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New West Theatre’s Elf: the Musical is heartfelt holiday fun

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 The Enmax Centre and New West Theatre’s  winter production of Elf: The Musical features some familiar faces doing something a little different for the long standing theatre troupe’s annual holiday show.


  The cast including New West mainstays Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Katie Fellger, to name a few, join familiar faces from the local theatre community like Ash Thomson, Jillian Bracken, Chris Kyle Peterson,

Chris Kyle Peterson, Scott Carpenter and Erica Hunt playing elves in Elf; The Musical. Photo by Richard amery

 Jesse Thibert and Dave Mikuliak and veteran actors like Jeff Carlson,  to put on the holiday show of the season. It is not just about Christmas, it is about the longing for family and connection.


 Elf: The Musical is about Buddy, a baby who hitched a ride in Santa’s bag , went to the North Pole and was raised by Elves. When he grows up and realizes he is in fact a human and not an elf, hilarity ensues as his childlike enthusiasm and naïveté leads him into all kinds of adventures as he travels to New York to meet his real father and brings everybody a whole lot of much needed fun and Christmas spirit in the process as he discovers what it is like to live as a human.  


Elf: The Musical pretty much perfectly apes Elf the modern day Christmas classic movie, scene for scene. There is a more music than the movie of course and a few scenes and special effects from the movie are absent.


 New West welcomes back  Kevin Owen Clarke ( who performed in New West productions of  Million Dollar Quartet and Next to Normal) to play Buddy the  Elf and his crush Jovie, played by Alexa Elser who had performed in many New West productions before moving to Calgary.


Clarke‘s natural  exuberance and enthusiasm shines through and is a beautiful contrast to Alexa Elser’s world wearied, cynical New Yorker Jovie.

 Erica Hunt is alternately hilarious and touching as she plays mom Emily. 


 She sings a couple beautiful duets with her “son” Ben Vassell, but also gets to cut loose on a couple other soulful numbers.

 They also have a talented young cast including Ben Vassell who plays Buddy’s half brother Michael.



New West and the Enmax Centre celebrate Christmas with Elf: The Musical

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If you love modern Christmas classic Elf  the movie, then don’t miss  Elf: the Musical, a co-production with the Enmax Centre and New West Theatre.

 The show is already close to sold out until Christmas. It opens on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Scott Carpenter and Kevin Owen Clarke star in Elf: the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery


 The core cast of 19 including a children’s ensemble is the largest New West Theatre has worked with and includes a lot of familiar faces from New West Theatre as well as other familiar faces from the Lethbridge  theatre scene.


“The cast 99 per cent local,” enthused director Kelly Reay, noting there are a couple familiar faces returning like  Kevin Owen Clarke who returns to New West Theatre from Toronto  to  plays Will Ferrell’s character  Buddy . He was also part of New West Theatre productions “Next To Normal” and “The Million Dollar Quartet.”


“ I’ve always wanted to play Buddy the elf, so when the chance came to do it , I jumped at it,” said Clarke, who tapped into his own natural  joie de vivre to match Buddy’s manic energy.

“I hope the show will help people re-find that childlike enthusiasm about Christmas,” Clarke continued.


“ It feels so good to be asked back to play Buddy,” said Clarke who enjoyed being part of  his other two New West shows.

“ It feels beautiful and very natural,” said New West Theatre veteran Scott Carpenter, who grew his beard out to play Santa Claus.

“Elf is such a beloved modern Christmas classic. Our tickets are selling so quickly because people love this show, people love this story. We hope to expand that tradition and create a new one,” said New West Theatre artistic director Kelly Reay, adding it won’t replace their usual music comedy revues they usually hold  in December.

“ It’s good to know people are open to seeing something different,”  Reay continued, noting this production cost twice as much as their usual productions.

The cast and crew have been working at this production for  a long time.


“ Everybody’s been putting in 12 hour days for three weeks. They’re really dedicated.  And we have been building the set since the summer It’s been going very well,” Reay said.

The show features  a crack three piece band including Kathy Zaborsky, who is still creating background music for the show plus drummer Keenan Pezderic and bassist Scott Mezei are creating the soundtrack to the show.

Reay said New West has been planning this production  for five years.

“We had the pandemic in the middle ,” Reay said.

“ This is the type of show people want to see with the way  the world is now. People  like familiar and comfortable. It’s escapism, it’s the type of show we need right now,” Reay said.


Catch the Christmas spirit with Shakespeare Meets Dickens

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society knows how to keep the spirit of Christmas in their hearts. They are proud to present  the eighth annual Shakespeare Meets Dickens, Thursday, Dec. 14 in the casa community room.


Shakespeare Meets Dickens is Thursday, Dec. 14 at casa. Photo by Richard Amery

“The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s puts on our annual pre—Christmas celebration every year in the casa community room,” said Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society Artistic director/ producer Kate Connolly.


The main attraction is always the recital of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” but there is more fun in store. 


“ This year we have opera trained singers who were part of the recent production ‘A Secret Garden’ at the Yates Theatre, performing Christmas carols or songs from Shakespeare inspired shows like  West Side Story and ‘Kiss Me Kate,” Connolly continued, noting Brenton Taylor, Franz Faeldo, Natalie Stronk, Hannah Blackmer and Jani Thompson will be performing.


“ The audience always sings along too, which we love,” Connolly continued, noting there will be Christmas treats like mince pie and gingerbread, plus Christmas refreshments like hot chocolate and eggnog plus a cash bar.


“ When you come, you will be in for a very lovely evening. Shakespeare meets Dickens is a lovely way to celebrate Christmas,” Connolly promised.


“Hurry Hard” auditions are coming for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s February production

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Playgoers of Lethbridge welcomes a new director directing a fresh new Canadian comedy “Hurry Hard,” by Kristen Da Silva .


“ I directed  high school plays for 44 years so I’ve directed 95 plays, but I’ve never directed adults before. So I’m looking forward to that challenge,” said director Greg Wolcott.

 Auditions for “Hurry Hard” are Monday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m and Tuesday, Nov. 21 in the casa community room.


“ It’s a slice of Canadian life. These characters are very common and simple people. Curling is a big part of their lives,” Wolcott summarized, adding you don’t have to know anything about curling to understand the play.


“I haven’t seen it. The rights just came available. It deals with relationships around a small town curling club. It’s about a couple who are forced to reconcile over curling,” he continued.

 One of the members of the rink is forced to drop out during health issues which means the couple are forced to work together to compete in a big regional bonspiel when one of  the rink members has to drop out because of health issues.

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