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Creature Theatre explores creatures of the sky and night at Galt Gardens

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What’s the smartest bird in the forest? Is the the owl? Don’t be a wise acre. That’s not even close. It is the members of the corvid family — crows and ravens.


Bat (Chelsey Huber) discusses plans with Moth ( Jen Buit) during Creature Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery You can learn that and more interesting nature facts from Creature Theatre.

For the past 10 years the Helen Schuler Nature Centre staff and volunteers have been educating and entertaining  at Galt Garden’s every Thursday from 7-8 p.m.


“Creature Theatre is interactive and interpretive theatre. And it’s outdoors, which is unique for Lethbridge,” said Coreen Putman, Helen Schuler  Nature Centre  co-ordinator, who almost always brings her two children to Galt Gardens every Thursday during the summer.


This summer they are alternating between two shows, “Bird Brain,”  which takes place this week (Aug. 13) , examines which of the birds are the smartest of all through drama, costumes, action and a lot of humour, and  “Night Creatures,” which revamps a production they did in the first year,  examines Skunk’s plan to become ruler of the night over the Owl, with help of her friends, Moth, Cicada and Porcupine.

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I’m getting used to dying at Fort Whoop-Up

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I’m getting used to getting shot and killed twice a week. By now, I must have more lives than a proverbial cat. I’ve got used to dying twice a week, not to mention going home half deaf from the gunfire though I don’t even fire any of the shots. Because I’m getting murdered this summer, multiple times, every Friday and Saturday until the end of August.


And sore ribs and nastTom Purcell (Jonathan Kirsch) reloads during Siege. Photo by Richard Ameryy colds aside, it’s been a lot of fun despite crowds not being as large as we hoped.


While Fred Kanouse and his whiskey trading band of scoundrels are putting the fort under siege this summer,  Northwest Mounted Police officer Cst.  Arthur C Tabor, Fort Whoop Up manager David Akers and his friends already have the situation under control.


Siege at Fort Whoop-Up — the Wedding is a production of local improv group Drama Nutz in conjunction with  Fort Whoop -Up which runs every Friday and Saturday until Aug. 28.


All of the characters in the play are based on real people around Fort Whoop Up in 1877, when the play takes place, however the situation is completely fictional.


I’m playing Joseph  MacFarland, the unfortunate groom  whose wedding to Marcella Sheran , older sister of Nicholas Sheran, Lethbridge’s original coal mining mogul, is interrupted by some of Kanouse’s cronies, looking to break him out of the Fort Whoop Up jail.


“I’ve said it again and again, never let history get in the way of a good story. We’re interested in  portraying interesting events rather than  the characters, which we admittedly don’t know a lot about. We’re bringing the Fort to life , so to speak, and using theatre is a great way to do that,” director Dave Gabert said adding the Siege evolved from previous activities at Fort Whoop -Up including  the ‘Wild West Weekend.’Marcella Sheran (Bev Stadelmaan) wields a pistol during Siege at Fort Whoop Up.Photo by Richard Amery


Gabert said the format of Siege at Fort Whoop Up is partially a response to requests from Fort Whoop Up patrons, so it combines dinner theatre (a barbecued hamburger dinner is served) with the murder mysteries Drama Nutz is known for with  suggestions from Fort Whoop  Up patrons.
Because working with real vintage 1800s weapons and real black powder can be unpredictable, there is no script per se. Gabert wrote up a detailed character descriptions, designed detailed plot points and had the actors improvise all of the dialogue, so the show is different every night.


I’ve enjoyed my first time working with Drama Nutz. And you know what? Dying hurts, rather  pretending to die hurts —  a lot. I’ve cracked a couple ribs and did something to  my left arm, while a couple cast members have dragged my body off the set. It’s all in good fun and now I know what actors who do their own stunts, like Jackie Chan and Harrison Ford, must feel like after they shoot a scene.

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Comedy a highlight of All Fired Up

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New West Theatre’s new production is already getting audiences  “all feared up,” all “Fred up,”  but mostly “all fired up.”Kathy Zaborsky sings  during “All Fired Up.” Photo by Richard Amery
An almost sold out opening night crowd, Aug. 5 including people from Washington D.C., Columbus, Ohio and even New Brunswick got into the spirit as the cast, dressed in gold lamée, opened their latest show by delivering a spirited rendition of Kiss’  “Shout It Out Loud.”

I was actually surprised they didn’t include Pat Benetar’s “All Fired Up,”  that being the title of the show.


But “Shout It Out Loud” and a cool version of ‘Jessie’s Girl’ was the closest thing to rock and roll this show included as the musical numbers focused on more disco and ’70s AM radio soft rock.

An early highlight of the show took on the ’80s fitness craze as the cast took the stage in an array of exercise outfits, and bearing a variety of exercise equipment performed to Olivia Newoton John’s “Let’s Get Physical.

It was an extremely physical show as per usual, with the energetic cast bounding all over the stage, which was compunded by the new dancers who made their feats of athletic and artistic prowess look easy.

But for the most part it was disco music all the way. And even though I’d rather be dead then listen to disco music, the cast sure can sing it. So I appreciated it for what it is and how they deliver it.


 Ife Abiola does a mean James Brown impression, right down to doing the splits. He was obviously “Feeling Good,” as he and the rest of the cast beamed ear to ear during their performances.

He also shone on an early Michael Jackson number “Don’t Stop ’til You get Enough,” which showcased some fabulous dance moves from “ bendy, flippy dancers  (as MCs Erica Hunt and  Grahame Renyk introduced them at the beginning of the show)” Claire Lint, Carlynn Antoniuk, Evan Cowan and Josh Malcolm, who were highlights of  the show.

Who needs “So You Think You Can Dance” reality TV rubbish, when you have talent like this in our own little city.


Kathy Zaborsky delivered a stunningly beautiful performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but the dancers’ impressive ballet dance moves during were a bit of a distraction from her performance.

So there was something for everyone for that number, and indeed  the entire show.


 For me, the comedy segments totally made “All Fired Up.”

Anytime Fred Hillyer took the stage, be it wearing a sombrero, a Scottish cap, dressed as an oldster or holding a notebook to deliver “serious pieces,” he had the crowd howling with laughter. And you couldn’t stop him when paired up with the always brash and hilarious Erica Hunt. Unfortunately I still couldn’t hear some of his punch lines, being drowned out by the audience’s laughter.
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New West ‘All Fired Up’ about new dancers and lots of energy

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New West Theatre is “all fired up” by an injection of new talent for their latest show  which opens  at the Yates Theatre, Aug. 5.
“All Fired Up is a mixture of pop and rock hits which spans a few generations. It’s really a high energy  family friendly way to Mark Nivet is All Fired Up for New West Theatre’s next performance. Photo by Richard Amerycelebrate summer,” said director Nicholas Hanson promising more “razzle dazzle” in the form of new lighting and laser effects.


“It’s been really invigorating to add four new dancers. We have four people in the band and eight people as vocalists. It’s the most  bodies we’ve had on stage  for a while. Then there’s the comedy, so as a result  there’s quite an explosion of energy,” he added, noting he is especially excited about the new dancers.


“With TV shows like ‘So, You Think You Can Dance,’  there is a lot more interest in dancing. So we think audiences will really appreciate the high energy and intensity  the dancers bring to this show,” he added.


“There’s a lot of variety and a lot of upbeat numbers which let everyone show off their vocals,” described Jessica Ens, enjoying her tenth summer performing with New West Theatre. She is enjoying working with Mark Nivet again for this production. It has been a challenge  for the cast to be performing  the country show (Rockin’ The Rodeo) at night while rehearsing for this one during the day.

Erica Hunt and some of the cast from New West Theatre’s  production of ‘All Fired Up.’ Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been  nice to have these different genres. The  last one was  a lot of country music, this one is a completely rock and roll,” she said adding ‘Rockin’ The Rodeo’ was well received by the audiences. This time, the cast explore  a variety of rock pop, R and B and disco hits hits from ‘Africa’ to ‘ I Feel the Earth Move.’”


 They even  perform Kiss’ ‘Shout It Out Loud.’ and some other ’80s hits like ‘Jessie’s Girl’ and ’I Want to Know What Love Is.’

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