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Good eating with New West’s Luke’s Lunchbox

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 New West Theatre’s new theatre for young people show “Luke’s Lunchbox”  has grown right out of the imagination of New West Theatre artistic director Sharon Peat who workshopped it with cast members Camille Pavlenko, Ryan Reese and Kelly Malcom, not to mention Camille Pavlenko rehearses a scene from New West Theatre’s production of Luke’s Lunchbox, running in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Dec. 26- Jan. 7. Photo by Richard Ameryconsulted with her students to ensure it had a modern flavour.  

 It comes fresh out of the box and onto the stage of the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Dec. 26-Jan. 7.

Drama teacher Sharon Peat was thinking about the idea of students trading lunches when New West started putting together this season’s schedule, but actively started writing it in September.
“I wanted to write a play about eating healthy and well being but in a fun, non-preachy, storytelling kind of way,” Peat said.

“I workshopped it with the cast to decide what parts go where and read it to a number of students who are a lot closer to trading lunches than I am,” she said.
“So it comes out fresher than a play that has been done hundreds of times,” Pavlenko added.
“And you can only see Rogue One so many times, so come out and be part of the story. TV and movies are passive entertainment, but live theatre is active,” Pavlenko continued.


Newcomers shine in New West Theatre’s Tinsel

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New West Theatre’s holiday season production of “Tinsel,” running at the Yates Theatre until Dec. 31 is all about sharing the love and remembering some of New  West Theatre’s favourite moments over the past few years.Shelby Wilson is performing with New West in Tinsel. Photo by Richard Amery
 Pretty much all of the musical selections include the words “love,” “ heart”  and “you.”

The show opens with a moving arrangement of Lionel Richie’s 1986 hit “Dancing on the Ceiling.” All of the talented cast, including longstanding members Scott Carpenter, Erica Hunt, Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky plus newcomers AJ Baragar, Shelby Wilson and Rylan Kunkel, who is part of his first New West show, get to show off  during the group numbers. Shelby Wilson is an instant highlight who stands out immediately from the beginning of “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

 In addition to singing together, they also get to glow in solo spots.

 The newcomers shine especially bright throughout Tinsel.

 AJ Baragar strums guitar  while singing a hilarious rendition of the Arrogant Worms’ “ If I Were Prime Minister,” as “backup singer” Gruninger tries to steal the spotlight from him.

Baragar and Gruninger also play well off each other and together, as they display their acrobatic ability, donning tights and tutus, balancing a big red rubber ball between each other to the tune of a few bars from the Nutcracker Suite played by the crack band of keyboardist Bente Hansen, lead guitarist Scott Mezei, drummer/band leader Paul Walker and bassist/guitarist Greg Paskuski.
Gruninger definitely steals the spotlight on  a version of The Killers’ “ I Believe In a Thing Called Love.”


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.

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