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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.


New West Theatre celebrates 30 years with expanded season

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New West Theatre celebrates 30 years with a new general manager and a new take on old ideas.

Kelly Reay  is excited about New West Theatre's thirtieth anniversary season. Photo by Richard Amery
“We’re known for our musical comedy revues. Those are our tent pole events so we‘d never stop doing those because our audiences have stayed with us and expect those, but we’re expanding the schedule because we also want to increase our audience,” said general manager Kelly Reay, who directs  the first musical  comedy revue, not taking place until August. It is a tribute to the women of music — Divine: The Divine Women of Song runs Aug. 7-24. The other Musical comedy revue is their popular Christmas show, “Celebrate: The Anniversary Special will run Dec. 18-Jan. 4.

“We’re going longer runs and we’ve added a few Tuesday shows and Sunday matinees,” he observed.
“It”s our thirtieth anniversary, so we’ve got a bigger season. it will be a nod to our past but it also shows we’re looking at the future ,” he continued, noting they have added a  “fun pirate tale” “ the Legend of the Lost Tooth,” penned by U of L professor Nicola Elson for their new years theatre for young people show.

“ It’s a fun. It‘s got something for kids and adults because we don’t want them to get bored,” he said.
 Inspired by  the success of the rock and roll musical “The Million Dollar Quartet” last year, they are doing two more for this season.

Alan James and Rob Bettison’s “ Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” runs  at the Yates Theatre, Sept. 4-21. They held an open audition call for that show.


Lots of original works at Chinook One Act Play Festival

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 Playgoers of Lethbridge featured two big nights of mostly original drama at the Chinook Regional One Act Play Festival, Quinn Larder and Brent Clark in At the Mercy of the Waves. Photo by Richard AmeryMarch 29 and  30. I missed day two which featured, eventual winner , Playgoers of Lethbridge’s submission of Edward Albee’s Zoo story directed by first time director Mary-Lynn Muhly and performed by Cole Fetting and Josh Hammerstedt which took home  best play and moves on the the provincial One act Play competition in High River in May. 

But the first day featured all of the original scripts, which were well done and drew  great praise from adjudicator  Richard O’ Brien.Tracy Wyman won best female actress for her performance in   Falling Through Time at the One Act Play Festival, March 29-30 at the Sterndale bennett Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
 O’Brien really was taken by  the first play,the epic  “At the Mercy of the Waves, written by Jordy Wiens, about two homeless people fearing armageddon, surrounded by an assortment of trash and being driven crazy by the sound of the waves. Brent Clark won best Male Actor for his performance of Perry, a homeless man, who makes a  tin foil hat and draws the awe of his friend Myra, played by  Quinn Larder, who was charming in his innocence, trying to bond with Perry and who can’t figure out how to make a hat of his own. The script won best original script, which was accepted by director Tahnia Getson.

“Falling Through Time,” an original script written  by Tracy Wyman, who also won best female actor, joined by  Jocelyn Steinborn and Haley Gray, was three poignant monologues by three different women remembering harvest time, family members, tea time, photographs and memories of them both.

 The third play was amazing. Kayla Turnbull  penned a film noire styled script about a hit woman, Constance, played by Matya Mikuliak and her serial killer minion Sal, Jesse Thibert and his new girlfriend  Brea, played by Mariah  Jakob, who slowly becomes more obsessed with Constance and increasingly jealous of Sal and Constance’s relationship.

 It became increasingly unsettling and sinister as the story progressed.

Jesse Thibert played evil especially well as Sal, matching to the cold dispassion of his boss Constance, Mataya Mikulak. Mariah Jakob was equallMataya Mikuliak and Jesse Thibert in She Is Buried at the one Act Play Festival. Photo by Richard Ameryy impressive as Sal’s obsessive new beau and last murder victim Brea.

Adjudicator O’ Brien was  a little confused by the  movements of the “network” aka Sal's other victims “ Trevor Loman, Hannah Sawatzky, Cora Moorhead, Chelsea Fitzsimmons and  Rachel Nibogie. who danced  and moved in the background while hissing dialogue as a gGreek chorus and  Sal and Brea’s inner conscience and darkest thoughts.

 O’Brien talked for a good half hour after the performance, offering suggestions and criticisms about each script.
“The Zoo Story” goes to the finals in High River, May 3 and 4.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Windy Castle Medieval Faire plans bloody fun at Murder Under the Big Top fundraiser

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You can help solve a murder under the big top, unless you’re the murderer.Curtis Jestin, John Hedinghan, MIchelle Couper,  Stephanie Snider and Donedin Jackson prepare to kill clown Juanita DeVos in preparation for The Murder Under the Big Top. Photo by Richard Amery
 The Windy Castle Medieval Faire is excited to present their third interactive murder mystery at the Westminster Community Centre (411 16 St. North) by No Frills, Saturday, April 13.

“There’s no excuse not to come. After all, who doesn’t want to run away with the  circus,” chuckled organizer Juanita  DeVos, dressed in her home made killer clown costume.
 Organizers are pulling out all the stops, bringing in a mini-midway, circus treats, clowns and acrobats.

 Everybody who joins the fun gets to play a character. You can choose which as well as how big of a role you want to play in the production.
“There are 80 different characters up for grabs,” said organizer Michelle Couper, noting they range from all manner of circus folks to various circus animals.
Couper is excited about the games.
“ There will be eight or nine games like duck hunt, balloon pop, fishing, skee ball, ring toss and fish bowls,” she listed.

“ We have four garbage  bags full of stuffed animals to give away as prizes. And there will be midway food, popcorn, corn dogs,  cotton candy. We’re even making gluten free hotdogs on a stick,” Couper continued.

Local acrobatic troupe Le Cirque Venteaux, including Donedin Jackson, Curtis Jestin, Stephanie Snider and John Hedinghan will be performing at the  Murder Under the Bigtop to give a preview of their performance at the Faire this summer.Juanita DeVos is excited  for The Murder under the Big Top, April 13 at  Westminster Community Centre.  Photo by Richard Amery

 For the murder mystery portion of the evening, participants are invited to create their own costumes for the event.

“You can choose a character with less of a spotlight role,” she continued, adding they also need volunteer “carnies” to operate the games and food vendors.

The event is a fundraiser for this year’s third annual Windy Castle Medieval Faire, July 20 and 21 at their new location  on Highway 4 and Township Road 74.
“The goal of the Windy Castle Medieval Faire has always been to provide a family friendly event to get people  out of their homes and to have some fun. And who doesn’t love a circus,” added co-organizer Juanita DeVos, adding this fundraiser is an important event for the Faire as the proceeds pay for some of the Faire’s most fun activities including jousters.

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