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L.A. Beat

Lots of laughter as New West Celebrate 30 years

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New West Theatre “Celebrates” 30 years with a whole lot of humour in this year’s music-comedy revue— with an emphasis on comedy.

Grahame Renyk and the cast of Celebrate. Photo by Richard Amery
 The talented cast, including long time members and directors Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter, representing each of the past three decades, delved back through 30 years of scripts and songs to design this show. Hunt, Carpenter and co musical director Kathy Zaborsky represent the ’90s, Jessica Ens and Grahame Renyk represent the 2000s and Katie Fellger and  Rylan Kunkel represent the 2010s.

 As always the cast exude joy and happiness and a strong Up with People vibe through singing and dancing, and as always, the comedy which especially stands out in this one.
 They open with  “A Little Less Conversation” and things just get funnier.

 There are  nuns, mounties , streakers and cast members  playing old people cracking jokes about their spouses.
 And every cast member gets to  show off their many talents.
 Scott Carpenter pretty much steals this show. Because while he is usually known for comedy, he shows off his exceptional singing voice on several  songs, both solo and as a group.

 They guys all show off their voices on a a capella version of Love Potion #9.

 They all dress in their ’60s best on the Mama and Papas ’ “California Dreaming,” with Carpenter dressed as Mama Cass.
 Rylan Kunkel shows off his saxophone on “Just A Gigolo,” featuring Carpenter doing his best crooner impression. Kunkel also tries his hand on the grand piano for an impressive version of Elton John’s  “Your Song,” though it was a shame is back was to the audience. Kathy Zaborsky shows off her beautiful operatic voice and piano prowess on grand piano on Chiquita, a duet with co-musical director/ guitarist Scott Mezei.

 Drummer Keenan Pezderic steps out from behind the drums for a couple of comedy bits as well as shows off his baritone in “Love Potion #9”— he usually sings in a falsetto when he plays with his funk/ R and B band Adequate, which also features Scott Mezei.

Jessica Ens  belts out  a couple numbers including “ Holding Out For a Hero,” which adds comedy by featuring superheroes Superman (Scott Carpenter, trying to get out of his Clark Kent clothes and into his Superman tights,” Batman (Grahame Renyk strutting around the stage) and harry Potter (Rylan Kunkel appearing out of a side door by the end of the song. Ens also belts out another Bonnie Tyler classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The country part of the show comes courtesy of Kathy Zaborsky and Rylan Kunkel singing a duet of “Act Naturally.” Kunkel also plays “the Streak,” cracking up both cast members Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter during a hilarious version of the Ray Stevens classic.
 There are a lot of comedic highlights including Grahame Renyk and Kunkel as the Irish nuns and Scott Carpenter as  the Mountie.

 I always loved the new year’s party bit, where Kathy Zaborsky and Scott Carpenter try to have a conversation at a New Year’s party, but keep  being interrupted by the other cast members bringing trays of food and suggesting innuendos.
 Another hilarious bit was Jessica Ens describing the side effects of a new pill prescription to Grahame Renyk, while Scott Carpenter acts them out thinking he is suffering from them.
 The newscast bit, this time featuring Katie Fellger and Kathy Zaborsky, reading the news was a hit as usual.Rylan Kunkel performs with New West Theatre in Celebrate. Photo by Richard Amery
 An inspired but of comedy in the second  set is Grahame Renyk and Erica Hunt plus host Scott Carpenter performing a radio play while an audience volunteer, guided by Katie Fellger, was gut busting hilarious.


There are several impressive and poignant  nods to New West’s 30 year history including stories about growing up with New West
 Upon the urging of bassist Greg Paskuksi, Erica Hunt and Rylan Kunkel, wielding ukuleles, listed all of the names of their musical revue shows to the tune of country classic “I‘ve Been Everywhere,” which was impressive.

 And during a spirited rendition of the Bare Naked Ladies’ “Grade Nine,” featuring the cast dressed punk, goth, cheerleader, nerd and Star Trek characters, They showed pictures of the cast and band when they were in Grade 9 on an overhead screen.

 The second set is all about the medleys.
 The girls open with a beautiful a capella and percussion medley of Simon and Garfunkel hits including The Boxer, Sound of Silence and Cecilia with Erica Hunt, Jessica Ens and Kathy Zaborsky each singing lead on one.

The girls  also take on a Crystals medley including  “Da Doo Run Run,” “He’s a Rebel” and “One Fine Day.”
 Katie Fellger sports a muscle short and jeans joins the guys, dressed in gold lamé on a medley of Sha Na Na hits  including “Rama Lama Ding Dong,” “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” “Who Wrote the Book of Love” and “At the Hop.”
 She also joins the guys as stripping firemen while Erica Hunt belts out “Hot Stuff.”
 If you want to ring in the holiday season with laughter, then don’t miss out on New West’s production of “Celebrate.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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