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U of L students reimagine Alice in Wonderland

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University of Lethbridge students add a little twenty-first century panache to Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s story Alice In Wonderland, with their new production happening in theDan Perryman is in the U of L production of Alice, Feb. 12-16 at the David Spinks Theatre. photo by Richard Amery David Spinks Theatre, Feb. 12-16.

“It isn’t about plot, it’s about experiencing a dream world,” said director Mia Van Leeuwen.

“Alice: A Devised adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland” is described as “an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's fantastical masterpiece that explores the puzzling journey of Alice through performing objects, movement and mask. The work will be created through a devised theatre process that reconsiders all the main characters with a focus on the surrealistic dimensions of Wonderland. ”
Students created the show based on Lewis Carroll’s original story.

“We didn’t have a script,” said Van Leeuwen, noting the roots of the production come from her immersive theatre class, which began back in September. The 22 member cast have been in active production of the show since January.

“It’s the students’ adaptation of the original story and characters,” she said the show is episodic like the book is so the students play multiple roles throughout the show.

“Some are solo roles, others are four people or  group numbers. Some include the who cast,” she said.
“It’s lots of fun,” she said.


Optimism explored in Candide with Lethbridge Opera Workshop and Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra

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You may remember  Hunter Semrau for his spirited portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis.
in New West Theatre’s production of the Million Dollar Quartet in September. But expect  to see a completely different character this weekend, Feb. 8 and 9 at Southminster United Church as he plays the title role of Candide in The University of Lethbridge Opera Workshop Hunter Semrau plays the title character in Candide. Photo by Richard Ameryand Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra’s annual collaboration.

“They’re two completely different characters. Jerry Lee Lewis was a bit of a jerk and really full of himself. Candide is a caricature of the most honest self, purity and niceness,” Semrau described, noting  playing Jerry Lee Lewis was a departure for him as his major is opera performance.
“I love musical theatre too, but this is what I’m studying,” he said adding Candide is an interesting, relentlessly optimistic character.
“He (Voltaire) was making fun of  the way other philosophers looked at how mankind viewed how everything works out for the best,” he said.

“ He remains optimistic no matter what happens to him,” he continued adding a lot happens to Candide, who is flogged, gets kidnapped by the Spanish Inquisition and gets shipwrecked after being taken in by a con man who sells him a leaky boat. On top of that, he is in love with a woman who is not only a thief, but a selfish grifter.

“He’s in love with Cunegonde but while they’re separated she ends up being greedy, graspy and selfish. She gets close to men in order to separate them from their money,” he continued.

He is excited to be part of the  production and backed by the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra.


New West breaks out the rock side of country music

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New West Theatre goes country for an unusually timed February musical-revue show.Devon Brayne brings back Johnny Cash in Rockers Gone Country. Photo by Richard Amery
 Director Jeremy Mason is excited to return to New West Theatre to direct Rockers Gone Country, Feb. 6-23 at the Yates Theatre.

“ It’s definitely a country show, but it’s country with a rock influence. Everybody will find something  to enjoy about this, even of they don”t classify themselves as a country fan,” Mason said.

 “Each of the artists have had some crossover success,” Mason continued.
“ A lot of country has a rock influence,” he continued, adding musicians featured include Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, The Dixie Chicks and even Roy Orbison. Plus much more.

“ We ’re also doing things like “Blue Moon of Kentucky, but  John Fogerty’s version of it. And We’re doing Jon Bon Jovi’s  “Blaze of Glory,” which was the theme of  the western  ‘Young Guns,”mason said.

 New West welcomes back some familiar faces including Kyle Gruninger, Scott Carpenter, Rylan Kunkel and  Devon Brayne, who played Johnny Cash in “Million Dollar Quartet,” and brings his Cash back to perform Cash’s interpretation of The Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor’s ’90s hit “Hurt.”
 Newcomer Bryanna Rae joins New West mainstays Erica Hunt and Kathy Zaborsky on  stage.


Auditions this month for Hatrix Theatre and Shakespeare In The Park

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If you feel the urge to get on stage, auditions are coming up for a couple of big productions happening in the spring and summer.

Karolyn Harker is excited to direct Neil Simon’s farce Rumours. photo by Richard Amery
 Up first, Hatrix Theatre is excited to present Neil Simon’s farce “Rumours”, set to run May 29-June 1 at a location to be determined.
 Auditions are Monday, Jan. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at Casa. Callbacks will be the next day at Casa at 7 p.m.
 The production requires a large cast of 10 to play four couples and two police officers.

“We’d like to start rehearsals right after auditions,” said director Karolyn Harker, who is excited to tackle a Neil Simon play.
“I’ve done Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite twice, once as an actor and once as a director,” she said, adding comedic timing is essential for the play to be a success.

“Neil Simon died last year at age 91. He grew up in a home with a lot of marital discord so he tried to find some humour in that. He always considered Rumours to be his first actual farce,” she said.

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