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Local actors explore early American theatre in “Cocaine”

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A couple familiar faces reunite for a special Theatre Outré presentation of  Pendleton King’s 1916 play “Cocaine.,” running in Didi’s Playhaus, Dec. 14-17.

Anastasia Siceac and Trevor Loman star in Cocaine at T Didi's Playhaus, Dec. 14-17. Photo by RichardAmery

Trevor Loman and Anastasia Siceac . who started out co-directing the play , aren’t as much trying to spread a message about addiction as they are trying to remind  people that live theatre is still happening. hey hope  the two characters Joe and Nora  will resonate about audiences.

 

“ I discovered the play when I was looking at one act plays,” said Loman, who studied acting at the University of Lethbridge with Siceac and who has acted with her i with groups like the Shakespeare Performance Society.

 

“ Cocaine is by Pendleton King who wrote it in 1916 for  the Provincetown playhouse, which was the first theatre group to focus on just doing American plays rather than European plays,” said Loman, noting he intended to co-direct the play with Siceac, but she decided to just focus on acting.

“ There wasn't[t a lot of directing. It was more free-roaming and following our instincts as actors,” Loman said.

 

“IT’s about two characters Joe and Nora who are both addicted to cocaine in 1916 and who live together in an attic. Joe is a boxer who broke his arm so he can’t work any more.  Nora has just come home saying she hasn't made enough money. They are about to be kicked out  by their landlord because they can’t afford to pay the rent,” he continued.

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New West Theatre excited about “Blockbuster” greatest hits show this month

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New West Theatre has a “Blockbuster” comedy-variety show planned for the holiday season.

 After  a few out of the box experiments in the Fall,  the long standing local theatre company is bringing back some old favourites and a whole lot of humour to the Yates Theatre, Dec. 14-31.

“It’s an uplifting  journey. It’s a fun spirit lifter,” said cast member Scott Carpenter, agreeing  the show , like most of their December shows, is a best of show, featuring fan, cast and director favourites from past shows.

 

“There is lots and lots of comedy, both funny songs and comedy bits,” Carpenter promised.

 

 Though the show is called “Blockbuster,” it isn’t entirely about movies, though there are some  familiar soundtrack songs  including “Old Time Rock n Roll” made famous in the movie ‘Risky Business.’

“We’re performing ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from ‘Hairspray,” but my favourite is  Erica Hunt singing ‘Goldfinger.’ It’s a comedy bit but she really sings beautifully on it,” Carpenter said.

 They are also performing ‘Rewrite The Stars’ from ‘ The Greatest Showman.”

 

Scott Carpenter welcomes audiences to New West Theatre’s production of Blockbuster, Dec. 14-31. Photo by RichardAmery

 The cast includes a lot of familiar faces who have returned to New West including Devon Brayne, who was last  on the Yates Theatre stage as part of “The Million Dollar Quartet.” 

 

He has been bringing his character of Johnny Cash to life all across the province in the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

 

 Jessica Ens returns and there are a lot of familiar faces from more recent shows including Katie Fellger and Madisan Cowan, who made her New West debut last year.

The show also features the New West Theatre debut of newcomer Ethan Bintu-Watt. 

 

As always they have a top notch band including Kathy Zaborsky, Greg Paskuski, Scott Mezei and Keenan Pezderic. 

 

Carpenter has been performing with New West Theatre for 31 years and is excited to be part of another production.

 

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Ron James finds humour in pandemic and aging

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Toronto based  Nova Scotian born comedian Ron James shared the funny and a piece of himself at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 for a good sized audience.

 He returns for a second show tonight, Nov. 23 .

 

I always look forward to James’ elaborate storytelling and  hyper-literate stream of consciousness musings on life.

 

 He jumped on stage with a twinkle in his eye like a hyperactive elf, but was more distracted than he should have by the lack of laughter from the section I was sitting in, considering he’s been a touring comedian for over 20 years and should be used to hit and miss audiences, though judging by the peals of laughter from the rest of the room, he was a hit. I was chuckling throughout.

He was also treading more cautiously than I expected around  jokes about Conservatives, though he cracked jokes about Liberals too.

 

Ron James returns to the Yates Theatre tonight. Photo submitted

 The whole show was a lot more political than I expected.

 He opened innocuously with a few observations about The Lethbridge Lodge, the contents of dairy creamer on the table and how he doesn’t know what’s in in any more than he does about the contents of the Covid vaccine and talked about how much Lethbridge has changed since he was last here and talked about  travelling around Alberta, reminiscing about recording one of his specials in Calgary. 

 

He launched into his popular bit about the perils of building golf courses on wildlife habitat, with bears and cougars looking to make lunch out of unwary golfers and the time it takes to read safety pamphlets and instructions on bear spray.

 

He distracted himself from that by talking about being diagnosed with ADD and medication before returning to finish the bear story.

 

 He joked abut inbreeding and the Royal family and CBC programming, suggesting a Family Feud Canada with a family of hillbillies against the Royal family might be funny.

 

 He had plenty of verbiage, which was equalled by the number of bodily function jokes, funny voices and utterances,  mugging and poses to come a little bit later.

He spoke a lot about surviving the pandemic and went off on conspiracy theories and theorists, Donald Trump and U.S and Canadian politics.

 

The 65-year -old comedian hit his stride with more personal material, particularly when talking about aging and the ins and outs of being married, divorced, trying to date online as an older single and eventually dating a 35-year-old a few years ago.

 

 Some of the highlights were about living in a condo in Toronto with his vegetarian daughter who got him into juice cleanses during the pandemic with both hilarious and disgusting results.

 He reminisced about playing hockey has a kid with buckle up skates, and recalled about camping while on drugs and having to worry about the tide rolling in on him.

 

 He wound up his show with a spiel about malfunctioning cell-phones and  the phone store clerk asking him of he had a paper-clip to remove the SIM card.

 So if you’re in the mood to laugh and think, don’t miss Ron James’ second Lethbridge show tonight at the Yates theatre.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

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Theatre Outré spreading Christmas cheer for Quaint Quirky and Christmas

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Mama Didi d’ Edada always gets into some sort of trouble around the holiday season.

 

Didi and Doni are excited for Quaint , Quirky and Christmas this week. Photo by Richard Amery

 Find out  what happens at the Quaint Quirky and Christmas Cabaret at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26.

 

“We always do a Christmas show, but we wanted to go bigger for our tenth anniversary,” said Deonie Hudson, Assistant Director of the  variety show, which will feature 20 performances directed by Andrés Moreno.

 

“It’s a lot of fun. Get into the Christmas spirit and celebrate the season with Theatre Outré,” Hudson said, noting a variety of acts are linked through an ongoing story— the conflict between director Andrés Moreno’s muppet Doni and Jay Whitehead’s beloved Mama Didi E’dada.

 

“ It’s about showcasing the community that Theatre Outré has build up over the past 10 years,” said Moreno, who first got involved with Theatre Outré two years ago.

 

“ It’s definitely an adult show. It’s a variety show. There will be burlesque,  people singing,  drag queens and drag queens and puppetry,” Moreno said.

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