the play allows them to explore the various facets of western movies they enjoy.
“It’s very silly, very funny and lots of action, horse riding, train robbing and romance,” he said.

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Fun at the fringe with local shows this weekend

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The Lethbridge Fringe Festival, second edition got off to a fine start this week, beginning, Sept. 15.
 I managed to catch the two Lethbridge entries in the Festival on Friday, Sept. 16, which coincidentally are both happening at Club Didi at various times throughout the weekend.
  The Theatre Outre improv wing, featuring several veterans of now defunct local improv troupe the Drama Nutz, showed improv is a whole lot more than Whose Line is It  Anyway style laughter.Erica Barr performs in No Way Out. Photo by Richard Amery


  “No Way Out” features a family dinner between three siblings who meet for a reason determined by audience suggestions. And while there are a lot of chuckles things get real really quickly as the cast shows some substantial dramatic chops.


 The first night the siblings were meeting because of an intervention. Friday night’s show was about how they cope with their sick mother choosing the option of assisted dying.


 Things started pretty light hearted with the younger sibling Connor Christmas explaining to eldest brother Greg Wilson about how Snapchat works and what the whitest kind of sushi is and his love for taco chips, but things get pretty serious when Camille Pavlenko, the middle child and oldest child Greg sit their young brother down to tell their young brother that their mom isn’t doing as well as they hoped.

Things got even more serious got a call from “doctor” David Gabert to get down to the hospital when their mom, Erica Barr tells Greg she doesn’t want to fight cancer anymore and wants to explore the assisted dying option.

She impresses me more and more every time I see her in a dramatic role, though she can be absolutely hilarious. Pavlenko also showed some serious emotion throughout though unfortunately she had her back to the audience for most of the show and was blocking Wilson. I usually know her as a comedienne, so it was great to see her show her dramatic side. Connor Christmas, I think actually cried during the final scene of the show. It was very convincing.

Gabert did double duty in Club Didi as the doctor as well as the siblings’ dad.

A bell ringing signified a scene change and usually a flashback.

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Comic Strippers bringing back more Chips and a lot of laughs to Yates

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There is something inherently funny about male strippers. So Vancouver based improv comic Roman Danylo is excited to share the laughter when he brings the Comic Strippers back to the Yates Theatre for the third time, Sept. 9.

The Comic Strippers (L-R) Ken Lawson, Chris Casillan, Roman Danylo, David Milchard. Photo Submitted
“This will be our third time. We love that theatre. It’s a great space. It’s perfect for our show,” Danylo said, noting audiences will see an entirely new show.


“We’ve added another man, so it will  be 20 per cent more chips  so that makes it more fun,” chuckled Danylo about adding Micheal Teigen to the fold which includes Danylo, Ken Lawson, Chris Casillan and David Milchard. They have a rotating cast throughout  the year as they tour three to six months of the year.


 Danylo learned his improv chops at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, so he is always excited to return to Alberta, especially when he has a new show.


 As the Comic Strippers are an improvised show based on what happens when “over-the-hill” male strippers decide to do what to do with their lives, it is always a new show, but they have  something special planned for this one.


“We have new choreography, new lip synching and we’re even doing an original song,” he said, adding the Comic Strippers is a variety show based on the theme of male strippers in “comic bodies” and built on suggestions from the audience.


“We’re all in our late 40’s now, so there is a lot of stretching before shows and a lot of ice on our knees afterwards. It also inspires us to get in shape, though not too much because our comic bodies are a big part of the humour. Being in shape isn’t a prerequisite. The more comedic the body is, the more laughs you are going to get,” he said.


“The concept of the show is still the same though. We’re a group of fake male strippers who have perhaps stripping far too long and need to find alternatives because we’re getting a bit too old, but we dance as sexy as we can,” he said.
 “Our comedy bodies will make you look good,” he promised.

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