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Local actor bringing “A Pink Unicorn” to SAAG for Pridefest

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Pridefest is coming up and Ashley Thomson is excited to return home to Lethbridge to kick it off with her one woman production of Elise Forier Edie’s 2011 play the Pink Unicorn, June 9 at 3 p.m. at  SAAG.Ashley Thomson prerforms A Pink Unicorn at SAAG for Pridefest, June 9. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a really beautiful story about a conservative Christian mother who learns her daughter comes out as transgendered, ” said Thomson, who is a veteran of many a New West Theatre Christmas show and several University of Lethbridge performances and played Puck in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“It’s a beautiful story as she questions her religion and her spirituality and he family. She tells the story from a lot of different character’s points of view, but there is no costume changes,” she continued.

“ But it really is about love and acceptance. It takes place in a fictional Texas town, so it is fun to play with a Texas accent,” she said.


Auditions coming for Lethbridge Musical Theatre and Chinook High School’s production of Newsies

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Extra, extra, read all about it, Lethbridge Musical Theatre has joined forces with Chinook High School to bring award winning musical Newsies to the Yates Theatre, Nov. 1-9.
“This project is a hybrid project with Lethbridge Musical Theatre and the choral and musical theatre program at Chinook High School,” said director Dave Mikuliak, who is excited to  be directing the first main stage Lethbridge Musical Theatre production is several years. The massive cast of 60 will include a combination of students and  community members, so there are separate auditions for the public on June 5 from 7-9 p.m.  at the Country Kitchen, but you need to sign up for a slot though Lethbridge musical theatre’s new website
 Auditions for students are June 4 at Chinook High school. Chinook High School students will have their own auditions, as Newsies will be part of their curriculum, which focuses on acting, singing and dancing.

“We did Les Mis which is more singing and dancing and  Fiddler on the Roof, which is more book based, so I’m excited to continue that with Newsies,” Mikuliak enthused.
 The 2012 Broadway show  is inspired by the 1899 New York newsboys strike,which also inspired a 1992 movie.

“Though the musical and  the movie are quite different,” said Mikuliak, who is excited to combine the energy and budget of LMT and Chinook High School.
“ So the newsies will be youth, though it’s written so they can be girls too as that part of the show is written for higher register voices. And the adult characters can be adults,” he continued, adding there are some familiar names like newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer.

“ Lethbridge Musical Theatre hasn’t done a mainstage production at the Yates Theatre for about four years, so it is very cool to be able to help bring that back now they‘re in  a financial position to do something like this.,” said Mikuliak, who has been involved in many LMT productions over the years including Guys and Dolls and Oliver. The last LMT mainstage production was Guys and Dolls in 2014., though they have put on a couple smaller shows to raise funds including Nunsense and Nunsense 2.

“LMT played an important formative role in my life when I was on my 20s and 30s  from 1989 to about 1994,” he enthused, adding he directed Finnegan’s Rainbow in 1995.
“ It’s funny, but a lot of the cast probably wouldn’t even have been born, when I directed my last LMT show. So it’s pretty special to be back,” he chuckled, adding he was excited to research the background for the show.


Hatrix Theatre keeps ahead of the “Rumors”

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Rumors fly in Hatrix Theatre’s upcoming production of the Neil Simon farce “Rumors” at McNally school, May 29-JunBrad Pace and Jocelyn Steinborn rehearse for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amerye 1.
Hatrix welcomes aboard some new faces as well as some familiar faces.

“It’s about four couple who get together to celebrates a fifth couple’s tenth anniversary. The first couple arrive to find the host has been shot and his wife is missing, they try to keep it from the second couple and they try to keep that from the third couple until the police show up,” summarized director Karolyn Harker, noting the playwright passed away last year, though she had already chosen to do the play before then.

“And as they try to not let the cat out of the bag, the rumours start to fly. Who could have shot Charlie and who is having an affair at the club and who is having an affair on the democratic campaign trail,” she continued, adding Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in the play, brought Harker the play, who was immediately drawn to the writing.
“I was in a production of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and really enjoyed the writing, It moves along quickly,” Harker said.

“We’ve got several new faces and some familiar faces. They’ve all been wonderful,” Harker said.
Vittorio Oliverio, who plays Ken in Rumors, is glad to be back with Hatrix. He was one of several actors in this play who were also in 12 Angry Jurors, including Vicki Gibson, who plays Officer Welch, Lisa Gearing, who plays Officer Pudney, Brad Pace, who plays Glenn and Elise Tiffany who plays Claire and Richard Amery, who plays Ernie.Vittorio Oliverio rehearses for Hatrix Theatre’s production of Rumours, May 29-June 1 at McNally school. Photo by Richard Amery

“I found this play because I love Neil Simon’s plays and I’ve never been in one, and wanted to do one, so I brought it to Karolyn,” he said.
“I’m excited about it,” he continued, he said, noting he is enjoying playing deaf for a large part of the play.
“He’s a fun character to play,” he said. Ken and his wife Chris are the first couple to discover their host Charlie has been shot and try to cover it up as the other couples arrive.

 “ But he screws it up,” he said.
“ Ken likes to be in control of everything, but he isn’t here,” he said.

Taber actor Jocelyn Steinborn has become a familiar face performing with Playgoers of Lethbridge and in the One Act Play Festival this year.
“It’s my first show with Hatrix. The story is hilarious and I just wanted to be part of it,” said Steinborn, who plays the crystal loving, somewhat paranoid Cassie, who is married to ambitions Poughkeepsie politician Glenn, played by Brad Pace. She is enjoying playing a more soap operatic role.
“She‘s definitely more insecure than any other character I’ve played,” Steinborn observed.
“She’s a bit of a gold digger and very concerned with outward appearances,” she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said.


New West Theatre ends season with play about cyberbullying

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New West Theatre winds up their season this week with a gripping Canadian play about cyberbullying  and it‘s consequences.New West theatre presents Girls Like That, May 15-25. Photo by Richard Amery
“Girls Like That” runs in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, May 15-25 Wednesday through Saturday. There are also special matinee performances for which several southern Alberta Schools are coming to see.
 They welcome back professional actors, New West Theatre veterans including Alexa Elser and Genevieve Paré, University of Lethbridge students and even a Shakespeare in the park veteran and U of L student  Alli Price.

The cast includes Mali King , Anastasia Siceac, Zoe Bracken, Vivian Ou, Mataya Mikuliak, Kaitlyn Olfert and Heather Gallipeau , who have been involved in an intense 13 day rehearsal process
“It’s a play about cyberbullying and it’s effects of social media on a generation of teenagers, ” said Alexa  Elser, who was part of several new West Music comedy revues including “All Spruced Up,” and ”Heatwave,” but has been working as an actor in Calgary since graduating from the University of Lethbridge in 2016 and returns to New West as a mentor to the younger actors.
“It’s about how cyberbullying has an effect on  the social community, school community and at home,” observed Zoe Bracken, who just graduated  for the University of Lethbridge with a performance degree and is returning for an education degree. She has enjoyed working with and learning from the professional actors.

“Professional actors are mentoring us, so it’s become a learning experience,” Bracken said.
“ It’s a really interesting script. Because the director breaks it up into pieces and gives  them to anywhere between five to 19 girls,” Elser said.
“ It has been split between 10 girls here,” Bracken added.

“But we could say ‘my character would never say that,’ and give it to another character,” Bracken continued.
“The dialogue is different, because it isn’t one character saying ‘hi’ and the other saying ‘hi’ back,” said director Sharon Peat.

According to the press release “Evan Placey’s Girls Like That is an urgent and explosive new play that explores the pressures on young people today in the wake of advancing technology. When a naked photograph of Scarlett goes viral, she becomes the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. But while rumours run wild and everyone forms an opinion, Scarlett just stays silent.
 Awarded Best Play for Young Audiences at the Writers Guild Awards, Girls Like That explores gender equality and the pressures on today’s digital generation. Airing the issues of feminism, self-esteem, peer group pressure and the dangers of the social media this is a must see for teens and parents.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.”

Director Sharon Peat observed this play has a very timely, constantly relevant theme and felt it was important to bring it to the stage.
“It fits in well with our Canadian play series. The playwright is a Canadian, though it was written for a British audience so we had to change things like Level Three instead of Grade 3,” she said.

“I’m a parent and my kids are grown up and I’m thankful they never had to experience cyberbullying. But as a high school teacher. I see it,” she continued.

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