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New West Theatre

Company in Lethbridge, Alberta, founded in 1990. The first artistic director was Brian C. Parkinson, a professor of theatre and dramatic arts at the University of Lethbridge.

Parkinson was the founding director of the Great West Summer Theatre Fort Macleod, Alberta, and served as the artistic director there for seven years. In May 1990, he moved the Company's operations and performers to Lethbridge in order to accommodate the rapidly growing audience base and to continue a tradition of producing high quality, high energy, original musical comedy revues. Since legal ownership of the Great West Summer Theatre name rested with the Fort Macleod Historic Area Society, the New West Theatre Society was formed to allow Parkinson and the Company to continue producing.

The Company's summer seasons draw upwards of 15,000 each over an eight week season. An annual tradition of Christmas productions was begun in 1991. Company tours have travelled throughout British Columbia and Alberta. The company expanded both its operations and its staff, and in 1993 produced seven productions as it experimented with year round operations.

In 1995 New West expanded again, adding the Festival Company for the production of non-musical dramatic works. In 1996, the Company performed at the Alberta Winter Games and in the summer of 1996 toured to Kelowna, B.C. as well as presenting two major productions for Lethbridge. 1996 also saw the addition of the Young New West Theatre company to create and perform original versions of children's classics at Christmas time. It also operates a theatre school.

New West is the only professional theatre company south of Calgary. It performs in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre in the Yates Memorial Centre.

Recent productions include: Harvest by Ken Cameron (2014); Routes by Collin Doyle (2013); The Drawer Boy (2009). Parkinson and members of New West Theatre have also developed many original musicals, including; Doin' it Right! (1998); The All Night Strut!, conceived by Fran Charnas (dir. Parkinson, 1998); Snow Business (1997); Rock 'n' Roll is King (1996); A Mad Summer's Night's Dream! (1992); ALL SHOOK UP! - Shake Rattle & Roll II (1990).

Other Canadian works include: Wrong For Each Other by Norm Foster (directed by Warren Graves, 1998); Forever Plaid by Stuart Ross (dir. Parkinson, 1997); The Mumberley Inheritance by Warren Graves (dir. by the author, 1996); The Melville Boys by Norm Foster (dir. Bill Marsh, 1995); and Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii by Allan Stratton (dir. Kelly Frewin, 1995).

Parkinson was Artistic Director until 2008, followed by Nicholas Hanson (2008-12), Jeremy Mason (2012-15), and Sharon Peat (2016-2020). The current AD is Kelly Reay.

Website: www.newwesttheatre.com

Information provided by Brian Parkinson.

Last updated 2021-07-08