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Dear Johnny Deere explores farming issues through Fred Eaglesmith’s music

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New West Theatre brings the music of Canadian alt country/ folk icon Fred Eaglesmith to life at the Yates Theatre, MarchDoug MacArthur rehearses Dear Johnny Deere. Photo by Richard Amery 4-14.
 Calgary based playwright Ken Cameron got inspired to write Dear Johnny Deere which is the story of a farm family in danger of losing their farm.
“It’s about a farmer  who is  in danger of losing his farm and his wife,” summarized Kathy Zaborsky, who plays the wife Caroline and  is co-musical director of the production with Scott Mezei.


“ I’m from Hamilton originally and Fred Eaglesmith used to play there a lot when I was young. He lives not too far away from there. And my brother has a farm near there too. So we have a connection to the Ontario farmer scene,” said Zaborsky.


“It takes place in Ontario, but we‘ve set it in Southern Alberta,” she said.

She is joined by Douglas MacArthur, who plays her husband, Johnny Deere, Andrew Legg and Justin Michael  Carrier and musicians Scott Mezei and Keenan Pezderic.
“It’s about a farmer  who copes with the loss of his family and his farm, but it is a story of redemption and legacy. But it is also his story of forgiveness, which is so important  in the world today,” she continued.
 She noted the music is pretty close to Eaglesmith’s originals.

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Celtic Illusion blends Celtic dance, music and illusion

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You won’t be bored when Australian variety show  Celtic Illusion comes to the Enmax Centre, March 11.Celtic Illusion is at the Enmax Centre, March 11. photo submitted
“There’s something for everyone young, old, male, female. There’s live music and dance and illusion, so you can’t go wrong with that. If you walk away bored, I’d be shocked,” said Australian artist Anthony Street, show creator, director, dancer, illusionist and chief bottle washer of the show.


 He spent four and a half years touring with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, and was inspired to create his own show by the experience.
“When I saw Michael Flatley’s Riverdance show when I was 14, I was inspired, and I went to work with him when I was 20. I want to give the same opportunity to younger dancers and performers that he gave to me,” he continued.


“ I’m really the chief puppet-master. So the show really keeps me on my toes 24-7,” he said.


Since its premiere in 2011, the show has performed to sell-out audiences across Australia and New Zealand, with audiences being blown away by the combination of scintillating dance and illusion.


Cleverly fusing electrifying modern Irish Dance with mind-blowing magic and Grand Illusions, the spectacular stage show is now touring Canada for a limited time; bigger and better than ever.


“ I go to sleep thinking about the show and go to bed thinking about it. I’m always adding things to the show or removing them,” he said, adding he started the show in 2011, but this is the first time touring Canada.

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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.

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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.

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