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L.A. Beat

New West celebrates with style

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New West Theatre is  celebrating their twentieth anniversary in style with their new production “Celebration,” which runs until Aug. 29 at the Yates Theatre.
Jocelyn Haub and  Grahame Renyk. Photo By Richard Amery
It is a blast, an uptempo, a little bit raunchy but still family friendly  production full of classic songs, fabulous singing, and some gut-busting hilarious comedy bits. The sow features guys dressed as girls, guys dressed as cows and even featured performer Erica Hunt taking a turn on the drum kit.
 They get bonus points for performing  two songs by Ontario comedy troupe the Arrogant Worms — “I am Cow” which featured Grahame Renyk dressed as the cow and not liking the idea of being milked and a hillbilly version of the Worms” classic  “Happy Birthday” song.
But the show started with a grandiose version of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” which saw the cast going on stage through the crowd which was full of  people who came to the show from as far away as England and China. One of the guests ended up on stage doing sound effects during  a well done take -off on classic radio plays.
 Each of the cast got a chance to shine. Jessica Ens  sang a sultry, sexy version of  “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and Jocelyn Haub showed she has a pretty keen knack for comedy. And Mark Nivet hit some unbelievable high notes singing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.”
Erica Hunt was a highlight as always especially in a skit about an elderly couple  discussing the times the cheated on each other throughout the years. That impressed me, if only because of the speed 
Jessica Ens shows some dance moves. Photo by Richard Amery
in which Hunt and the rest of the cast changed gears and costumes from comedy bits into stylish singing.
They poked fun at themselves during an audience participation improv during which the audience  chose  words  such as a musician, object, noun, number, and media personality  which were used to  create a  successful New West Theatre production.
I also enjoyed  another sketch involving suggestions from the audience, blindfolds and a tarp full of mousetraps. Also an interesting take on an old Monty Python sketch involving dancing, strategically placed pieces of paper which keep getting smaller.
As always the cast is tight, upbeat, enthusiastic, multi-talented and energetic. Celebration is a lot of fun.
—by Richard Amery, L.A Beat editor
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