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New West and the Enmax Centre celebrate Christmas with Elf: The Musical

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If you love modern Christmas classic Elf  the movie, then don’t miss  Elf: the Musical, a co-production with the Enmax Centre and New West Theatre.

 The show is already close to sold out until Christmas. It opens on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Scott Carpenter and Kevin Owen Clarke star in Elf: the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

 

 The core cast of 19 including a children’s ensemble is the largest New West Theatre has worked with and includes a lot of familiar faces from New West Theatre as well as other familiar faces from the Lethbridge  theatre scene.

 

“The cast 99 per cent local,” enthused director Kelly Reay, noting there are a couple familiar faces returning like  Kevin Owen Clarke who returns to New West Theatre from Toronto  to  plays Will Ferrell’s character  Buddy . He was also part of New West Theatre productions “Next To Normal” and “The Million Dollar Quartet.”

 

“ I’ve always wanted to play Buddy the elf, so when the chance came to do it , I jumped at it,” said Clarke, who tapped into his own natural  joie de vivre to match Buddy’s manic energy.

“I hope the show will help people re-find that childlike enthusiasm about Christmas,” Clarke continued.

 

“ It feels so good to be asked back to play Buddy,” said Clarke who enjoyed being part of  his other two New West shows.

“ It feels beautiful and very natural,” said New West Theatre veteran Scott Carpenter, who grew his beard out to play Santa Claus.

“Elf is such a beloved modern Christmas classic. Our tickets are selling so quickly because people love this show, people love this story. We hope to expand that tradition and create a new one,” said New West Theatre artistic director Kelly Reay, adding it won’t replace their usual music comedy revues they usually hold  in December.

“ It’s good to know people are open to seeing something different,”  Reay continued, noting this production cost twice as much as their usual productions.

The cast and crew have been working at this production for  a long time.

 

“ Everybody’s been putting in 12 hour days for three weeks. They’re really dedicated.  And we have been building the set since the summer It’s been going very well,” Reay said.

The show features  a crack three piece band including Kathy Zaborsky, who is still creating background music for the show plus drummer Keenan Pezderic and bassist Scott Mezei are creating the soundtrack to the show.

Reay said New West has been planning this production  for five years.

“We had the pandemic in the middle ,” Reay said.

“ This is the type of show people want to see with the way  the world is now. People  like familiar and comfortable. It’s escapism, it’s the type of show we need right now,” Reay said.

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Catch the Christmas spirit with Shakespeare Meets Dickens

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society knows how to keep the spirit of Christmas in their hearts. They are proud to present  the eighth annual Shakespeare Meets Dickens, Thursday, Dec. 14 in the casa community room.

 

Shakespeare Meets Dickens is Thursday, Dec. 14 at casa. Photo by Richard Amery

“The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s puts on our annual pre—Christmas celebration every year in the casa community room,” said Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society Artistic director/ producer Kate Connolly.

 

The main attraction is always the recital of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” but there is more fun in store. 

 

“ This year we have opera trained singers who were part of the recent production ‘A Secret Garden’ at the Yates Theatre, performing Christmas carols or songs from Shakespeare inspired shows like  West Side Story and ‘Kiss Me Kate,” Connolly continued, noting Brenton Taylor, Franz Faeldo, Natalie Stronk, Hannah Blackmer and Jani Thompson will be performing.

 

“ The audience always sings along too, which we love,” Connolly continued, noting there will be Christmas treats like mince pie and gingerbread, plus Christmas refreshments like hot chocolate and eggnog plus a cash bar.

 

“ When you come, you will be in for a very lovely evening. Shakespeare meets Dickens is a lovely way to celebrate Christmas,” Connolly promised.

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“Hurry Hard” auditions are coming for Playgoers of Lethbridge’s February production

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Playgoers of Lethbridge welcomes a new director directing a fresh new Canadian comedy “Hurry Hard,” by Kristen Da Silva .

 

“ I directed  high school plays for 44 years so I’ve directed 95 plays, but I’ve never directed adults before. So I’m looking forward to that challenge,” said director Greg Wolcott.

 Auditions for “Hurry Hard” are Monday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m and Tuesday, Nov. 21 in the casa community room.

 

“ It’s a slice of Canadian life. These characters are very common and simple people. Curling is a big part of their lives,” Wolcott summarized, adding you don’t have to know anything about curling to understand the play.

 

“I haven’t seen it. The rights just came available. It deals with relationships around a small town curling club. It’s about a couple who are forced to reconcile over curling,” he continued.

 One of the members of the rink is forced to drop out during health issues which means the couple are forced to work together to compete in a big regional bonspiel when one of  the rink members has to drop out because of health issues.

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Fran Rude to retire with one last LSCO Fundraiser: The Secret Garden

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Lethbridge theatre mainstay Fran Rude, who won the Joan Waterfield Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the arts this year says farewell with her last production of  the musical The Secret Garden, Nov.10-12.

 

“We all have to retire some time,” said Rude recovering from a broken hip but is excited to collaborate again with Ken Rogers on the Tony award winning musical “The Secret Garden, to raise money for LSCO programming.

 

Fran Rude is excited about her last LSCO  fundraiser, The Secret Garden.Photo by Richard Amery

 It is a “heartwarming tale of hope, family and the transformative power of Nature” inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel. The LSCO fundraising show runs at the Yates Theatre 7:30 p.m.  Nov. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

 

“It’s a lovely story and the music is beautiful,” Rude said.

 

“It’s about a girl whose family  dies in a cholera outbreak in India in 1910 so she goes to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, England. He lost his wife so he learns to love again,” summarized Ken Rogers, who is excited about  working with a handpicked cast of 35, though they auditioned for the two child roles,  plus a live orchestra of 18, mostly members of the Lethbridge Symphony orchestra, concentrating on strings.

 

“ The two children are outstanding and remarkable,” Rude enthused.

“There are 33 musical numbers in this show. The musical score is absolutely gorgeous. It’s very orchestral. They are sumptuous and the strings are stunning,” Rogers said, noting there are solos, duos, trios and quartets  sprinkled throughout the performance.

 

“The musicians come from all walks of life,” he said.

 “We handpicked the cast for people we knew could play the roles. We’ve been working in the local theatre community for so long, we knew who would be best for the roles,” he said

 Rogers is excited to collaborate with Rude one last time on a large scale fundraiser for the LSCO and decided to choose a show that would be a guaranteed hit, as  The LSCO  put their money on the line to produce the show.

 

“We didn’t want to choose a show that won’t sell  out,” he said, noting tickets are going fast. Closing night is almost sold out already.

Rude worked with Rogers on a smaller scale production of the musical in 1986.

“It’s staged quite differently,” Rude said, adding the musicians are on stage with the actors.

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