January 18th, 2021

Buckle up and enjoy the hits

By Lethbridge Herald on August 11, 2020.

The cast of New West Theatre's "LIVE! At the Drive-In" including Erica Hunt, Scott Mezei on guitar, Katie Fellger, Kyle Gruninger and Rylan Kunkel on sax, run through a number ahead of this week's performances at Exhibition Park. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald
Are you ready to Rock Around the Clock?
Those wishing to harken back to the golden age of rock n’ roll and the sock hops that came with it can get a blast from the past from the comfort of their vehicles as New West Theatre presents “­Live! At The Drive-In” starting tonight and running until Sunday at the Exhibition Park.
The production — starring Scot Carpenter, Erica Hunt, Kyle Gruninger, Kathy Zaborsky, Rylan Kunkel, Katie Fellger, Keenan Pezderic and Scott Mezei — features hits from the top artists of the 1950s and ’60s including The Everly Brothers, The Four Seasons, Connie Francis and the Beach Boys.
However, “Live! At The Drive-In” comes with a twist, and not just the popular ’50’s dance.
In keeping with COVID-19 protocols those taking in the performances over the five days will watch from the safety of their vehicles.
Onstage, the actors will also perform with pandemic regulations in mind, keeping six feet apart as New West Theatre stages the first drive-in performance in its 31-year history.
Still, “Live! At The Drive-In” — presented by Stringam LLP — will deliver the hits right into the driver’s seat.
“We have a standard New West show, but set in the ’50s outdoors,” said Zaborsky, also the musical director for New West Theatre. “People are driving in their cars and they’re going to listen over an FM frequency. So they’re going to hear us on the radio and they’re going to see us on big screens. It’s going to be fantastic. It’s all ’50’s music and hits. We’ve got a lot of medleys, so we hit a lot of songs in the show. It’s an hour and a half, but we pack it full of hits.”
In the time of COVID-19, nothing heals like some live music.
“It’s been amazing,” said Zaborsky. “The music is so nostalgic and because everybody’s lives have been upended by what we’re going through, to come together and sing has been one of the most healing things for all of us and hopefully for the audience when they come and see us.”
A performing veteran, this week’s run of shows in front of over 100 parked cars will be new for Gruninger.
“I’ve never done something like this before,” he said. “I’ve never performed to a bunch of vehicles with no audience in the middle of a pandemic.
“But what I’m really excited about is to give some energy, some music and some life to the community and to the people in their cars who haven’t gotten to see live music. It’s the most important, it’s why we do this. This is our job during this whole pandemic, to provide entertainment and a little bit of laughter and music. Music heals all.”
Tickets are $80 per car or $40 for a vehicle of one person and can be purchased at http://www.newwesttheatre.com.
Tickets can also be purchased at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca or by calling (403) 329-7328 (SEAT).
New West Theatre artistic director Kelly Reay said the maximum capacity is 150 vehicles.
Cars will be parked 10 feet apart in keeping with distancing protocols.
“We’ve been really diligent about following Alberta Health Services guidelines,” said Reay. “I think an event like this will have lots of eyes on it, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything right.”
Washrooms will be available on site during the performances.
Ticket holders can bring their own snacks, but will also get a complimentary bottle of water.
Popcorn, courtesy of the Movie Mill, will also be available, but must be pre-ordered with the ticket through http://www.newwesttheatre.com.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
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