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New West Theatre celebrates ladies in song with Divine

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New West Theatre kick off their thirtieth season by  nodding their heads to to the talented ladies of music and even tips their hKatie Fellger with Jordanna Kohn and Olivia Earl rehearse  for Divine. Photo by Richard Ameryat to some of the women of comedy, in their new show Divine: The Divine Women of Song, which runs from Aug. 7-24 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.


“It’s a celebration of women in song and the role women have played in pop music,” summarized Katie Fellger, who joins the cast after several years as the front of house manager.


“ I’m a New West kid. I grew up with New West, so it is exciting to be part of the cast, Fellger continued.
 She is  joined by fellow newcomer Olivia Earl , relative newcomer Rylan Kunkle and New West veterans Scott Carpenter  and Erica Hunt. The cast also welcomes back Jordanna Kohn, who performed with New West in the group’s early days. Together the perform plenty of familiar pop hits from the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” ’50s pop  by Connie Francis to contemporary hits by  Adele and Taylor Swift, plus rock and roll classics by the likes of Tina Turner and Joan Jett.


“It really shows how much influence these early artists had on the modern artists,” Fellger said adding there is also plenty of pop from the likes of Madonna.

“I’m looking forward to performing Madonna’s Vogue. It really has to be performed in a certain way and Jay’s (Whitehead, choreographer) choreography really brings that out. But I also get to sing Joan Jett,” Fellger said.
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Life on the Whoop Up Trail draws audiences into Southern Alberta history

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 If you are looking  for something unique to do on a Wednesday night , Fort Whoop Up and New West Theatre have a unique program running until the end of August.
 Wednesday nights are radNick Bohle performs in Trader Tales at fort Whoop Up throughout Augist. Photo by Richard Ameryio show nights and therefore pretty much sacred, so I had to cut short my visit to Fort Whoop Up’s “Life on the Whoop Up Trail.
 Local actor/ writer Andrew Legg has designed a unique dinner theatre exploring the stories of some of the wild characters thriving in Fort Whoop Up Circa 1871 at an interesting cusp in Southern Alberta history, where good money could be made trading whiskey and supplies for buffalo robes with local Blackfoot tribes, w but just as the Northwest Mounted Police  have arrived to try to stop the whiskey trade.


 The  program, which runs 6-9 p.m., lets you step  back in time and meet some of these characters. It begins with a tour of all of the rooms of the newly renovated Fort Whoop up, a meal of stew and chili and one free drink.


 They have buffalo robes on hand so you can pretend to sell them to the “trader” working in the fort and listen to his stories about what is it like to live in an isolated fort in the dead of winter when all of the trading happened, three weeks from anywhere, with nothing to do except wait for wagons full of supplies to arrive to load and unload.


 I was only able to stay for the tour and the meal and missed performances from New West Theatre Actors DJ Gellatly, Ali Price and Nick Bohl.
 Tickets are $80.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Shakespeare in the Park joins Coutts Arts festival entertainment

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society took their summer production of Macbeth on the road to the Coutts Arts Centre outside of Nanton, Sunday, July 21.

Chris Peterson performing at the Coutts Arts Centre, July 21. Photo by Richard Amery
 In addition to Shakespeare, it also allowed a few of the members of the troupe to show off their lovely singing voices.


 Stage manager Stephanie Savage belted out a few powerful soul , R and B and pop numbers, taking turns singing with Chris (Lady Macbeth) Peterson who had a smiling crowd singing along with a few Disney classics including the apt “ I Just Can‘t Wait to Be King,” from the Lion King.

A few of the other cast members added dance and backup vocals.


 While the the cast got into costume and character, Dale Ketcheson played beautiful classical guitar instrumentals including some Bach,  a little bit of Leyenda and  an excellent version of “Classical Gas.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Stephanie Savage performing at the Coutts Arts Centre, July 21. Photo by Richard Amery
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Owl Poetry open mic celebrating first anniversary

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 If you’re a poet and you know it, then show it at the Owl Acoustic Lounge’s monthly poetry open mic.
The group celebrates their  first anniversary on the Owl stage with  poems, trees and possibly cake and Shaw TV, July 24.

Cat Charissage and Teri Petz  have enjoyed hosting the Owl Poetry Open mic for the past year. Photo by Richard Amery
 While local poets have  bared their souls and worn their hearts on their sleeves for a year at the open mic, the roots of the group lie in co-organizer Cat Charissage’s living room, two years ago.
“ Teri was always the most enthusiastic about it,” Charissage said, adding she would hold a variety of special workshops in her home.
“At first, it was just a chance for people to share their love for poetry, it wasn’t  about original work at  at all,” she continued, adding one of of the few rules for the poetry open mic is that all works must be originals and performers  must keep to five minutes to allow everyone a chance to perform.


“ Though we haven’t had to use the hook on anybody yet,” she laughed.
“She had a poetry and story circle happening,” enthused co-organizer Teri Petz.
“So when that ended, I wanted to continue and we were looking for  another location. I went to the lady at the library and she suggest I talk to Steve at the Owl and he asked over the phone if we were interested in doing a poetry open mic every month,” said Petz, noting the event turned out to be more popular than she expected.
“ For the first one, we had four or five people we knew would perform, because we didn’t know how many people would show up. Now we have at least 20 people  performing, and we always have new people,” Petz continued.


The open mics draw poets from aged 8 to 85 and everywhere in between, including published poets and people who have never been in front on a microphone before.
“We have all of these different people talking about different things from young women talking about break ups. We have an 85-year-old man talking about losing his wife who had never been in front of a microphone before. And he was followed by a young man talking about blow jobs,” Charissage chucked, emphasizing the  open mics are a safe, non judgemental space.
“There’s no sneering. Everyone is open to listening,” she stressed, adding creating a supportive environment is essential.


“And we try to get everybody to applaud a little longer if someone has never been up before,” Petz added.
“Now we have close to 100 people and most weeks a re a full house or close to a full house,” she said,  adding  they have an active presence on Facebook and posters all over the community. Shaw TV has a regular spotlight feature on the poetry open mic.

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