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Auditions for Playgoer’s production of The Play that Goes Wrong coming up

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Long standing  local theatre group Playgoers of Lethbridge has an exciting centennial season planned.


 They are holding auditions for their production of  Jonathan Sayer, Henry Lewis and  Henry Shields’s farce “ The Play That Goes Wrong.” 


“This Olivier Award-winning comedy is a hilarious hybrid of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes. Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines),” according to the play’s website.


 Auditions are Oct. 18 and 19  in the Casa Community room, for the play which will be happening in Feb. 7-11 on the Yates Theatre stage.


“It’s about a theatre troupe putting on a 1920s murder mystery. But there are a lot of problems with  the cast, props and stage manager. There are a lot of mistakes. And there is a murder. So there is a dead body on stage,” said  director Elaine Jagielski.


Barvinok shows off Ukrainian resilience and culture in new play presented by New West Theatre

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Edmonton based playwright and actor Lianna Makuch’s new travelling production of “Barvinok” has taken a circuitous and serendipitous journey back to Lethbridge.


“It’s a celebration of Ukrainian resilience and strength,” Makuch said.


Lianna Makuch is excited to bring her play Barvinok to Lethbridge, Oct. 12-22. Photo by Richard Amery

“Barvinok,” which means “periwinkle” (a flower known for it’s resilience and strength, which Makuch considered an apt metaphor for the Ukrainian people) in Ukrainian, was inspired by Makuch’s discovery of her Baba’s diary of emigrating to Canada during the Second World War, a journey which ended up in Lethbridge.


“It’s a story of resilience, but most importantly it’a a story of hope,” said Makuch, who plays Hania, the main character.


The semi-autobiographical story mirrors her own journey to the Ukraine to rediscover her homeland and Ukrainian cultural roots in 2017 and several others, during which she interviewed a lot of people including veterans and now veterans of Russia’s current war on Ukraine.


“There have been several iterations of the play,” she said, noting the play takes place in 2017, so current events haven’t  changed the text.


“But they have helped the performers better understand the stories of the Ukrainian people. And that has impacted our performances,” she said.


The cast of Lianna Makuch’s play Barvinok at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Oct. 12-22. Photo by Richard Amery

She returned in 2018 to work with Ukrainian theatre troupe Punctuate! Theatre, Pyretic Productions and Alberta Council  for Ukrainian Arts to conduct interviews with of Ukrainian actors, activists, veterans and diplomats, and used some of their quotes in the play.


 The play is all the more poignant as several of the people she interviewed  have since died in the war.


“ I made a lot of close personal friendships who became like a second family to me when I was in Ukraine, some of who are now living in bomb shelters and some who have died,” she said.


“I hope this play will help people to be able to better understand the Ukrainian people. It is a story of hope,” she emphasized, adding it is also has a lot of humour despite the serious subject matter.


“ That was what I found especially talking to the veterans, is their sense of humour. These are ordinary people who signed up to fight,” she said.


“ It shows the Ukrainian spirit and is more meaningful now,” she said.


Theatre Outré begins tenth anniversary season with The Parasite

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Lethbridge based queer focused theatre company Theatre Outré celebrates their “Origins” as they turn 10  this year.


“The Parasites” make an appearance at Theatre Outré's 1oth anniversary Launch, Sept. 12. Photo by RichardAmery

“ If you asked me  in 2012  whether we’d be here in 10 years, I’d tell you I was surprised, but seeing the community created around Theatre Outré over the past 10 years, it’s not surprising,” said Theatre Outré founder Jay Whitehead, before announcing the new season at Bourbon and Butter, which begins with Jay Northcott and Eish van Wieren’s new play “The Parasite.”


“ There have been so many highlights over the years. They”re like my children, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. There’s been so many beautiful  people. We’ve gone through phases like the early years with Richie Wilcox and Aaron Collier and the new era with Deonie Hudson and David Gabert and Kathy Zaborsky,” Whitehead related, adding they are going to re-explore their origins, welcoming back  some familiar faces and revisiting one of the first plays, UnSex’d.


“ I wrote it with Daniel Judes, but Brett Dahl will be directing it. It’s going to be exciting to see the play that started us on this journey,” Whitehead said.


Their first production of the season opens tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Didi’s Playhaus.


New West Theatre to explore family issues in Tony Award winner “Next To Normal”

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New West Theatre is branching out with composer Tom Kitt and  playwright Brian Yorkey penned Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning 2008 rock musical  “Next To Normal,” which runs Sept. 8-24 at the Yates Theatre.


“It’s a Tony Award winning  musical about  the impact of mental health issues have on a  typical family. Everything seems perfect, but there is trauma that hasn’t been addressed yet,” said director Kelly Reay, who was excited to  be able to stage the production as soon as the rights for regional theatre companies became available.


Kevin Owen Clarke, Ethan Snowden and Irene  Poole rehearse Next to Normal. Photo by RichardAmery

“The characters deal with depression. But in the end they are a really strong family who love each other,” he continued.


“Dad’s an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are wisecracking teens. They appear to make up the perfect nuclear family. Yet life is anything but normal when we learn that mom has been struggling wth  manic depression for the last 16 years. ‘Next to Normal’ uses powerful songs  and music to take  audiences in a heartfelt journey with  love, sympathy and heart,” according to a press release from new West Theatre.


Reay noted “Next To Normal” is a departure for the long standing theatre company, which is best known for their always popular variety shows and somewhat lighter fare rather than this darker drama which has strong language and adult themes.


“It’s a really great musical. It’s such a well written play. It won a Pulitzer Prize for the writing,” Reay said.


 “But is does have some nightly language in it,” he continued.

“We’re still going to do the other shows, but we hope to expand our audience. We’d like to build our student audience to more students and university students,” he said.

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