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New West Theatre is all about “Home Grown” Canadian talent

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New West Theatre is not only celebrating “home grown” Canadian music but also local music in their new summer production, aptly titled Home Grown, running July 5-22 in the Yates Theatre.

Erica Hunt, AJ Baragar, Scott Carpenter, Rylan Kunkel, Kathy Zaborsky, Kyle Gruninger and Shel0by Wilson of New West Theatre are excited to present Home Grown at the Yates Theatre, July 5-22 at 7:30 p.m. each night. Photo by Richard Amery
 In addition to familiar cast members including Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky and relative newcomers including Shelby Wilson, Aj Baragar and Rylan Kunkel, New West also welcomes special guests for every week of the run, with John Wort Hannam performing during the first week, Jason Poulsen, who has been a regular cast member in the second week and local country singer Trevor Panczak performing during the last week of the run.
The guests will join the cast to sing a few numbers as well as performing their original music.

“Canada has such a rich musical history, so this show is  about celebrating that and  local talent. Because they are the future. People like John Wort Hannam, Jason Poulsen and Trevor Panczak will be like the next Gordon Lightfoot,” said director Sharon Peat.

“I think we have some really excellent talent here.  So we’re celebrating the past, but it’s also important to look at the future and celebrating it,” Peat said.

“ At one point we had a song list of 180 songs which we had to trim down to a set of 16. Usually Paul Walker is responsible for songs but this time, we formed a little committee including Kathy Zaborsky and (New West guitarist) Scott Mezei,” Peat said, adding some people will ask why certain songs have not been included.
“In some cases, it will be because we just did a song by that particular artist,” she said.


Shakespeare in the Park expects double the fun with twin fueled Comedy of Errors

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Shakespeare in the Park are having fun playing with the comedy “A Comedy of Errors,” which opens at Galt Gardens, at 7 p.m., June 29 and runs most Thursdays and Friday nights until Aug. 11.Antipholus of Syracuse (Austin Halarewich) and Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) strike a gunfighter pose for A Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Amery

Director Ron Chambers is excited to trot on stage a western version of Shakespeare’s comedy, with plenty of slapstick  comedy, misunderstandings and hopefully few errors.

“ I think it‘s going pretty well. It’s two weeks before we open. It looks pretty solid. We‘re ironing out  some details and the guys are busy youtubing Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges,” said Chambers, who is excited to not only work with a diverse cast including university students, recent graduates, community members and a handful of high school students, but is excited to work outside in Galt Gardens.

“I did a play outside several years ago, so getting to work outside again was one of the reasons I wanted to do this play,” he said.

 Chambers and Shakespeare in the Park producer Kate Connolly not only shortened to play to a tight  production just over an hour long, but turned it into a western and tweaked some of the characters turning the Abbess into “Crazy Kate,”the Courtesan into Miss Kitty,  the Duke into the Sheriff and Dr. Pinch, the doctor, into a firebrand preacher. They also turned Ephesus into Heifersus— a rural river cowboy town.

“I did a lot of research into the nineteenth century and incorporated a few phrases. Kate shortened the play and took out a lot of the thees and thous to make it more accessible. It‘s a lot of fun,” Chambers said.

“If you are a Shakespeare scholar or researcher you will probably come away from it disappointed. But if you come to it wanting to have fun, you will have a blast,” he said.

“ I always feel a little guilty about changing Shakespeare, but I don’t think he would have minded. He loved language. he wrote plays to please audiences and to make money, which is what we’re trying to do,” he said, noting Shakespeare was inspired to write A Comedy of Errors by  The Menaechmi written by ancient Roman dramatist Plautus.

“He (Shakespeare)  added an extra pair of twins,” he continued.

“ The play is about two sets of twins who get separated at birth in a shipwreck. (Each twin has a servant twin). One set  of twins come to a strange town and nobody knows who they are so they are mistaken for each other, which creates a lot of  comedy and a lot of errors,” Chambers said.

“It is an hour and 10 minutes. So it is short and sweet and funny. You’ll even have time to go shopping afterwards,” Chambers chuckled.

Cole Fetting has been in quite a few plays over the past year including a  couple in the One Act Play Festival, the LMT fundraiser Jesus Christ Superstar, Undertow Theatre’s “Proud” and last years Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet.



Nerdy fun for the whole family at Crossings Branch Comicon

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The Chinook Crossings branch library is happy to help you tap into your inner nerd with Comicon, June 10.

Paige McGeorge is excited  Comicon will promote the comic collection at at the Chinook Crossings Branch, June 10. photo by Richard Amery.
“We do story-time and programming for teens, but I’m constantly getting whined at for not doing programs for adults,” chuckled Crossings branch teenbrarian Paige McGeorge, dressed for Comicon as Dr. Osgoode from Dr. Who.

“So we’re doing Comicon so grown-ups can have nerdy fun too,” she continued.

“There isn’t a lot like this for grown ups other than Nishikaze, which is awesome,” she continued.
 Comicon begins at the Crossing branch at 10 a.m. with story-time followed be a free screening of the movie the Avengers at 11 a.m. After that there will be panels and workshops  at 1 p.m.The day ends with  a Cosplay contest at 2 p.m.

The cosplay contest is open to anyone who wants  to dress up as their favourite character with two categories based on the age of the cosplayers (12 and  under, 13 and over).
“I’m hoping some of the other staff members will dress up too so I’m not the only one. But they probably will, there’s a lot of nerdy staff here,” she  grinned.

“There really will be something for everyone,” she said.


New West Theatre explores different venues and ideas for new season

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In part due to the ongoing renovations of the Yates Theatre New West Theatre is on the road— all over the city of Lethbridge for their upcoming season.

“We’re doing seven shows in six different venues,” summarized New West Theatre artistic director Sharon Peat.
“It‘s been a challenge, but it has been a fun challenge.”

Sharon Peat is excited about New West Theatre’s new season. Photo by Richard Amery
It is one of several changes for the season which include more shows, but shorter runs for some of them.

 The local semi-professional theatre company is not only playing in new venues, but is also giving long time cast members their first opportunities to direct a New West production. Also, due to the renovations after the Summer production of Barndance, Aug. 26, tickets will be sold at the Dr. Penny Foster building downtown as well as at the Enmax Ticket Centre.

“It’s so exciting. It’s like a magical journey,” Peat enthused.
“The fun part is getting to explore different parts of the city,” she continued.

The first show of the season features all Canadian music.
“Homegrown celebrates Canada 150 by focusing on Canadian music,” Peat said, adding New West is taking advantage of the opportunity to celebrate literally homegrown talent from Lethbridge.

The first show of the season, directed by Peat, “Homegrown” running July 5-22. It celebrates Canadian music, and as a pleasant surprise, the cast will be joined by local musicians with John Wort Hannam performing with the cast  for the first week, Jason Poulsen, who often performs with with New West, joining them for the second week and  local country musician Trevor Panczak performing the third week.
“The guests will be performing with the cast in group numbers and will be performing duets with individual cast members and they’ll do an original song so we can see the kind of talent that is home grown,” said Peat, adding they won’t be dancing with the cast.

“We’re not doing that to them,“ she laughed,noting that run will be slightly shorter each week, running from Wednesday -Saturday, as they will be using the Tuesday to rehearse with the guest artists.
 The second summer show , Barn Dance, directed by Jay Whitehead, runs  Aug 8-26.
“It is more modern country that you hear on the radio. Jay is giving it a kind of CMT feel,” she said.

Jay Whitehead is on stage for the first Canadian play of the season, Morris Panych’s comedy Vigil, Nov. 15-25 and New West Theatre veteran Kathy Zaborsky makes her directorial debut with the company.
“It’s a collaboration with Theatre Outre,” said Peat, noting “Vigil” also marks the first play in a new venue- the Trianon Ballroom, downtown, across from Galt Gardens and down the street from the Park Place Mall.

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