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Impromptou ready to make you laugh with improvised soap operas and more

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It’s all aboard the HMS Gommorrah as local improv troupe  Impromptu cruises in to fall with a variety of new projects ready to launch on Sept. 5 with their sixth improvDavid Gabert is excited about new ImpromptOu projects this fall. Photo by Richard Ameryised soap opera the Gomorrah Love Boat.

They have a strong stable of 15 cast members who will be participating in a variety of different shows throughout September and October.

“We have a great group of local performers who are looking forward to bringing improv comedy back to local people,” said ImpromptOu Co-Ordinator and Theatre Outré General manager David Gabert, noting, he was inspired by seeing how The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society and New West Theatre handled shows in a post Covid world.

“So most of our shows will be outside as weather permits,” he said, adding tickets will not be sold at the door. Instead they must be purchased online or by contacting  the troupe in advance. On the day of the show, ticket buyers will be given the address of the show.

 Gabert is excited about the next improvised soap opera.
“We‘ve been doing  improvised soap operas for six years. We set the first one in Taber. This year though we can’t actually go on a cruise ship we though you could come and cruise with us,” he said.

 They have also set the soaps in high school, in a gothic setting and in a Downton Abbey setting.
“We have a stellar cast who will be participating in the three arms of ImpromptOu,” Gabert said.



New West Theatre brings the carefree ’50s spirit with Live at the Drive in

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New West Theatre’s summer production of Live at the Drive in opened Aug. 12 at Exhibition Park. With Covid effectively cancelling all things related to  live entertainment, arts companies have been forced to adapt and change.

New West Theatre has decided to offer a drive in theatre experience at Exhibition Park. They went all out by broadcasting the show on a special radio station Katie Fellger performing in Live at the Drive In. photo by Richard Ameryand having a backdrop with ’50s styled popcorn and treats icons at the back of the small stage the city uses for special events like Canada Day and the Rotary Dragon Boat Festival. They had two video screens on each side of the stage and to go with the American Graffiti  era of ’50s and ’60s pop, enhancing that feel was a line up of hot rods along the fence looking over a good sized crowd of cars full of theatre fans, honking in appreciation for musical numbers and corny jokes.

In trying times it is nice to be able to embrace the familiar. And nothing is more familiar than New West Theatre. They’re always entertaining, cracking dad jokes, singing songs you know and smiling up a storm.

 They’re comforting, even when you’re parked in front of a light stand and a mini-van, trying not to rock a piss in your pants throughout a 90 minute show with no intermission, though porta potties are available on site.

But let’s face it, in times like these, who couldn’t use New West Theatre’s good cheer and Up with People attitude? Especially when listening to the news just makes you hate people in general.

All six cast members got to shine with Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Katie Fellger, Rylan Kunkel, Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky being their always entertaining selves. Keenan Pezderic and Scott Mezei provided most of the music with Zaborsky tickling the 88s. She also sang a beautiful “Where the Boys Are” as part of a Connie Francis medley.
 Rylan  Kunkel  also knocked off some sweet saxophone solos. They all sang hair raisingly gorgeous vocal melodies.
But it really seemed like the Katie Fellger show this time. One of new West Theatre’s newer cast members was everywhere, beaming off the screens, dancing, joking and singing beautiful melodies.

 The cast opens the show with an energetic version of Rock Around the Clock, though it is difficult to see who is singing what from a distance.
 The followed it up with one of medleys, the first one featuring the music of the Four Seasons including “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,”  and “ Walk Like A Man.” I believe it was Kyle Gruninger hitting the ear piercing falsetto notes as he does so well.


New West Theatre ready to rock ’50s and ’60s style in new show “Live At The Drive In”

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New West Theatre, like every theatre company has had to adapt to  a post- Covid world.
 So this year‘s summer production is a limited run ’50s and ’60s show  “Live At the Drive In,” at Exhibition Park, Aug. 12-16.

Patrons will have a full drive in-experience,  they will drive their cars into the Exhibition Park parking lot, park inNew West Theatre is “At the Drive In” at Exhibition Park Aug. 12-16. Photo by Richard Amery front of the stage and tune their radios to a special station to listen. The cast are on the same stage  that acts perform on during The Rotary Dragon Boat Races and Canada Day celebrations, but there are also video screens on each side offering a close up view of the cast.

“It’s all been pretty exciting, and a challenging experience,” said director Kelly Reay, noting in addition to having to put together  the multiple pieces of a show, they have also had to figure out the logistics of getting cars in and out of Exhibition Park.

“Never would we have imagined we‘d be doing a drive in performance. But luckily Alberta Health has some pretty specific guidelines we’ve been able to follow. And safety has been our number one priority,” he continued, noting the cast and crew are tested for Covid regularly.

“We’re also lucky we’re a cohort. We’re like a family,” he said. Patrons can also  roll their  windows down and are welcome to cheer and honk in appreciation.
 Cars will be parked 10 feet apart and the small six person cast are perform apart on stage. They will be performing pop and rock hits of the ’50s and ’60s ranging from Paul Anka to Bill Haley and the Comets.

“It’s the American Graffiti era. This show is more of a concert experience than a performance. It’s not the same as performing at the Yates, so there isn’t as much physical comedy. There‘s more joke telling,” he continued, adding that doesn’t mean the jokes are at about the ’50s and ’60s.

“There are a lot of jokes about that era, but there is a lot of contemporary humour. We couldn’t not do jokes about the Covid issue.”
 The cast included familiar faces including Scott Carpenter, Katie Fellger, Kyle Gruninger, Erica Hunt, Rylan Kunkel, Kathy Zaborsky and musicians Scott Mezei and Keenan Pezderic.
 “And the cast also play musical instruments,” Reay added.


Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society winds up season with Merry Wives of Windsor at Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens

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Covid-19 has pretty much crippled entertainment as we know it. But it has lead to artists experimenting with new ways to get their art out to people.

Most theatre companies hJenna Lowe as Falstaff in Merry Wives of Windsor. Photo by Richard Ameryave gone online or broadcasted through social media. The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance society has also done that, but they were also first out of the gate to have a live performance of this summer’s production of the Merry Wives of Windsor.

 The dozen cast members performed in front of a live audience once this summer and finished their season with a sold out performance of the Shakespeare farce at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, Aug. 6.

 I forgot how much I missed live theatre, and even more, being part of the troupe.

 So I joined the sold out audience of 75 at the Gardens, who were laughing and chuckling throughout the comedy.

 The talented cast, some playing multiple characters performed director John Poulsen’s abridged reader’s theatre version of the comedy.Cole Fetting in Merry Wives of Windsor. Photo by Richard Amery
 The cast as the audience sat six feet apart from each other.
 The cast switched costumes and wigs as well as  cracked Shakespearian dirty jokes as the audience laughed appreciatively.

 There were a lot of familiar faces including highlight’s from last year’s production of Macbeth including Trevor Loman, the always beaming Chelsea Fitzsimmons and veterans like the scene stealing Cole Fetting, Chris Kyle Peterson, Jeff Graham and Andrew Legg.

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