SETTING THE SCENE - Artistic director of Cow Patti Theatre AnnaMarie Lea is joined by her husband, Tom, technical director, producing partner and set-builder, in this file photo from a show presented last season. Cow Patti promises more of the fun and entertaining, quality theatre this upcoming season that supporters have come to expect from the talented troupe. Lacombe Express file photo

Cow Patti Theatre Company gearing up for new season

Much to look forward to from the talented local troupe

Cow Patti Theatre Company is heading into its 21st season, which promises to feature the tried and true, tremendously funny comedies with lots of heart that audiences have come to so appreciate over the years.

Performances run at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club.

“I am constantly trying to switch things up and consistently offer up shows that are unique and pleasing to our wide range of audience members,” said AnnaMarie Lea, Cow Patti’s artistic director and founder.

“The common denominator and what I think has brought Cow Patti success is bringing shows to our audiences that are fun, that are enlightening – and that leave people as they walk out the door with a good feeling,” she said.

“I stick to shows that have humour and heart,” she said, adding that it takes plenty of skill and talent for actors to convincingly pull off a winning comic performance.

“To be able to lift people out of their everyday lives and to take them to a place where they can just let their imaginations go and walk away from their everyday problems – it’s a challenge and something I love to do whether I’m onstage or off-stage,” added Lea, who besides her exceptional skills as a director is also an accomplished actor as well.

“It’s the best feeling that we can give that – what a gift to be able to give that to people.”

First up this season is The Christmas Express which opens Nov. 5th with shows running through to Dec. 23rd.

Penned by Pat Cook, the story is set in the Holly Railroad Station in small town Canada during the 1950s.

“It tells the tale of 10 people’s lives that come together on December 23rd and during this chance encounter, the hopes and dreams of this small town are embraced through comedy, dance and song,” she said.

“The Corner Gas meets Christmas Carol characters are an actor’s dream – it’s a show full of funny, wise-cracking, eccentric small town characters who are trying to find the true wonder of Christmas.

“When I first read The Christmas Express, I was taken in by the story’s funny and enduring message of hope.”

Lea said that although it’s a relatively simple story, “These are real people, in real time in days gone by, but they still carry the same wants and desires as we do in 2017.

“Things haven’t changed that much in regards to having hope, wanting value, wanting to succeed,” she explained. “The characters are so well-written and defined, and yet they leave a lot of room for exploring and really creating.”

The Christmas Express features a cast of 10 – the first time Cow Patti has produced a show with that large of a cast, added Lea, who is acting in and directing the show as well.

Meanwhile, back this season are Wing Wednesdays, senior brunch discounts, benefit shows, prime rib evenings, brunches and new this season: ‘Coffee and Cannoli Thursdays’.

Lea also pointed out that the actors for The Christmas Express come from across the nation – a kind of tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday which of course is being celebrated this year.

“I feel it is important to offer a show that will take Cow Patti to a new level in entertainment while celebrating these Canadian values,” she said, adding that a huge part of the troupe’s mandate is to provide opportunities for Canadian talent.

So along with audience favourites including herself, Brian Young, Allan Cook, Susan Greenfield, Valerie Barrett, and Linda Goranson, they are also introducing four new actors who will debut on the Cow Patti stage with The Christmas Express – Claira Lea, Stephanie Folkins, Tom Mifflin and Ken Robertson.

There will be a whopping 35 performances of The Christmas Express with prime rib buffets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Christmas Express is a show for the young and old alike, and we are looking forward to entertaining our varied crowds with a warm setting, awesome food and top-notch talent and price points pleasing to the pocket book.”

The second production of the coming season is Norm Foster’s Here on the Flight Path, which opens Feb. 4th, 2018.

Cow Patti also supports a number of local agencies and charities through benefit shows – over the past 20 seasons, they’ve raised more than half a million dollars to that end.

Organizations benefiting from particular presentations of the The Christmas Express include Kasota East Camp, The Medicine River Wildlife Centre, Caroline Seniors, the Clive Resource Centre and Friends of the Library and the Lending Cupboard in Red Deer.

For more information about the productions or tickets, check out www.cowpatti.com or call 403-304-6329 or 403-782-3956.

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