My new Stage West Calgary newsletter – AKA what I did on Mailchimp this morning   Leave a comment

It’s cold outside – come in for a laugh!  “Unnecessary Farce” is getting great reviews!
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Volume 2, Issue 14 (February 2014)

Jason MacAskill’s personal newsletter…
I’m solely responsible for the contents, all opinions strictly my own.

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Hello, readers.  Thank you for opening my newsletter today.  Because of recent anti-spam laws, I will be (in all likelihood) phasing my newsletter out soon, unless or until I think of a good launching point for a new one, one that provides an easily accessible launching point for opting in.  If you don’t want to receive these anymore, please click on the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom; I don’t want to bother you, and it won’t hurt my feelings.  However, if you do like receiving these, please let me know – and share it as well.

I’ve incorporated three reviews for “Unnecessary Farce” into the newsletter this time.  It is a farce in the classic sense, with multiple misunderstandings, clever dialogue, and split-second timing that works on every level – and that’s all I am going to say about it.  Let’s see what other important people thought about it, shall we?

First up, Calgary Herald reviewer and all-around nice guy Dan St. Yves, courtesy of his “Such Is Life” blog (thanks, Dan!):

The “Before-Noon” Theatre Review: Stage West Calgary’s presentation of “Unnecessary Farce
by Paul Slade Smith
directed by J. Sean Elliott 
If the reaction of last night’s audience is any indication, word of mouth for Stage West Calgary’s latest comedy is going to be cause for a whole lot of sellouts there during the next couple of months…
Chock-full of talented actors embracing a script that percolates along to the full boil of a surprise ending, I can assure you that the laughter is literally relentless. 
Once again I have to hold back some of my choicest comments for the official Calgary Herald review I’ll be writing as soon as this one is posted (link here when that goes live online!), but I can say that “Unnecessary Farce” stands out in my mind as the best comedy I’ve seen in this facility – and there have been some awfully good ones over at least the past 5 years that I’ve been attending.
How can you lose, when you have a fabled “Highland Hitman”, that plays a song on the bagpipes before he eliminates his quarry? Or a sort-of “assistant murderer”, that preps the victims, yet has some remorse and jitters that tend to complicate his part of the missions?
There’s a mysterious “big wheel” orchestrating all the activity, as well as a fledgling cop that couldn’t even be trusted with an official police force-issued pistol, settling for something more appropriate for a schoolyard encounter. 
Add in some irresistible attraction to percolate the love element, and you’re getting close to seeing the big picture in this exceptional farce…
There’s even one scene that pays homage to our very own Calgary Stampede – featuring a little bucking…
Set in a pair of adjoining motel rooms, the set design was terrific, allowing for the characters to migrate between the situations unfolding entirely erratically in each of those rooms. The plan to catch a small town mayor on videotape confessing to a corruption scandal goes off just perfectly, if the planners of that enterprise had been Laurel & Hardy…
I’m not sure how much of this production is script or director, but there’s no question that the end result is a brisk, madcap adventure that had audience members exchanging glances as they howled with laughter. 
I just can’t give anything away without spoiling the fun, so beat the crowds (last night appeared to be sold-out) and get right down to Stage West to take in this funny and enjoyable crime comedy!
Check back later this week for my Calgary Herald review!

Here is Kathy Speck’s review from the Anchor Weekly (thanks, Kathy!):

Unnecessary Farce – Stage West Review

Submitted Story – Posted: 20 February 2014
By Kathy Speck

A Friday night in February, Valentine’s Day, to be precise, and dinner with a play! What luck that the Anchor folks invited me to attend! I had no idea that the Stage West people loved Valentine’s Day so much, they had decorated the theatre with balloon bouquets, yes, pink and red hearts were floating everywhere! Each table was decked out with vases containing pink roses, accompanied by chocolate covered strawberries to round out the table decorations. Our waiter, Wayne (Wayne the Waiter as he came to be known) told us not to forget to take our roses and vases home with us, a special treat!

Media night is made up of a different sort of audience, as often you are seated with other “reviewers” – our table mates were an interesting couple who had spent most of their lives in the Calgary area, which was great fun as we remembered so many things in common about the area, and they both remembered Chestermere in the olden days just as we do! Even better, just before we started making our many trips to the buffet tables, one of the actresses in the play dropped by our table, as she had been interviewed earlier by one of our new found friends. Her name was Valerie Boyle and she told us that she had a bit part in the play. She was delightful and charming, and told us that the play we were about to see was good fun, for both the actors and the audience. I couldn’t help but think that the evening was getting off to such a great start!

On to the food! They just never disappoint, with such a huge selection it’s so hard to decide. My particular favorites this time were the peach melba chicken, the roasted fingerling potatoes with oregano and feta cheese, and the ricotta and sundried jumbo ravioli. I wish now that I had been brave enough to try the baked bread and yam pudding, but the salted caramel chocolate torte that I did choose was pretty awesome! There was a huge pink layer cake that I managed to feast on with only my eyes, English trifle, mini cheese cake squares – I wonder if one time it might be a good idea to try every dessert and nothing else, a tough decision I’ll make another day. All four of us thoroughly enjoyed our respective dinners, with no two even remotely the same!

The stage is set: two hotel rooms with an adjoining door. First we meet two charming but maybe not terribly smart cops, they are supposed to be undercover but one of them shows up in uniform! They are there to videotape what is about to happen in the next room; the mayor is to meet with a new city accountant who has some pretty serious questions. It seems as if the mayor has skimmed a huge amount of money from the city coffers, and the accountant works with the two cops planning how she will have the mayor incriminate himself on tape.

Of course, things become complicated in a big way when the mayor runs into the uniformed cop in the lobby, the accountant and the other cop realize that they are totally smitten with each other, the mayor’s security officer arrives to check the room, the accountant hardly ever has her clothes on, the most unusual hit man ever shows up, and the mayor’s wife keeps appearing in the middle of it all! We were treated to the most amazing translation/speech I have ever heard, delivered by the very talented Natascha Grigis (the lovable but very bumbley uniformed cop). There wasn’t a single sound in the entire theatre while she spoke, which was noticeable because through most of the play a lot of dialogue was lost due to the laughter coming from the audience. I realized that Val (who we met earlier) had been pulling our legs when she told us that she had a bit part. She was crucial to the play, and played her part perfectly. If you like bagpipes, some Scottish brogue, surprises, and physical comedy, this play is for you! And if you like chocolate dipped florentines; this is the place to be until April 13th!

Last but certainly not least, Louis B. Hobson’s Calgary Sun review (thanks, Louis!):

The farce is strong in this one — Stage West’s new comedy Unnecessary Farce

By Louis Hobson, Calgary Sun
First posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:52 PM MST | Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 10:30 AM MST

Stage West’s new comedy Unnecessary Farce may be terminally silly but it is also howlingly funny.

It is a typical farce with mistaken identities, a hopeless innocent who’ll save the day, adjoining hotel rooms, eight doors, and a host of characters who keep finding themselves stripped to their undergarments.

There is also a bit of a plot.

A pair of rookie police officers have been sent to spy on the mayor suspected of embezzling funds who has scheduled a meeting with a curvaceous accountant in one of the hotel rooms.

The police discover that the town is under the thumb of the Scottish mafia and when its hit man dresses in full regalia and plays the bagpipes someone will die.

Natascha Girgis plays Billie Dwyer, a police officer so inept she has to carry a water pistol.

Billie is teamed with Eric Sheridan (Eric Craig) a shy virginal officer desperate to lose his virginity and the sexy accountant Karen Brown (Emily Bartlett) is only too eager — except their trysts keep getting interrupted by a macho security guard (Daniel Roberts), the hit man Todd (Tory Doctor), Mayor Meekly (Glenn Nelson) and the mayor’s wife Mary Meekly (Valerie Boyle).

There isn’t a pratfall, sexual entendre, or bit of comic mayhem that director J. Sean Elliott doesn’t gleefully exploit, much to the delight of the audience.

It helps that Elliott has a top notch-cast lead by Girgis who is a remarkable physical comedian reminiscent of those great silent film stars whose bodies seemed made of rubber, and boy does Girgis know how to milk her antics until they get the applause they deserve.

Doctor is equally hilarious as the Scottish hit man who keeps getting hit on the head and rendered unconscious. He also has a great comic bit in that the more agitated his character gets the thicker his brogue gets until no one on or off the stage can understand him — except Girgis who has to translate.

Another great comic bit sees Boyle having to climb up and over the bed and she knows how and when to get the laughs.

It is so obvious that Paul Slade Smith, who wrote Unnecessary Farce, is an actor himself because he has made certain that every character in the play has a featured moment or two and Stage West’s actors are game to make the most of them.

Ian Martens has designed a set so clever it almost qualifies as another character.

Unnecessary Farce is the kind of show that demands you leave your decorum in the parking lot and just give in to all the endless nonsense.

Thinking in a comedy like this is not optional.

It’s completely unnecessary.

*** 1/2 (out of five)


Stage West Calgary also does tribute shows, featuring such acts as the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, and “the King” himself, Elvis Presley!  For more information on any of those shows, please use this link.

Any questions or comments?  Please call me, write me, let me know if you want to see a show!  If you serve as your company’s social club coordinator, or events planner, please let me know if you’d like a table for two.  I would be happy to let you sample the product, so to speak, before committing to a group function.  Just contact me!  We are already booking Christmas parties now!

If you think that this information would be interesting to a friend, a member of your family, someone you work with, a customer, a vendor… please, forward it along.  Every click helps.

I graduated from Laurentian University in 1995 with an Honors Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration.  A lifelong baseball fan, I worked for several professional teams, including the Calgary Cannons, the Calgary Roughnecks, the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.  I worked in nearly every aspect of the industry – group sales, ticketing, marketing, and media relations were just some of the departments I worked in or coordinated.  Prior to joining Belterra on a consultant basis in 2010, I worked for a Calgary-based logistics company.  In August of 2011, I joined the Stagewest Hospitality sales team, focusing primarily on the city’s preeminent dinner theatre experience, Stage West Calgary.

(W) 403-616-8916
(O) 403-243-7077


Jason MacAskill

Stagewest Calgary – 727 42 Avenue SE

Calgary, Alberta T2G 1Y8


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Jason MacAskill

Stagewest Calgary – 727 42 Avenue SE

Calgary, Alberta T2G 1Y8


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Posted February 24, 2014 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

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