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L.A. Beat

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.

“ He did a lot of work behind the scene before the show,” Mezie observed.
Mezei’s Adequate band mate Keenan Pezderic fills the drum stool, joining keyboardist Bente Hansen, bassist  Greg Pakuski and Mezei playing guitar, though he was playing bass for the media call, Dec.12.

New West Theatre’s  production of Hit Parade runs Dec. 18- Jan. 5 at the Yates Theatre. Photo by Richard amery
Mezei noted  the music crosses eras and genres including the hits plus some new pieces.
“ There is music from  the 1950s right up to music from the movie ‘A Star is Born,” Mezei observed.
“There’s a lot of great music. it’s going to be fun,” he continued,  adding he is also looking forward to being part of a Las Vegas medley.
“I’m excited to sing  ‘Shadow’ from A Star is Born with Jessica. She suggested that song and it was approved,” Kunkel said, adding working with Zaborsky and Mezei has been a fulfilling experience.

“ They’ve been great. There was one song w that was out of my vocal range, so they adapted quickly and got me to singe harmonies,” Kunkel continued, adding he is also enjoying the comedic portion of the show.

“There’s a lot more musical comedy and not as many jokes. But there’s one where we’re all dresses as Mounties,” he observed.
“It’ll be really funny,” he promised.
“ I haven’t seen any of the comedy yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together at rehearsal, Mezei noted.

 Hit Parade runs Dec. 19-22, 26-29 and  Jan. 2-5 at 7:30 p.m.
 There is also a special New Year’s Eve performance at 7 p.m. and matinees at 1 p.m., Dec. 22,29 and Jan.5.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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