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L.A. Beat

New West Theatre remembers new and old favourites in Starlight

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New West Theatre is on the road— to the west side at Chinook high School as they visit some of their greatest hits while adding a few new numbers courtesy of a multi-talented cast with their revue show Starlight, which runs until Jan. 6.Ashley Thomson and Kyle Gruninger performing in New West’s production of Starlight. Photo by Richard Amery
 The talented cast embraced a strange and new space and made full use of a multi level stage set up featuring numerous stars and outcroppings. Throughout, they dashed all over the set for various comedy bits as well as dance choreography.

The show starts strong with a group number “Heart of Rock and Roll.”  featuring cast member Rylan Kunkel playing a hot saxophone solo what would do Huey Lewis and the News proud. An up tempo treat was getting to hear AJ Baragar play his original band “Cool It,” backed by the cast and New west Theatre’s crack band.

 Rylan Kunkel got to take centre stage with his ukulele to perform “Love Like you,” from Rebecca Sugar’s cartoon “Steven Universe.”

 Newcomer Ashley Thomson (Though she performed years ago with new West)did her best Grace Slick impersonation  for a powerful version of “ White Rabbit,” as the cast strutted/ marched behind her.

 Because  the show is named Starlight,” there were  special guest performers. Kathy Zaborsky , dressed in leather pants and a big, black Joan Jett wig belted out “ I Love Rock and Roll” and because long time cast member Scott Carpenter directed this production, there was plenty of goofy humour.
 They brought back one of my favourite  comedy bits in where Scott Carpenter and A.
Ashley Thomson mix up the instructional CDs for  yoga and  for building a chair, which gave Carpenter a chance to shine, showing his expressive visage as he did yoga to the wrong instructions.

They also had some fun with their celebrity impressions. Kyle Gruninger made a striking Cher, performing “ I Got You Babe,” with a barely recognizable Erica Hunt dressed as Sonny, in mirrored sunglasses, ’70s clothing and wig, who he kept pushing away.Scott Carpenter directs as well as performs in New West Theatre’s production of Starlight. Photo by Richard Amery

They also had fun with  the Proclaimers’ “I Would Walk 500 Miles,” featuring the guys dressed in tartan pants and kilts.
 They wound down the first half of the show on a beautiful note with Erica Hunt, Ashley Thompson and Kathy Zaborsky singing ABBA’s “Fernando.”
 The rest of the cast joined them for  the Doobie Brothers’ laid back ’70s hit “Listen to the Music.”

 If the first half showcased The the cast]s goofy, humourous side, the second half was all about showcasing their voices.  They opened on a weird ’80s not as Kyle Gruninger belted out Styx’s “ Mr Roboto,” while the cast performed various iterations of the robot dance behind them
And While I’m not a Bee Gees Fan, I was justifiably impressed by the cast’s stunning a cappella medley of Bee Gees hits.

Ashely Thompson stole the second half  with an operatic duet with Rylan Kunkel of “ The Prayer.” She stood out again as she belted out “You Don’t Own Me,” from Grace.

 There was still a lot of humour in the second half of the show as the guys dressed as girls for a hilarious version of  “My Boyfriend‘s Back.”

 And Erica Hunt stood out, as always, not only with her affable humour, but her powerhouse version of Jefferson Airplane’s “ Don’t You Want Somebody to love.”
 AJ Baragar wound things down by  strutting around the stage like Mick Jagger during a Rolling Stones medley.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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