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Hootenanny and New West Theatre have summer fun with mythical creatures

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Summer means family fun in Galt Gardens with Hootenanny.

 The latest Hootenanny production “ Scout and the Rarest  Badge Ever” runs July 2-26 in the northwest corner of Galt Gardens across from the Park Place Mall.


Logan Hockley and Maddie McKee  are part of Hootenanny this summer. Photo by Richard Amery

Maddie McKee is enjoying working with puppets for her first show with Hootenanny and New West Theatre.


“I’ve always wanted to work with puppets. We have hand puppets and full body puppets,” said McKee who plays a variety of the  mythical creatures Scout is searching for.

“Scout is trying to earn his mythical creatures badge and meets a lot of mythical creatures. But he doesn't recognize them as mythical creatures because his mind is set on finding Bigfoot,” McKee said, adding he does find Bigfoot in the end.


“He expects to bring Bigfoot home with him but Bigfoot doesn't want to go. And Scout sees the value  of that,” McKee said.


Logan Hockley, who is also part of fledgling theatre company Experience Theatre, is excited to make his New West theatre debut with Hootenanny.

“ It’s an excellent opportunity for students new actors to get some experience to get some paid work as an actor,” Hockley said.

 He is enjoying playing the play’s protagonist Scout.


“Scout has finally discovers a badge he’s interested in getting when he discovers the  Mythical Creatures badge. He’s optimistic and definitely excited to complete his badge,” Hockley said.


Get ready to laugh with Shakespeare in the Park’s revisiting of Twelfth Night

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The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is revisiting Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” this summer. 


A talented cast of University of Lethbridge students, recent graduate and community members open this summer’s run of Shakespeare’s gender bending comedy, on July 4 in Galt Gardens.

Emily Laidlaw and Rachel Robinson rehearse a scene from Twelfth Night. Photo by Richard Amery

 The local Shakespeare troupe, who are entering their thirteenth year performing Shakespeare in and Around Lethbridge will be in Galt Gardens most Thursdays at 7 p.m. and outside casa most Fridays., They will also be doing their usual road trips to the Empress Theatre on Friday, July 5, plus visits to the Coutts Arts centre outside of Nanton, July 21, The Venue in High River , Saturday, July 27 and will be performing one show at Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens , Friday, Aug. 2 and in Legacy Park on Thursday, Aug. 1.


Sharon Peat, who is co-directing the show with Cole Fetting is excited to bring the comedy to the stage.

“I’ve been in the audience for years and thought their productions were wonderful. So when I retired, we had Covid, and then I got the itch to direct again,” Peat said, noting she is excited to work with Cole Fetting as co-director.

While Shakespeare in the Park has reinterpreted  previous Shakespeare productions into more modern eras, like  the  western version of a A Comedy of Errors or setting the Tempest in space or  Taming of the Shrew in the ’60s, Peat wanted to set “Twelfth Night” in a traditional Shakespeare setting.


 “I love traditional Shakespeare. There’s no cowboys or aliens in this  show. And I love that we have traditional costumes,”  she said.

“It’s about a young woman who  dresses as a man to get close to the Duke, the man she loves. And the gender confusion opens the door for shenanigans,” Peat summarized. Further comedy ensues when Maria, Dame Toby Blech, Fabian and timid Sir Andrew Agucheek played by  Shakespeare in the Park veteran Jeff Graham. aided and abetted by Feste the Fool played by Jessica Ng, play a trick on the pompous puritan Malvolio played by  U of L professor John Poulsen.


 The cast includes some familiar faces as well as some new ones.

 Emily Laidlaw is excited to explore her comedic side after playing some eclectic roles in her past two Shakespeare Performance Society shows. Her role in last year’s  production of  Taming of the Shrew was comedic, but Viola is the most comedic role she has played with the troupe.


“I always wanted to do Shakespeare and this was an excellent opportunity to do community theatre,” said Laidlaw, who plays Viola in “ A Twelfth Night.”

“Viola is in a shipwreck where she thinks her brother dies. She dresses up as a man to get close to Duke Orsino. She goes through a lot of internal processes in order to survive,” she said adding  this role is a contrast to her first role with The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society as Queen Gertrude— Hamlet’s mother.

“Gertrude has a lot of very serious qualities. She’s more sinister. Viola is a more comedic character. So it’s been great to play with that comedy,” Laidlaw said, adding she hopes audience will respond to Viola’s positivity.

“She’s a perfect character that embodies hope. And everybody needs hope,” she said.


 Producer Kate Connolly noted it is a happy coincidence that  the troupe is  revisiting A Twelfth Night 10 years after they performed the comedy the first time, so she was ecstatic when Sharon Peat and Cole Fetting brought the play to the board.

“ We put out a call for  directors and the board made a short list of five to examine,” she said.


Comedian Derek Edwards promises big bag of silly for In Praise of the Ostrich tour in Lethbridge this week

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Timmins born, Toronto based comedian Derek Edwards promises “ a big bag of silly,” when he returns to the Yates Memorial Theatre, Sunday, June 9 as part of  his new “In Praise of the Ostrich,” tour.

“There is so much bad stuff in the news, I just like to stick my head in the sand. Because ignorance is bliss,” Edwards said of naming the new tour. “ In Praise of the Ostrich.


He hopes his show will take people away from  the bad news for 90 minutes.


Comedian Derek Edwards returns to Lethbridge June 9. Photo submitted

“It’s mostly new material. And psychologically it helps to escape the bad news. I know it helps me to do  shows,” said Edwards, who has been called the funniest  man in Canada by numerous news organizations and renown comedians including Rick Mercer.


 The show includes  Edwards deadpan delivery of observances of modern life including commentaries on the influx of pot stores, self-driving cars, gambling tips, the challenge of staying youthful and dressing warm.

“My  show is just a big bag of silly. So far , so good,” he laughed. 


 While he is proud to be from Timmins, he hasn’t performed there for a few years.


“ When you’re driving  for eight hours, the weather is a fact. It’s rocks and trees and a little bit of blue. But they have a comedy festival there now. I said I’d perform there if I could open for my friend Mike Winfield, who is a comedian who has performed all over the world,” he said.


New West Theatre has something for everyone in thirty-sixth season

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Coming off a record breaking season, New West is excited to present another eclectic season this year.

 This season really does have something for everyone,” said New West Theatre Artistic Director Kelly Reay.


Kelly Reay announces New West Theatre’s new season. Photo by Richard Amery

The first official show of the season is a music comedy revue “ Totally ’80s,” which is a tribute to the music and styles of the ’80s.

 “We’ve never fully explored  the ’80s before in our music comedy  revues. There are a lot of young families and professionals who will be really interested in that show,” Reay said.

The show runs  Aug. 7-24.


 But there are a couple New West Theatre adjacent shows happening before that.

 Up first, get all shook up with A Tribute to Elvis,” starring Matt Cage.

“ He played Elvis during the Million Dollar Quartet. Tickets are selling really fast for that show. It was a nice opportunity to bring him back,” Reay said.

 That show is happening for two nights only, June  22 and 23 at the Yates Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Each night.

 Then, Hootenanny returns to Galt Gardens with a new  original theatre for Young Audiences show  “Scout and the Rarest Badge Ever,” written and  directed  by Hootenanny veteran Ahona Sanyal.


“ That’s a great story ,” Reay said, adding part of New West Theatre’s  goals is developing up and coming young artists.

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