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L.A. Beat

Carnival of laughter and music

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If you’ve been on a cruise or at an all inclusive resort and taken in some of the night time entertainment, you’ll get an idea of New West Theatre’s high energy, heavily choreographed performances  which feature songs, dance and comedy. The latest, Carnival, which opened Dec. 26 at the Yates Theatre, more prominently  features their original comedy sketches, but also incorporates more comedy into the actual mErica Hunt and Scott Mezei during Carnival. Photo by Richard Ameryusical performances.
Opening night began with “shush” booming through the packed Yates, so the audience knew to expect a night of light hearted fun.
 It began with a spine tingling version of Journey’s “Anyway You Want It,” performed  rock opera style by the entire cast but with Mark Nivet handling most of Steve Perry’s high notes.
 As always, personable MCs Erica Hunt and Grahame Renyk did their talk to the audience bit and learned there were people from New York  and Whitehorse in the audience who were visiting for the holidays. They said there would be  selections for popular previous shows, ‘Cutting Out’ and ‘Invasion’ which prepared the audience for a lot of Beatles hits as well as a hilarious version of  “I am King Henry the VIII I Am,” by newcomer  Steven Greenfield. It’s always fun when they do Arrogant Worms’ songs and their version of “Worst Seat on the Plane,” was an excellent example of incorporating the comedy within the songs.
 Jocelyn Haub’s rubber faced expressions were a highlight on this song and several other comedy sketches she was part of. Some of the more hilarious comedy bits included a budget travel sketch where the instructions  for yoga and a beach chair got mixed up which featured Scott Carpenter trying do yoga.
Carpenter, ever the clown whether wearing a sombrero or doing an impressive  set of Tom Jones hits, was also the star of another  sketch examining his creative process.  As Erica Hunt, Jessica Ens and Grahame Renyk acted out his story. It ended up with the cast taking over and writing their own story ending in a Monty Pythonesque seque into a stunning operatic performance by Kathy Zaborsky.Carnival’s cast. Photo by Richard Amery
 Zaborsky also played a superb piano duet with Steven Greenfield on the Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris.
Each of the cast members got a chance to take a lead vocal spot. The girls  sang a set of Bangles hits, and the guys did  a pretty acappella number.
Carnival ended with a  cast version of Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer,’ which was a bit anticlimactic considering the exuberance of the opening number. I would have liked to see the last number being given the same rock opera treatment.
 But as always, there was excellent singing, some impressive dancing and  some funny bone tingling comedic bits. Totally worth checking out.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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