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New West Theatre asking community to “Save Our Stage” with urgent funding request

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Long standing  professional theatre company New West Theatre has fallen on tough times like a lot of  local community groups and arts organizations, so they are reaching out the the community  to “Save Our Stage.”

 

They have been providing family friendly entertainment and have given local performers a break on the big stage for the past 30 years, but lately veered off in to a slightly more experimental, more serious, issues heavy direction, which hasn’t been as successful as they hoped.

 

Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky performing in one of the popular music comedy revues All Spruced Up. Photo by Richard Amery

 The September production of rock and roll musical  “Next to Normal” and “Barvinok” weren’t as successful as they anticipated, so they are returning to what works, more mainstream shows like their family friendly music comedy revues.

 

 With  that “ course correction” in mind, they have set a goal of raising $150,000 in the next two months.

 

“Every little bit helps,” said New West board Chair Dawn Leite, after telling a story about her nephew Declan asking her why she was writing letters asking for help, and offering to donate  five dollars.

 

“We expanded our offerings this year. We underestimated the community’s appetite for different programming,” Leite told a Nov. 18 press conference, noting they will be going back to programming that is a sure bet.

 

“ Audiences have not returned to pre-covid levels. So we’re returning to fun, family oriented theatrical selections,” she said.

 

“We need a little bit of additional funding to make that course correction,” she continued, adding they haven’t launched such a large fundraising campaign before, though they have done smaller campaigns.

 

 New West Theatre’s next big show is their annual “Blockbuster” holiday show running Dec.14-31 to be directed by New West veteran Grahame Renyk.

 

 

 Leite said  there are some special live fundraising events on the horizon to help raise the extra money, which will be announced later.

She said the extra funds are essential.

 

“ It‘s critical. There is an urgent need,” she said acknowledging times are hard for a lot of people who have lost jobs and are just getting used to going out again after Covid.

 

“We have a number of reserves we can dip into,” she said, noting it is also national philanthropy week.

 

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Comedian Ron James back where he belongs — bringing the laughs on stage

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The always ebullient and erudite  Cape Breton born, Toronto based comedian Ron James is excited to return to Lethbridge for two shows at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 and 23.

“ I’m doing Jim Dandy, I spent October in Nova Scotia ,”  enthused James from Toronto, where the first snow of winter is falling.

 

Comedian Ron James returns to Lethbridge next week. Photo Submitted

He is excited to be “Back Where I Belong”— on the road making people laugh all across Canada “from Cornerbrook to Courtney -Comox.”

 He always enjoys performing in Lethbridge.

 

“ I love Southern Alberta. I’ve been to Waterton and  the hoodoos, Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Audiences always come to laugh,” he said.

 

“ The last time I was here was 2018, I think and I heard the Yates theatre had just been renovated. And a lot has happened since then,” James observed.

 

He kept  busy during the pandemic doing a few online shows, working on a couple of television shows and completing his book.“All Over the Map.”

 

“I had to keep the muscle I’ve spent the last 25 years building and strengthening from travelling from Cornerbrook to Courtney-Comox, from atrophying,” he said.

 

The  paperback edition of Ron James’ best selling new book  “All Over the Map” was just released  on Nov. 1. The hardcover version was released last October and has done well.

“It was in the Top 50 between Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld,” he said.

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Ron James back where he belongs — on stage

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The always ebullient and erudite  Cape Breton born, Toronto based comedian Ron James is excited to return to Lethbridge for two shows at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 22 and 23.

“ I’m doing Jim Dandy, I spent October in Nova Scotia ,”  enthused James from Toronto, where the first snow of winter is falling.

He is excited to be “Back Where I Belong”— on the road making people laugh all across Canada “from Cornerbrook to Courtney -Comox.”

 He always enjoys performing in Lethbridge.

 

“ I love Southern Alberta. I’ve been to Waterton and  the hoodoos, Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Audiences always come to laugh,” he said.

 

“ The last time I was here was 2018, I think and I heard the Yates theatre had just been renovated. And a lot has happened since then,” James observed.

 

He kept  busy during the pandemic doing a few online shows, working on a couple of television shows and completing his book.“All Over the Map.”

 

“I had to keep the muscle I’ve spent the last 25 years building  and strengthening from travelling from Cornerbrook to Courtney-Comox, from atrophying,” he said.

 

The  paperback edition of Ron James’ best selling new book  “All Over the Map” was just released  on Nov. 1. The hardcover version was released last October and has done well.

“It was in the Top 50 between Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld,” he said.

“ It’s a love letter to all the people I’ve met and places I’ve seen. It’s not all satire, though there is some of that. My publisher (Doubleday and Penguin, Random House Canada) said not to make it funny on every page, but I think it’s funny on every page,” James said, adding he also recorded an audio book version of it.

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Hatrix Theatre sells out tenth anniversary run of the Evil Dead the Musical

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Hatrix Theatre’s tenth anniversary production of  The Evil Dead, which opened Oct. 20 at the McNally Arts Centre just outside  of Lethbridge, is sold out.

John Pogorzelski, Aaron Broszat Alli Price in Hatrix Theatre’s sold out Evil Dead the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

 

 The exceptional production, directed by Brian Quinn features some familiar faces playing different roles when Hatrix first  staged the horror/comedy musical 10 years ago.


“We‘ve sold out all eight shows. It’s fantastic. We’re very happy about that,” said Carrie-Ann Worden, who plays little sister Cheryl in this production. She played Annie in the original.

 

“ This was the right play to do after the pandemic. People really missed this,” she continued.

 

Students going to the cabin in Hatrix Theatre’s sold out Evil Dead the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

“There’s hilarity, campy, cheesy gore,” she described.

 

“There are so many fans of Evil Dead. 10 years ago, we had people coming all the way f

rom Portland for the show,” she said, adding the musical mirrors Bruce Campbell’s cult classic Evil Dead movie.

 

There are upbeat, hilarious songs, scattered profanity, dancing demons and the set moves as the necronomicon takes hold. And the first three rows get bloody in the splash zone.

 

Worden is excited to play Cheryl, the first victim of the candarian demons the necronomicon unleashes in this production.

 

“ I love Cheryl. I really identify with her. And she’s a lot of fun to play,” Worden said.

 

 The  production had a few problems getting off the ground, with cast members quitting due to health complications.

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