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Shakespeare Meets Dickens celebrates a classic Christmas

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Christmas was everywhere on Friday, Dec. 14. So I hit three Christmas bashes beginning with the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s annual Shakespeare Meets Dickens fundraiser.

Shelly David and DJ Gellatly enjoying Shakespeare Meets Dickens at Casa, Dec. 14. photo by Richard Amery
 I missed the reader’s theatre version of A Christmas Carol, but was in time for a comedy skit starring  Cole Fettig and DJ Gellatly as well as plenty of beautiful singing from  Stephanie Savage, who sang a sultry version of “Santa Baby.” Stephanie savage singing  at Shakespeare meets Dickens, Dec. 14 at Casa. photo by Richard Amery

Megan Wittig sang more operatic Christmas  songs.

 But most of the laughs came from Monica Baczuk’s version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

New West Theatre breaks out the hits for the holidays in Hit Parade

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New West Theatre is excited to present  their annual  music-revue show  Hit Parade,” at the Yates Theatre, Dec. 19-Jan. 5.Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter perform in New West Theatre’s  production of Hit Parade, Dec. 18- Jan. 5 at the Yates Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
 As expected, the production is a greatest hits collection of some of the audience and cast’s favourite music and comedy from previous year.

 It is also a homecoming and welcome back to some familiar faces like Scott Carpenter, Erica Hunt, Kathy Zaborsky, Kyle Gruninger, relatively new newcomers Ashley Thomson and Rylan Kunkel, and other familiar faces who are making a long awaited return to the stage like Jessica Ens.

“Jessica Ens  has been teaching. She was pregnant with her daughter Chloe when she did her last show with New West four years ago. So Chloe was the youngest cast member because she was a fetus at the time,” chuckled Scott Mezei, the new music director for the show, who is  co -music director  with long time cast member and vocal director Kathy Zaborsky. “I’ve been in the last five shows, but I’m still the new guy here, chuckled Rylan Kunkel.
“ And I get to play saxophone in this show again,” Kunkel enthused.

“I’m a musician who acts, so that has been great,” he continued.
“I get to  perform  Elton John’ ‘Crocodile Rock again too. So it’s nice to be able to repeat that again,” he said, adding he is enjoying watching the cast work.
“Erica and Scott are back and they have such powerful voices and  presence,” Kunkel continued.

 Grahame Renyk returns home to Lethbridge  for a break from studying  for his PHD in Ontario to direct this production.
But though there are familiar faces, there are some changes as Mezei is filling the massive shoes of long time music director and drummer Paul Walker who retired this year.
“They are massive shoes to fill,” he said.


Chinook High School explores compassion in the Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time

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We’ll take a cup of kindness, yet.

Chinook High School presents The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-, Dec. 12-15. Photo by Richard Amery
 Chinook High School hopes to promote compassion and understanding with their production of “ the Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time, which runs  Dec. 12-17.

The Simon Stephens penned drama, based on  Mark Haddon’s novel is a five time Tony Award winning, seven time Olivier Award winning play. Chinook High School drama teacher Duane Piper is directing the production.

“ So we feel pretty lucky to be able to do it,” said assistant director, Grade 12 student Kaitlin Carter.
“It is about Christopher Boone, A 15-year-old with autism who is really good at math. We get to see the world through his eyes,” Carter continued, adding the 25 member cast and crew tell the story though  a lot of tech, sound, storytelling as well as the acting itself.

“The Story opens with Christopher finding a dead dog on the road and is blamed for it because he is first on the scene, but he decides to try and solve the mystery and find out who did it,” she described, noting as the story progresses, he discovers a devastating secret about his family.

“ It’s a really exciting project for us to work on,” she said adding Chinook students are working with more tech and fewer cast than in most of their previous performances.
“It’s definitely a drama, though there are some funny moments,” she said, adding  the story contains some important lessons about compassion, caring  and empathy for other people.


Shakespeare In the Park prepares for Macbeth and presents Shakespeare Meets Dickens

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is excited to welcome back familiar faces as they bring back their popular fundraiser Shakespeare Meets Dickens, Dec. 14 at Casa. Jeff Graham and Bryson Brown performing in last year’s  Shakespeare Meets Dickens, which returns to Casa, Dec. 14. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s the third annual Shakespeare Meets Dickens. It’s an important fundraiser for the Lethbridge Shakespeare Society,” said artistic director Kate Connolly, who won’t be part of this year’s event due to undergoing knee surgery. But there will be plenty of familiar faces taking part including talented singers and musicians Megan Wittig, Ken Rogers, Stephanie Savage and Chris Peterson.

There will also be a lot of familiar faces on stage taking part in the reader’s theatre including most of the Shakespeare Performance Society board members including Jeff Graham and Shelly David plus The Tempest director DJ Gellatly.

The Shakespeare Performance Society has presented innovative productions of Shakespeare plays  in Galt Gardens for the last seven years including a space themed version of the Tempest this year, a western version of A Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary Italy before that.

“This year we’re excited to present Macbeth directed by an and coming young director who studied with Peter Hinton in Ontario, who has directed the Stratford Festival and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto,” said  Connolly, noting Monique Danielle returns home from Toronto this year to direct a more traditional version of MacBeth.
“I think the board wants to keep it in a fairly traditional time and there’s even been talk of kilts! My vision involves not only a lot of Scottish culture and Shakespearean time period but also the involvement of Greek and Roman mythology, particularly with the role of the witches! I want to play with the ideas of gender, feminism, femininity and toxic masculinity. We’re taking on a lot of big ideas that are so crucial to where our society’s at today but with a talented cast I think audiences are going to be in for something pretty amazing, ” Danielle wrote in a Facebook message.

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