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New West Theatre opens The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls

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New West Theatre is featuring three fine actresses in their new production of the comedy ‘The Attic, The Pearls and three Fine Girls,’ running  March 4- 13 at the  Sterndale Bennett Theatre. The 1995 play is  a a comedy about three grown daughters who return home to take care of their ailing father. In addition to New West Theatre familiar face Erica Hunt as the eldest sister Jojo, there are some newcLesley Galbecka, Meghan Porteous and Erica Hunt star in New West Theatre’s latest production. Photo by Richard Ameryomers as well including Meghan Porteous who was last seen on stage with New West Theatre over Christmas  for Munsch Time who plays the youngest sister , eccentric artist Jelly, and  newcomer Lesley  Galbecka, a Calgarian who joined the production through working with director Simon Mallett in his Calgary theatre company Downstage.
“When I saw Erica and Meghan in Carnival and Munsch Time I knew I had found two of my three actors,” Mallett said adding though the play is set in a really dark setting, it is actually a hilarious comedy. The play was written by some of Canada’s finest  female performers — Jennifer Brewin, Leah Cherniak, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alisa Palmer and Martha Ross.
“Leah Cherniak  comes from a clowning background, so there is lots of physical comedy,” he said.
“It is about three sisters who have become estranged  and return to the home they grew up in because their father is ill. But it’s a strong outrageous comedy though it certainly has some dramatic moments,” he  continued adding people continue to produce the play because of the portrayal of family dynamics.
“ She (her character Jelly) is the youngest and  has been with her dad for the longest. She’s artistic and eccentric. She has had a tough time being with her dad. So she is anxiously awaiting her sisters,” Porteous  said.

Unidentified Human Remains about relationships

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Theatre XTra’s latest production of Canadian playwright Brad Frasers’ Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love is full of sex, drugs and violence, but  director Shelley Scott wants the audiences to focus on the characters, March 4-6.Andrea Montgomery and Jay Whitehead. Photo by Richard Amery
“It is a dark play, but it actually is a comedy,” she said adding the story is about a group of 20-something friends  living in Edmonton who are being stalked by a serial killer in the early ’90s.
“There are some very funny moments and some overly scary moments,” Scott continued adding she saw the play in Toronto in 1991, though it first opened in Calgary.
“I like the fact that these characters are very close to the age of our actors. It’s closer than they are in a lot of the main stage productions. I also like the relationships between the characters in a very scary situation,” Scott continued adding the cast has melded well together. Three of them, Jay Whitehead (David), Andrea Montgomery (Candy) and Ryan Reese (Kane) jumped right out of  the run of “Hair” and into rehearsals for  “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.”

“Old west” helps out seniors centres

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“Laughter is the best medicine, it does all of our  centres good,” observed Nord Bridge Senior’s association vice -president Jim Hahn, of a great new fundraising concert for the Nord Bridge  Seniors centre and the Lethbridge Senior’s Centre, Feb. 20 at the Yates Theatre.
 “Old West” Favourites is neither western flavoured nor old, nor is the event related to New West Theatre either, though several New West Theatre veterans are involved with this music and comedy revue.Jordana Kohn, Scott Carpenter, Erica Hunt, who are part of the Old West production also helped raise money for the Kidney Foundation. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s called ‘old’ west’ because we’re getting older and we’ve been involved with groups with west in the name, ” laughed the 43-year-old Jeff Carlson, who organized a cast of old friends including Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Arlene Bedster, Kelly Roberts, Jordana Kohn, Andre Royer and Carlson who designed a family friendly show of their favourite songs and comedy sketches from the past 25 years.
“But then we’ve all been doing this since we were 18. A group of us started acting in Fort Macleod in Great West then moved on to New West Theatre,” he said, adding they got back together to put together a show for the 55 Plus games last winter. Some members of the Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre were in attendance and enjoyed the show.
 “This will be the first time both organizations have worked together on an event  like this. It’s going to be quite exciting,” enthused Marcie Stork, volunteer co-ordinator of Fund Development for the Lethbridge Senior Citizen’s Organization.
“As the needs of the community changes, we’ll change with them. We’re all going to be seniors eventually,” Stork said adding senior’s organizations will be getting an even greater influx of seniors as the baby boomers begin turning 55, so programs must evolve to accommodate these younger ‘seniors.’


Hair captures the spirit of the ’60s

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Though the ’60s  finished a few years before I was born, the University of Lethbridge’s production of the 1968 rock musical Hair, which runs Feb. 9-13, captures the essence of a turbulent Danielle Guarr, Ian McFarlane and Kayleigh Book. Photo by Richard Amerydecade almost perfectly. It almost makes me wish I was born 20 years earlier to have experienced that first hand. At least I’d like to think.

I took in opening night, Feb. 9, which was close to sold out. While the Who’s epic ’60s anthem ‘My Generation’ played softly, several audience members could be seen dressed in their hippie best, even the pit band visible beneath  the stage sported love beads, fringes and long hair.

While the crowd was getting settled through a long, opening instrumental featuring atonal sitar music, the show’s main character, Manchester transplant Claude,  played expertly by Jerrim Rushka wandered onto the stage and sat on a tree stump, dwarfed by a massive dreamcatcher, where a couple hippie girls fondled his hair.

 He remained seated through the opening number “Age of Aquarius,” but he’d  steal the spotlight, though his Manchester accent kept  coming and going, as much as  ‘tribe’ leader  Georger Berger, played  by Ian McFarlane did. His innate charisma showed why the tribe look to him as a leader. The first act of the production introduced the audience to the tribe, explored their friendship and bonding over the common love of free love, drugs, peace and harmony.

 Though Hair takes place in 1968, there was a definite connection between the young people back then and the young people today, as they try to find their place in a tumultuous world fraught with parental and societal expectations, surrounded by the dark cloud of war, racial disharmony and the draft. It’s not a production for the politically correct. It has swearing, nudity,  sex, drugs, rock and roll and some intense exploration of controversial issues. But it is mostly about peace, love, friendship and understanding. And what’s wrong with that?

As the cast bond, they become as much friends of the audience as they do of each other.

Several of the cast were highlights including Ife Abiola who displayed his magnificent  set of pipes, and tribe member Lindsay Meli, who got to sing a few numbers, took part in the haunting, dimly lit, tastefully done nude scene ending  Act 1  while Claude  sings “What Am I To Do?” She also added some excellent comedic bits, especially during a scene exploring  the relationships between the parents and their offspring, during which she played  one of the mothers and also a scene in the trippy second act where she played a shoeshine girl for a black and female Abraham Lincoln. All the girls sing really well especially a trio doing a take off of the Supremes.

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