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New West Theatre at home in the Yates Theatre exploring “Decades”

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It’s good to be home after what seems like “Decades” thanks to Covid. So New West Theatre is celebrating being back at home in the Yates Theatre with a new variety show exploring the  the past eight  “Decades” of music and fashion from the 

New West Theatre’s Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter and Madisan Cowan  rehearse It’s Got to be Rock and Roll if you want to Dance With me” for Decades. Photo By Richard Amery

1950s to today featuring lots of comedy, impersonations and music from Smokey to Sia from the 1950s to  the 2000s


 Due to Covid, New West has had to improvise to put on their big summer variety shows. They did a drive In show two years ago at Exhibition Park and were part of one of the outdoor festivals last summer.


 This time they are back in the Yates Theatre for “Decades,” which runs Aug. 10-27.


“It’ll be a big old party,” summarized director and musical director Kathy Zaborsky, who had a lot of fun choosing the music for the show.

 As usual, they had a three week turnaround to develop , rehearse and prepare the show  


“It’s a celebration of all of the events, music and costumes from the decades 1950 to the 2020s,” Zaborsky continued, adding she is excited to direct her first big New West Theatre show, though she has directed performances for local groups like Theatré Outré.


“ I looked at lists on the Internet of the best songs from each decade and made a list of 500 and whittled it down to the songs I thought would best suit each performer,” she said, noting most of the show is all new material. 


“Most of the show is all new. We’ve probably done the Bee Gees before, but it’s definitely reimagined,” said Erica Hunt, long time New West member.


“ The show is all ages. It is family friendly, for people aged 0 to 110,” said Zaborsky.


There will be a lot of comedy and a lot of impressions performed by New West veterans Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter and Kyle Gruninger as well as some familiar faces from a few shows back including Alinafe Lupiway and Ashley Thomson, relative new regulars like Katie Fellger and brand new talent Madisan Cowan.


They are backed by a crack band including two thirds of local funk band Adequate– Scott Mezei playing guitar and drummer Keenan Pezderic plus bassist Greg Paskuski and Kathy Zaborsky playing keyboards.


“ Madisan grew up in New West Theatre because her mother Vanessa did choreography for us for some of our early shows. So I remember her dancing along in the wings. She’s a huge talent,” reminisced Erica Hunt, who is excited to be back on the Yates Theatre stage.


“ I’m really excited about it,” she said, adding she is just as excited about the music and comedy as she is about the costumes.


“ It’s a fashion show. And some of the pieces are actually from those eras. People will be saying ‘I recognize those boots’ or ‘ I have that belt,”’ Hunt continued, praising the back stage crew including costume designer Teresa Rayburn,  set designer  Jim Wills, lighting designer Robber Stanford and sound designer Jason Eveleigh.


“ My favourite part is Erica Hunt performing Sia’s ‘Chandeliers,’ but it’s a comedy piece,” said Scott Carpenter.


New West Theatre’s Ashley Thomson rehearses It’s Got to be Rock and Roll if you want to Dance With me” for Decades. Photo By Richard Amery

Hunt noted she and Scott Carpenter performed the Sia song at a cabaret, but Kathy Zaborsky decided to reimagine it for “Decades.”


“ There’s a lot of impersonations. Some of them aren’t funny, they’re that’s what it is like David Bowie and Madonna. But others like the Bee Gees, are comedic,” Hunt said.


Alinafe Lupiway is excited to be back with New West Theatre.


“It’s been about eight years since I’ve performed with New West. It’s such a great feeling. Everyone is so supportive. And I love what Kathy Zaborsky has done,” Lupiway said, adding he is most excited to deliver his Smokey Robinson impersonation.


“I’m excited to sing “ Tears of A Clown,” he enthused.


 Some of the songs are not what you’d expect. “Still of the Night ” is not the Whitesnake ’80s hit, but the five Satins’ 1956 original.

“There are a couple songs like that. When we decided to do ‘Express Yourself,” Keenan said ‘great, our band already does that song. And I asked him ‘You perform Madonna?’” Hunt related, that is a different song. Some of the songs in the show like Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” which first charted in the  ’80s , have a second life today thanks to TV shows like “Stranger Things.”


 Some of them, like their version of Dead or Alive’s “ You Spin Me Right Round,” just call out for a comedic interpretation.


“ It’s going to be fun to pay tribute to each of these decades. Because music brings people together,” Lupiway summarized.

New West Theatre’s summer production of “Decades” runs at the Yates Theatre, Aug. 10-27.


 Tickets are available  by phoning 403-329-SEAT(7328), online at or in person at the box office.

— by RichardAmery, L.A. Beat Editor

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