By Lethbridge Herald on July 2, 2017.
How do you decide?
Bryan Adams or Stompin’ Tom?
Guess Who or Great Big Sea? Alanis Morissette or Anne Murray?
That was the challenge for New West Theatre producers this spring, as they prepared for this summer’s musical reviews. “Homegrown,” helping celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, opens Wednesday at the Yates Centre.
And it’s overflowing with Canadian hits proven by the test of time.
“This show could be hundreds of hours long,” says director Sharon Peat — if she’d included songs from every notable Canadian performer.
“The amount of really incredible music we have in this country” proved a formidable challenge.
So in true Canadian style, the selection process went to a committee. Peat says she and the show’s three musical arrangers — musician Scott Mezei, vocal captain Kathy Zaborsky and band leader Paul Walker — each drew up their own list.
While some choices proved unanimous, Peat says, others were debated.
Adding to the fun, she says, is the trio of guest artists lined up for “Homegrown.”
John Wort Hannam (playing during opening week, July 5-8), Jason Poulsen (July 12-15) and Trevor Panczak (July 19-22) each bring their own songs. Each is becoming better-known across Canada, Peat notes.
“I think it’s wonderful that we have an opportunity to show off some of the (musicians) who are working here in our midst,” she says.
They’ll be joining veteran New West performers Scott Carpenter, Kyle Gruninger, Erica Hunt and Zaborsky, along with more recent arrivals Al Baragar, Rylan Kunkel and Shelby Wilson.
Wilson, just graduated from the University of Lethbridge, is looking forward to her third opening night with New West.
“Every show is different,” she says, though the mix is familiar — music, choreography and comedy. “There’s such a variety,” and this time she’s ready to present one of Joni Mitchell’s greatest hits.
While she was raised in Calgary, Wilson says one of the advantages of studying at the U of L is the opportunity to audition for a theatre company as well-known and respected as New West.
As for Peat, she’s thankful the Yates renovation schedule was drawn up to allow New West to stage this show and the next — “Barn Dance,” from Aug. 8 to 26 — in a familiar space. Work on some of the biggest upgrades will begin soon after.
As a 150-year bonus, she adds, each New West show this summer will add an element of excitement and suspense. The winner of each day’s 50/50 draw will be invited to draw a card. If it’s the ace of spades, for example, there will be a bonus prize of $1,500.
If not, the drawn card is discarded — making the odds of winning better, show after show.
In addition to evening performances at 7:30 p.m., “Homegrown” will feature matinees (1 p.m.) on July 8, 15 and 22. Advance tickets for all performances are available online from http://www.newwesttheatre.com or by phone at 403-329-2616, or at the Yates box office on weekdays.
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