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Comedian looks on the bright side of the downturn

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Montreal based comedian Lorne Elliott, a mainstay on the Canadian comedy scene for close to 30 years, is looking on the ‘bright side of the downturn’ for his new  one man show, which comes to the University of Lethbridge Theatre, April 12.
“Laughter is the best escape. But this show is not so much an escape as it is a chance to get above it so you can go into the next day with a more positive attitude,” said Lorne Elliott is at the University Theatre, April 12.Elliott from his farm outside of Montreal.
He will be performing several shows in a row including  April 13 in Medicine Hat, April 15 in Red Deer,  then Airdrie, Bragg Creek  and Golden right in a row.
“Since I had my heart attack, I’ve had to slow down,” said Elliott , known for his big hair, manic personality and mini-stratocaster.
“I’ll be bringing that  and I’ll also be playing some Jimi Hendrix on the ukulele,” he said adding the secret to  his longevity on the comedy scene is to always pay attention and keep working.
“Most of my jokes start with something that actually happened to me. You want to always start with something people can identify with. Like in Lethbridge, the wind. Everybody knows that. I was in Fort Macleod and I had a joke about  the wind farms . You wouldn’t want to hang glide through them,” he continued.

Life’s a Dream at the University of Lethbridge

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Life really is a dream for director Richard Epp, who can’t wait for the curtain to open on March 23 for the debut of Pedro Calderon do la Barca’s 1635 masterpiece, ‘Life’s a Dream.’
Margaret Rodgers (Rosaura) and Mike Sanger (Astolfo) rehearse Life’s A Dream. Photo by Richard Amery“It’s one of these plays a director waits his whole life to direct ,”  enthused Epp.
“And I’m finally going to do it,” he added.
 ‘Life’s a Dream’ is about a Polish king who has his infant son imprisoned, after fearing an omen that his son is going to kill him. Then, fearing he will be heirless, releases the son and makes him king for a day.

“The prince is brought to the palace where he’s a disastrous king, so he’s told that he’s been dreaming and is sent back to prison,” Epp summarized, adding he has seen the play performed a couple times.
“You usually have to travel a long way to see it,” he said.
“There’s a great set, lots of action and rich characters,” Epp said, describing the play as being very exciting with both dramatic and  comedic moments as well as a sword fight.
“When people think of the Renaissance, they usually think of Shakespeare, but the Spanish had their own style,” he said.
“As a director I approached it as bringing an old play forward into the twenty-first century so there are a lot of lights and special effects.”
 He said Pedro Calderon de la Barca was a prominent playwright of Spain’s Golden Age.

Written around 1635, Calderon was as well known and respected in Renaissance Spain as Shakespeare was in England. ‘Life’s a Dream’ is a great old masterpiece that has entertained audiences the world over for nearly 400 years.


New West puts on fine production of Three Fine Girls

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What is is about returning to the family home that makes one revert to  one's childhood family dynamic?
 That is the situation in New West Theatre’s new production of The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls where three sisters, eldest Jojo (played by Erica Hunt), middle sister Jayne (played by Lesley Galbecka) who return to their family home  where youngest sister Jelly (Meghan Porteous) has been taking care of their dying dad.Lesley Galbecka, Erica Hunt and Meghan Porteous are Three Fine Girls. Photo by Richard Amery

Though Jojo and Jayne are stars in their professional fields as a professor and high powered banker respectively, it doesn’t take long for them to revert to their childhoods, fighting with each other, saying spiteful things to each other, dredging up the baggage from the past while trying to set up one last big party in memory of their father.
 Erica Hunt is at her loud, brash best who is also kind of scary when she brandishes a huge cake knife.

Lesley Galbecka makes a fine hyper-competitive, drunk middle sister with a secret. The two of them mercilessly bully aspiring artist Jelly, when they notice her at all, but also care for their younger sister like surrogate parents. Porteous, who was just as hyperactive and appealingly childlike in Munsch Time, is a marvel, being able to switch from hyperactive to heart-wrenching in the span of a sentence.The girls not only deliver their lines impeccably and play off each other perfectly they also bond and scrape on stage like actual sisters. And while the fight scenes are  particularly fierce, they also include a fair amount of humour.


Characters make Unidentified Human Remains

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If beat poet/writer William Burroughs and Douglas Coupland were to write an episode of ‘Friends,’ the result might come out like Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.
The TheatreXtra Production of the Brad Fraser play, which premiered at the David Spinks Theatre last night, is the darker, more disturbed and damaged version of the beloved television characters.
 They listen to Nirvana, take  Andrea Montgomery and Jay Whitehead. photo by Richard Amerydrugs, experiment with their sexuality and try to figure out who they are and who to love while a serial killer runs amok in Edmonton in the early ’90s. A killer who may be among them.
 Jay Whitehead heads a talented cast as David, who sets the tone for a play about friendship in a pretty dark setting — one marked by AIDS, depression and the serial killer, with the first line  of the play “Hello , I’m homo,” which started the audience laughing.
 It’s a weird  play, which could easily turn into a train wreck without the cast’s impeccable comedic and dramatic timing. The characters sit still on the stage, and  emit adjectives and phrases like “Everybody Lies,”  and “Love doesn’t exist,’ as a spotlight shines on them  and  the individual set pieces including a bar and a restaurant table as fast as they can speak.
 David is a failed actor turned  waiter and ‘professional faggot,’ he is droll, sarcastic, outspoken and kind of sinister, but can break any tense situation with an unusual and hilarious remark, which almost always comes right out of left field. he reminds me of Dave Foley’s character in ‘Blast From the Past.’
Up on the balcony lurks, Benita , played by a Lindie Last, who is a psychic, and possibly a prostitute who sings sinister children’s songs and explains the background of the situation.
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