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New West celebrates “Divine” female voices

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When women sing, it is a “divine” experience. So catch New West Theatre’s excellent production of “Divine: The Divine Women Of Song,” which continues at  The Yates Theatre until Saturday, Aug. 24.

Olivia Earl performing in New West’s production of Divine. Photo by Richard Amery
 In my books there is nothing sexier then a woman  who sings. And there is plenty of them in Divine as the talented cast present a crash course in famous women in song, and yet barely touch the surface. But it is a really good overview, going all the way back the ’’40s with  Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

 New West shows tend to follow a well founded formula and it works. There’s plenty of song, dance and comedy.
The cast includes beloved members like Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter, returning member Jordana Kohn, who performed with New West like 25 years ago, relative newcomers like the multi-talented Rylan Kunkel.

 But the newcomers Katie Fellger and Olivia Earl almost steal the show. Actually drummer Keenan Pezderic really does steal the show in his voice over bits and in a particularly inspired comedy bit in which he voices Scott Carpenter’s innermost thoughts as he makes a fool of himself at a wedding.

 The singing is wonderful as always.
They cover  the highlights, opening with “ You Can’t Hurry Love” and each cast member gets their solo spots. Though it is a female powered show, the guys also get to shine. Rylan Kunkel plays sweet saxophone on Olivia Earl’s version of  Connie Francis’s pop hit “Vacation,” and adds  keyboards in a few other places.

Surprisingly, he also sings a solid version of Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep” and knocks it out of the park.

 Bente Hansen steps out from behind the keyboards  to play bass as  Katie  Fellger unleashes her inner demon rocker on Joan Jett and the Runaways’ “Bad Reputation.”


New West Theatre celebrates ladies in song with Divine

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New West Theatre kick off their thirtieth season by  nodding their heads to to the talented ladies of music and even tips their hKatie Fellger with Jordanna Kohn and Olivia Earl rehearse  for Divine. Photo by Richard Ameryat to some of the women of comedy, in their new show Divine: The Divine Women of Song, which runs from Aug. 7-24 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.

“It’s a celebration of women in song and the role women have played in pop music,” summarized Katie Fellger, who joins the cast after several years as the front of house manager.

“ I’m a New West kid. I grew up with New West, so it is exciting to be part of the cast, Fellger continued.
 She is  joined by fellow newcomer Olivia Earl , relative newcomer Rylan Kunkle and New West veterans Scott Carpenter  and Erica Hunt. The cast also welcomes back Jordanna Kohn, who performed with New West in the group’s early days. Together the perform plenty of familiar pop hits from the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” ’50s pop  by Connie Francis to contemporary hits by  Adele and Taylor Swift, plus rock and roll classics by the likes of Tina Turner and Joan Jett.

“It really shows how much influence these early artists had on the modern artists,” Fellger said adding there is also plenty of pop from the likes of Madonna.

“I’m looking forward to performing Madonna’s Vogue. It really has to be performed in a certain way and Jay’s (Whitehead, choreographer) choreography really brings that out. But I also get to sing Joan Jett,” Fellger said.

Life on the Whoop Up Trail draws audiences into Southern Alberta history

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 If you are looking  for something unique to do on a Wednesday night , Fort Whoop Up and New West Theatre have a unique program running until the end of August.
 Wednesday nights are radNick Bohle performs in Trader Tales at fort Whoop Up throughout Augist. Photo by Richard Ameryio show nights and therefore pretty much sacred, so I had to cut short my visit to Fort Whoop Up’s “Life on the Whoop Up Trail.
 Local actor/ writer Andrew Legg has designed a unique dinner theatre exploring the stories of some of the wild characters thriving in Fort Whoop Up Circa 1871 at an interesting cusp in Southern Alberta history, where good money could be made trading whiskey and supplies for buffalo robes with local Blackfoot tribes, w but just as the Northwest Mounted Police  have arrived to try to stop the whiskey trade.

 The  program, which runs 6-9 p.m., lets you step  back in time and meet some of these characters. It begins with a tour of all of the rooms of the newly renovated Fort Whoop up, a meal of stew and chili and one free drink.

 They have buffalo robes on hand so you can pretend to sell them to the “trader” working in the fort and listen to his stories about what is it like to live in an isolated fort in the dead of winter when all of the trading happened, three weeks from anywhere, with nothing to do except wait for wagons full of supplies to arrive to load and unload.

 I was only able to stay for the tour and the meal and missed performances from New West Theatre Actors DJ Gellatly, Ali Price and Nick Bohl.
 Tickets are $80.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Shakespeare in the Park joins Coutts Arts festival entertainment

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society took their summer production of Macbeth on the road to the Coutts Arts Centre outside of Nanton, Sunday, July 21.

Chris Peterson performing at the Coutts Arts Centre, July 21. Photo by Richard Amery
 In addition to Shakespeare, it also allowed a few of the members of the troupe to show off their lovely singing voices.

 Stage manager Stephanie Savage belted out a few powerful soul , R and B and pop numbers, taking turns singing with Chris (Lady Macbeth) Peterson who had a smiling crowd singing along with a few Disney classics including the apt “ I Just Can‘t Wait to Be King,” from the Lion King.

A few of the other cast members added dance and backup vocals.

 While the the cast got into costume and character, Dale Ketcheson played beautiful classical guitar instrumentals including some Bach,  a little bit of Leyenda and  an excellent version of “Classical Gas.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Stephanie Savage performing at the Coutts Arts Centre, July 21. Photo by Richard Amery
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