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Playgoers examines advertising and politics in Sean Devine’s Daisy

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Don’t miss Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of Canadian playwright Sean Devine’s 2017  drama “Daisy.”
It only runs two more days, tonight and tomorrow, Feb. 21 and 22 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre downtown.

Karl Airey and Allen Gibson rehearse Daisy. Photo by Richard AmeryIt’s weird just watching a play rather than being in  it, but I was very impressed with this technological masterpiece and the cast, most of whom are new to Playgoers of Lethbridge, but not to the stage.

 The play, based around the first political attack ad , “Daisy,” which ran once during the 1964 Johnson Goldwater presidential election but changed the face of political advertising forever. It shows the more things change, the more they stay the same as we go into another presidential election.

 The new play explores the fear of nuclear war overwhelming the U.S.A during the ’60s and perfectly captures the era.
 It is about the advertising agency behind the ad and the people involved with the ad.

 Director Rita Peterson beautifully and subtly helps the cast capture the quirks of their characters. 

Cole Fetting, who plays the neurotic and paranoid Aaron Ehrlich, provides the comic relief, standing between the battles between the agency’s moral conscience of Louise Brown, played beautifully by Megan Fennel and the ambitious Sid Myers, played by Trevor Loman. All three are familiar faces from The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s production of Macbeth.

 But the scene of the era is set  before the show, as vintage cartoons and commercials from the ’50s and ’60s are displayed while the audience waits for the show to begin.

 It is a really tech heavy show — more than Playgoers of Lethbridge usually does.
 Luc Toupin handles the sound beautifully, which is a must as the play is as much about how sound affects viewers as it is about the characters at the agency and the paranoia of the ’60s.


Theatre Outré explores inter-generational relationships in Whale Riding Weather

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 Theatre Outré is excited about their new collaboration with Calgary’s Sage Theatre for Bryden MacDonald’s Whale Riding Weather. It is the generation spanning story of a  love triangle between three gay men in their 60s, 40s and 20s.

“ It fits right in with this year’s Theatre Outré theme of intergenerational relationships,” said Theatre Outré artistic director Jay Whitehead.

The play features Marek CzumJay Whitehead perfoms in Whale Riding Weather. Photo by Richard Amerya, Allister MacDonald and Theatre Outré artistic director Jay Whitehead.
 It runs in Calgary, Feb. 18-22, then in Lethbridge at Didi’s Playhaus, Feb. 24-28.

“It’s about a couple who have been together for 15 years. The older man is starting to decline mentally and his partner is  being a caregiver, but he’s starting to check out until a younger man comes into his life who is excited and full of life,” summarized Whitehead, who plays the man in his 40s. 

Gail Hanrahan is directing the production.

“’I’ve formed a relationship with Sage Theatre artistic director  Jason Mehmel and wanted to work with them because they create a more experimental style of theatre,” Whitehead said.


U of L explores twins and science in Blood: A Scientific Romance

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Kelly Reay is excited to revisit Blood: A Scientific Romance running, Feb. 12-15 in University Theatre.Daylin Chase and Jessica Syratt are in Blood: A Scientific Romance this week at the University of Lethbridge. Photo Submitted
“ It’s a modern Canadian play by Meg Braem. Meg has a connection to Lethbridge because she was a professor at the University of Lethbridge around 2010,” Reay, said, adding he also has a personal connection to the play as he worked with Braem to put on the play in Calgary several years ago.

“ Filled with visceral imagery and haunting dialogue, Blood: A Scientific Romance is a captivating play featuring a rich cast of characters,”  according to a press release on the play. Guest director, Kelly Reay is doing double duty, as he is also directing New West Theatre’s March production of Dear Johnny Deere which runs March 4-14.

“Twin sisters Poubelle and Angelique are bonded in both biology and shared tragedy after a car accident leaves them orphaned along a prairie highway in a pool of blood. But the young twins are brought home with Dr. Glass after their remarkable recovery, and quickly find themselves the subject of endless experiments. In a quest to study Poubelle and Angelique’s undeniable bond, Dr Glass’ questionable practices are soon scrutinized by a young doctor who might be the twins’ only hope for a normal life,” according to the press release.

The small cast features Daylin Chase, Jessica Syratt as the twins Poubelle and  Angelique Patrick Lynn as the young doctor Dr.Max and Paul Vanhoutteghem as Dr. Glass.
Reay was drawn to the play because  of the writing.

“It explores a lot of ethical issues about research,” he said.

Playgoers of Lethbridge get serious with “Daisy” at Sterndale Bennett

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Once upon a time, surprisingly, election ads were honest, dare we say positive. The infamous Daisy ad changed all that in 1964.Megan Fennell, Trevor Loman and Cole Fetting rehearse Daisy. Photo by Richard Amery
 So it is all the more relevant as  the U.S. kicks election season into gear.

Playgoers of Lethbridge explore  the effects of media and negative advertising in their production of Sean Devine’s 2017 play “Daisy,” running  Feb. 19-22 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.
 “Daisy” is departure from Playgoers of Lethbridge’s usual fare of light, bright comedies and dinner theatres  in that is explores more subject matter and is a lot more tech intensive.
“The Daisy ad changed political ads. The Daisy ad was like a hard punch to the gut versus blah, blah , blah, political speech, blah blah blah,” noted Playgoers of Lethbridge veteran Allen Gibson, who plays Bernbach ad agency boss Bill Bernbach.

“I’ve spent most of my life in advertising, so it was an ideal part for me,” Gibson continued, describing his character as ambitious and confident.
“ The agency DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) was struggling  and neededto  improve their reputation in 1964 and that all changed with the Daisy ad. Today they’re worth over $3 billion. I didn’t study the character, but I did study their ads because you can see them on the internet,” he said, noting the parallels between 1964 and today.
“ Back then, if you didn’t understand the power of television, you weren’t going to win election. Today if you don’t understand the power of social media, you’re not going to win,” he observed, adding he is glad to be back on stage with Playgoers.

“It’s an interesting change from the Odd Couple (in which he played Manolo, in Playgoers’ 2013 production of the show).

 The cast includes a lot of new faces to Playgoers of Lethbridge, though familiar for fans of Shakespeare in the Park and The University of Lethbridge Drama program.
Cole Fetting, Megan Fennell and Trevor Loman were all part of Shakespeare in the park’s previous production of McBeth. Fetting and Loman was also part of the University of Lethbridge’s fall production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.
 Loman  is excited to play a different character in Sid Myers, Doyle Dane Bernbach’s art director.
“I’ve really enjoyed researching the ’60s– a decade long before i was born,” Loman said.
“Sid is very sensitive, He knows getting to work for the president is a really big deal,” he said.

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