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Hootenanny ready to have a hoot in July with The Junk Story

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This year‘s Hootenanny is making art out of junk for July.


The popular local devised theatre family production of Hootenanny returns to Galt Gardens all July beginning on Canada Day, then Saturday morning.


Ahona Sanyal and Quinn Larder star in Hootenanny’s The Junk Show in July. Photo by Richard Amery

 “The Junk Show” features Ahona Sanyal and Quinn Larder play Rusty and Dusty, two junk collectors who have some fun with rubbish, sorting junk into piles labelled “No Good” and “So Good,” but get lost in their imaginations playing with their finds.

“Rusty and Dusty are two junk collectors who make friends and learn that everyone and everything has value,” Sanyal summarized.


“We make puppets out of the junk, we go into medieval times, underwater and into space,” continued Sanyal, who is excited to be part of Hootenanny again. She was part of last year’s Hootenanny— “The Risky, Yet Rewarding Adventure of Pearl and Dot.” They had to take the year before that off because of Covid.


Director Nicola Elson, who also works at the University of Lethbridge, didn’t have as much time to dedicate to it due to the strike and Covid affecting operations at the university.


“Usually I like to devise a skeleton of a script and work off that, but I wasn’t able to do that this year, so this is truly devised theatre,” Elson said, adding they let the junk inspire the story.


“ They dialogue doesn’t really matter as much for theatre for young audiences. It’s more about physical acting and colour,” she said,  noting she visited an art junkyard called Bin Diver near Irricana , outside of Calgary and collected an array of items like bicycle wheels, old mops, motorcycle helmets, watering cans, clocks, fans and lamp shades to use.


Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society bringing Hamlet to Lethbridge venues

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society gave a preview of this summer’s production of Hamlet  at the Grand opening of  Festival Square, next to Telegraph and across from the SAAG.


Jesse Thibert (Hamlet) and Ben McLuskey (Horatio) perform a scene from this summer’s production of hamlet  at Festival Square, June 22. Photo by Richard Amery

 Producer Kate Connolly is excited to bring Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy to stages all over the city this summer.


Darryl Croft (Ghost)  performs a scene from this summer’s production of hamlet  at Festival Square, June 22. Photo by Richard Amery

“This is our eleventh year and we were able to do this throughout Covid,” Connolly said before the show.


 While  the local thespians usually concentrate on the comedies, they have explored some of Shakespeare’s tragedies including Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth and the Tempest .

 Connolly is excited to have a full slate of shows and new venues for this year.


“We have 17 shows this summer, which is the most we’ve ever done,” Connolly said, noting most of the July shows will be outside Casa on Thursdays at 7:30 part of Upside Downtown. 


They also have three shows at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, Galt Gardens, Legacy Park and road trips to the Historic Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod,  Coutts Centre outside Nanton and the Venue in High River.


“We’re very excited to be part of the very popular Upside Downtown concert  series ,” Connolly said.


It’s a bug’s life as Cirque du Soleil brings OVO to Lethbridge this weekend

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The Enmax Centre is abuzz— it‘s a virtual hive activity as renown Quebec based circus Cirque Du Soleil gets ready to bring OVO to the Enmax Centre, May 27- 29.


 It is a real beehive at the Enmax Centre as the 100  cast  (52 performers and 48 crew) and support staff plus an additional 100  local people  hired to help get the Enmax Centre ready are bustling around like— well ants in an anthill to get ready for Friday”s premiere— the first date on their Cross-Canada tour and the first since Covid forced a two month break in  the tour.


Corentin LeMaitre-Auger takes a quick breather during rehearsals  for Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO. Photo by Richard Amery

Montreal aerial artists Maxime Charron and Corentin Lemaitre-Auger are rehearsing on the trapeze. The duo, who just graduated from circus school will be dressed up as colourful fleas for the show.


“Our circus school is right across from Cirque du Soleil, so we dreamed of one day joining them. And when we joined they offered us contracts for a year. We were the only graduates to get contracts,” said Charron, who met his partner Lemaitre-Auger at circus school and developed their act together.


 “He’s bigger than I am and I just like to fly,” Charron continued.


“ It’s super fun to be part of Cirque Du Soleil,” LeMaitre Auger said.


“ We had the act before we joined and had to adjust it a little with the artistic director for OVO,” he continued.


Janie Mallet shows off cricket costumes for Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO. Photo by Richard Amery

“ We like to push the boundaries of aerial performance,” he continued.


“Who else get paid to travel and perform and see the world,” Charron enthused.


 The duo joined Cirque Du Soleil on Feb. 11, for a month long residency in Los Angeles for a month before shutting down the hive because of Covid.


The cast and crew scurry all over the Enmax getting things ready for opening night. 


Everyone knows their role, everything is expertly organized, but backstage there is time for laughs, jokes, hugs and stories about how everybody’s break was and even stories about individual bouts with Covid.


 Everybody is excited for OVA take off again with the first shows landing in Lethbridge.


Hatrix revisits the Gazebo for first play since pandemic

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It’s good to be back on stage for Hatrix  theatre.

 In the local theatre troupes’ case, they are going way back to bring one of their first plays— Alec Coppel’s 1958 dark comedy “ The Gazebo back to the Moose Hall stage, May 25-28.


Kaitlin Goodliffe, Karl Airey and Clive Abbott rehearse for the Gazebo, running May 25-28 at the Moose Hall. Photo by Richard Amery

“It’s defin

itely an anniversary play,” said director Karolyn Harker.


 Hatrix first brought the play to the stage in October 2011.


She brought two of the original Gazebo cast members back into the fold, familiar faces from previous  Hatrix productions and Shakespeare in the park veterans as well as as well as talented newcomers.


Kaela Lee and  Karl Airey rehearse for the Gazebo, running May 25-28 at the Moose Hall. Photo by Richard Amery

 Producing a play during a pandemic has been a challenge, but  it is a community effort. The all volunteer cast and crew have to work around work, school and family schedules.


“It’s been about 10 or 11 years since Hatrix did the Gazebo. And we‘ve just come out of two years of social darkness, so we wanted to do something light that with make people laugh and have a good time,” Harker said.


The pandemic meant the play had to be cancelled a couple of times and they’ve undergone multiple cast changes, but she is pleased with how everything is turning out as opening night draws near.


“It’s about a playwright who’s wife is being blackmailed for a teenage indiscretion, so he decides the only way to protect her is to bump off  the blackmailer and he decides underneath his new gazebo as the perfect location to hide the body of  the blackmailer Joe the Black,” Harker summarized.


“But it’s more comedy than murder mystery,” she said.


“It’s really been exciting. I love this talented cast and crew. So don’t miss it,” she said.


 The cast is :  Elliot Nash,Karl Airey; Nell Nash,Kaela Lee; Harlow Edison,Brent Cutforth; Matilda,Cass Elise; Mrs. Chandler, Emily Frewin; Mr. Thorpe,Richard Amery; The Duchess,Kaitlin Goodliffe; Louie,Clive Abbott; Jenkins,Steven Barfus and  Drucker, Lisa Gearing .

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