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Drama taking centre stage

Posted on November 6, 2019 by Richard Amery

This week is all about the drama. Two big productions happen this week. First up, a massive collaboration between Lethbridge Musical Theatre and Chinook High School, “Newsies” is a the big welcome back of Lethbridge Musical Theatre, Nov. 1-9.
Next up, The University of Lethbridge stages Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, “Titus Andronicus,” Nov. 5-9 in the University Theatre.
There are also some hot shows happening for early November.
Barney Bentall brings his Cariboo Express back to Southminster United Church, Thursday, Nov. 7, for the Geomatic Attic. This year Barney and co-host Matt Masters will be joined by friends Wendy Bird, Leeroy Stagger, Ridley Bent, Dustin Bentall, Kirby Barber, Stephanie Cadman and the Gold Rush All Stars. This year the show is a fundraiser for Youth One. The show begins at 8 p.m.
The roots music starts early, at the Slice, Wednesday, Nov. 6, with Taber folk/musician Joshua Beebe, local roots musician Corduroy Brown (James Swinney) and local indie folk songwriter and Wendy Cee. Makiisma host the Slice’s weekly open mic at the Slice, Nov. 7. The Slice goes hard rock , Nov. 8 as they welcome back Regina stoner rock trio Black Thunder. They will be playing with Gepetto and local heavy rock band Chernoff, There is a $10 cover for the show which begins at 9 p.m.
The Owl goes punk on Friday, Nov. 8 with Edmonton’s Grizzly Trail, Calgary’s The Mörons, local pop punk band Sessions and Whitecourt’s Western Frontline.
The Lethbridge Folk club features their monthly open mic at Casa on Friday as well.
And Cal Toth and Kate LaRoque return to Average Joe’s with Dueling Pianos.
As usual, Saturday is busy. Saskatchewan folk/roots musician Ellen Froese plays the Owl Acoustic lounge, Nov. 9. Down the street, Local country/rock band the mark hall Band play the Slice.
And the Lethbridge Community Band dabbles in the blues over at College Drive Community Church with “Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blues,” Nov. 9. That show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Kids 12 and under get in for free.
The Geomatic Attic has a busy week as in addition to the Barney Bentall and Cariboo Express show Nov. 7 at the Southminster United Church, they welcome Juno Award-winning singer songwriter William Prince to the Geomatic Attic Nov. 10 with Kaia Kater. The show begins at 8 p.m. as usual. Tickets for William Prince are $35 for members and $40 for non-members.
Rudz Crew return to Casino Lethbridge to play rock and roll and country, Friday and Saturday.
Barney Bentall is excited to bring back the Grand Cariboo Express show to Southminster United Church for a special Geomatic Attic show Nov. 7.
“We’re thinking of alternating years between Fort Macleod (where they played the Empress Theatre last year) and Lethbridge, because the Fort Macleod show was so much fun. It’s a wonderful theatre,” observed Bentall from Vancouver, getting ready to rehearse with a motley crew of talent in Calgary, before opening the tour there, Nov. 1.
“I guess we’ll figure out what we’re doing during rehearsal. Everyone rehearses on their own,” said Bentall, who has assembled a steady stable of talent mover the past 14 years, though the lineup changes slightly every year and sometimes every show. This year Barney and co-host Matt Masters will be joined by friends Wendy Bird, Leeroy Stagger, Ridley Bent, Dustin Bentall, Kirby Barber, Stephanie Cadman and the Gold Rush All Stars. Usually they show is a fundraiser for a local charity. This year, Bentall and the Cariboo Express are lending a hand to Youth One.
“This year the shows are half and half. When we do a show for charity it means a lot more script writing for Matt (Masters, co-host) and I because it is set up like the Grand Ole Opry where each song is sponsored and we introduce each one,” he said, adding they have fun with that aspect of it.
“For example, If a law firm sponsors a song, then we have fun with that and make a joke,” he said.
“Leeroy can’t do the whole tour with us this time, but he will be playing the Lethbridge show. And my son, Dustin, is coming with us on this tour. And Mariel Buckley will be with us for the Calgary show,” Bentall said, noting each artist gets to play their own song or the cover of their choice and can ask the other musicians to join in if they wish
“Some songs, like Ridley Bent’s ‘Suicidewinder,’ we wouldn’t think of doing a show without playing it,” he said.
Bentall, who shot to fame in the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits “Life Could Be Worse” and “Something To Live For.” He released a new CD, “The Drifter and the Preacher,” two years ago .
“It was still new last year when we toured with the Express. This year, I think I’ll dig deeper into the legendary Hearts catalogue. I wrote a song with Bruce Cockburn called ‘Atikokan Annie,’ so I might play it. Dustin brought a really cool Dion and the Belmonts cover,” he continued.
“We’re always open to new material.”
“And it’s a really wonderful feeling to play with a 12-piece band,” he added.
Bentall is looking forward to playing for the Geomatic Attic again.
“Mike Spencer is doing a really wonderful thing in the community. So I’m excited to get back out there and play. Usually we start the tour in Lethbridge, but we’ll be midway through the tour by the time we get to Lethbridge this year, so we’ll be really warmed up,” Bentall said.
Tickets are $45 for the show, which begins at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7.
Saskatoon-area musician Ellen Froese is excited to release her first solo full band album “Fightin’ Words,” Nov. 1.
Lethbridge gets a double dose of Froese when she brings her band the Hot Toddies (drummer /vocalist Dylan Cooper; bassist/vocalist Emmett Fortosky and electric guitarist Matt Joyal) to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Saturday, Nov. 9, in the middle of a month long tour taking her to Ottawa and back.. She plays Lethbridge again, playing a solo show with Kacy and Clayton at the Geomatic Attic, Dec. 8. She is also playing Twin Butte Store, Nov. 8.
She has released a couple of albums with her bluegrass band In with the Old, and a full-length , more folk solo album.
The new album is a lot different.
“There’s a lot of ’60s and ’70s-style pop, and some traditional country, a couple of ballads. It’s a groovy, fun record,” said Froese, taking a quick break from helping out on her parents’ dairy farm.
She recorded the album at Saskatoon studio Ghettobox Studio with Jill Mack.
“She’s a good friend. I used her on the last album,” she said, adding Kacy Anderson from the duo Kacy and Clayton produced the album.
“That was great. She has a great ear and could tell my band what to do so i didn’t have to,” she chuckled.
She had a lot of ideas I never would have thought of. I had a song that was more of a laidback tropical feel and she turned it into a punk song,” she said, noting song lyrics are about her life..
“ I write about working on the farm and relationships. Have a song called Charlie, about a horse that dies in the Frank’s Slide,” she noted.
Admission is by donation. the show begins at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9.

Lethbridge Musical Theatre is back after a five-year hiatus with a massive collaborative production of “Newsies,” happening at the Yates Theatre, Nov. 1-9.
Lethbridge Musical Theatre teamed up with Chinook High School students and their teacher Dave Mikuliak, who directs the 60-member cast.
“It’s a massive production. It’s a large show.It has big energy, And it’s a joyful show, so if you want to be entertained, come to the Yates Theatre. Because we’d love you to see ‘Newsies,’” Mikuliak said.
“Newsies” allows the actors to really explore all three of the triple-threat skills — singing, acting, and especially dancing.
Mikuliak chose his cast after auditions in June. He is especially pleased with how well it has come together.
“It’s gone really well. Everyone has really gelled,” he said, adding the 30 students have been working well with the 30 community members.
“They’ve really learned a lot. It’s been really reciprocal between my students and the more experienced community members. It’s really been inspiring,” he enthused.
Chinook High School teacher Alisha Hornberger has developed a lot of dance choreography for the production.
“There are six of my own students in the production, but almost everyone has had to learn to tap dance from scratch,” she said.
“And my sister Hillary has co-choreographed it with me. She has extensive theatre experience,” she added.
“It has been exciting to watch students who were not comfortable with dancing or nervous about dancing, learn to dance,” Mikuliak added.
“Newsies” is inspired by the 1899 newsboys’ strike in New York City, but it touches on a lot of social issues.
“It’s based on a historical event at the beginning of the twentieth century. it was the beginning of unions and workers rights and women’s rights, he said.
The story is about Jack Kelly, who leads a newsboys’ strike against newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer.
“But there is a love story too as Jack falls in love with Jospeh Pulitzer’s daughter, who is a journalist at the paper, which was really rare then,” Mikuliak continued.
Getting to play the lead of Katherine is a “dream come true” for third-year University of Lethbridge sciences student Nicole Furlan.
“I remember I drove to New York City in 2012 or so and we saw that show and I fell in love with it. It was my dream to be part of it. I never expected it be the lead, I was just hoping for a small a part in it,” Furlan enthused.
Shows began Nov. 1 and continue 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. at the Yates. There will also be a matinee at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9.
Tickets are $22.50 for students and seniors and $27.50 for adults, and can be purchased at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca or at 403-329-7328. Tickets can also be purchased in person at The Enmax Centre or The Yates box offices.
The University of Lethbridge brings William Shakespeare’s bloodiest play to the University Theatre stage, Nov. 5-9.
“Titus Andronicus” features more than two dozen cast members performing an abridged version of the play, which is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
“Theres a lot of people who die violently and other violent acts,” said director Jay Whitehead, coming off a successful sold-out run of Theatre Outré’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
“This is the first time I’ve directed Shakespeare. I’m more of a contemporary theatre guy,” Whitehead continued.
U of L faculty member Justin Blum cuts the original in half with the abridged version.
“We’ve cut it down to the core. So it will be more accessible to audiences,” he continued, adding, the play has been set in a contemporary, near future world.
“It’s definitely a tragedy, but we’ve brought out the lighter moments,” Whitehead said.
“Titus Andronicus” is set during the latter days of the Roman Empire and tells the fictional story of Titus, a general in the Roman army, who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. It is Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most violent work.
“It’s about a Roman general who returns home after a 10-year war against the Goths. He’s given up power to marry his enemy’s daughter, so his enemy decided to hurt Titus by hurting his daughter,” said Zoe Bracken, who plays Titus Andronicus.
“His motivation is revenge and his love for his family and honour to his country,” said Bracken.
Tickets are $18 regular, $13 senior and alumni, $12 student. The show begins at7:30 p.m. Nov. 5-9.

November 6
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Joshua Beebe and the Forest Orchestra with Corduroy Brown and Wendy Cee
November 7
Slice — open Mic with makiisma
Good Time — Comedy open mic
Southminster United Church — Geomatic Attic Barney Bentall and the Grand Cariboo Express $45 8 p.m.
November 8
Average Joe’s — Dueling Pianos with Cal Toth and Kate LaRoque
Casa — Lethbridge Folk Club Open mic $5
Slice — Black Thunder with Gepetto and Chernoff
Honker”s Pub — open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Rudz Crew
November 9
Good Times — Cedric Newman 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Slice — Mark Hall band
Casino Lethbridge — Rudz Crew
November 10
Geomatic Attic — William Prince $25-$40
November 12
Slice — A Slice of blues jam with Keith Woodrow
November 13
Slice — Windy City Opry wth Zachary Lucky
Beaches — Open mic
November 14
Slice — Danny Laj and the Looks with Global acid Reset and Bomb Hugg
November 15
Good Times — Wendy Colby
Slice — The Orchard before the afternoon tour withHockey Moms, RiverJacks and mombod
Casino Lethbridge — Uncovered
Honker’s Pub — open mic
November 13
Slice — Windy City Opry wth Zachary Lucky
Beaches — Open mic
November 14
Slice — Danny Laj and the Looks with Global Acid Reset and Bomb Hugg

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