September 25th, 2018

Year in Review: Non-stop local entertainment

By Chris Brown on December 21, 2017.

Hunter Semrau (Clyde) and Georgia Frey (Bonnie) in a scene from opening night of "Bonnie & Clyde" at Crescent Heights High School on Feb. 1. Later in the year Semrau would capture second place in the musical theatre discipline at the National Music Festival in Ottawa.

Another year gone, another year of top-notch talent on the Medicine Hat entertainment, arts and culture scene. Anybody who says there is nothing to do in Medicine Hat just isn’t paying attention.

From festivals that draw fans from far and wide to locals of all ages taking centre stage to Canada 150 celebrations throughout the year, the city had it all.

Here is a look back at some of what happened in 2017.

Festival seekers

Medicine Hat can do a festival like no other city of its size. The Tongue on the Post Folk Music Festival was a cool winter treat at the end of January with headliners Ryland Moranz, Gordie Tentrees & Jaxon Haldon and Sampson’s Delilah and Medicine Hat JazzFest celebrated its 21st year in June with acts like Cheryl Fisher, Tim Tamashiro and Kurt Rosenwinkel. The second annual Cars and Guitars festival welcomed Trooper, Honeymoon Suite, Loverboy and Kick Axe in August. Smaller-scale festivals also made their mark this year like the Banff Mountain Film Festival in January, the Reel Paddling Film Festival in March, the Heliocity Music Festival in early June and the Daybreaker Music Festival in September.

Stage shows

Hardly a month goes by in Medicine Hat without live theatre from one of the groups or schools in the city and the level of talent never ceases to amaze. Medicine Hat Musical Theatre presented four shows in 2017 (“Come Blow Your Horn,” “Assassins,” “Sister Act” and “Robin Hood”), Hatterland Children’s Theatre presented “The Ever After — A Musical” and the new Playing It Forward group presented “Calendar Girls,” from which 100 per cent of the profits were donated to the Margery E. Yuill Cancer Ward at the hospital.

At the school level Medicine Hat High School broke in its revamped space with Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Willy Wonka.” Crescent Heights High School presented “Bonnie & Clyde,” Monsignor McCoy High School gave us “13” and St. Mary’s School went green with “Shrek.”

From the Rotary Music Festival to Ottawa

For years the Rotary Music Festival has helped push local youth to the next provincial music festival. This year one competitor went a step further. Hunter Semrau, 18, won at the local festival and then at the Alberta Provincial Music Festival was recommended for nationals. There he placed second in his musical theatre discipline, behind only a 25-year-old with a theatre degree from the University of Toronto. Nine other locals placed either first or second at the provincial festival.

Art all over

Gallery spaces showcased the artistic talents of locals and international artists alike in 2017. At the Esplanade in the spring locals Susan Knight, Safira Lachapelle, Jessica Plattner, Wendy Struck and Kat Valenzuela were tasked with using childhood memories and allowing them to inspire new works of art for When We Were Young. The Medicine Hat Public Library showed the art therapy work of Rylan Stein, who lives with cerebral palsy. The Esplanade’s School Art 2017 and Wendy Struck’s Between and House Life and Dish at Medalta were also notable exhibitions this year.

The printed word

Local authors kept busy this year as well. Southwest Saskatchewan’s Henry Ripplinger released the sixth book in his Angelic Letters series in July and former Hatter Darlene Foster returned to the city in August for a book signing to celebrate the latest book in her Amanda Travels series.

Canada’s birthday

Canada 150 played a big role in the city’s arts scene this year. The national exhibition Oh Ceramics was at the Esplanade leading up to July 1, the TarTones performed From Sea to Sea: A salute to Canada’s 150th anniversary in June, Canada played a big part in The Hat Art Club and Medicine Hat Potters Association: Biennial Exhibition and JoJo Mason, The Hunter Brothers, One Bad Son and The Unforgettables played the Sandfly Festival in Kin Coulee Park on July 1.

Don’t forget

Other happenings of note on the local entertainment scene in 2017 include:

Medicine Hat College’s Visual Communications program grad class held its exhibition ‘bridge’ in April

Tomorrow’s Broadway Today and the Concerto Showcase put local youth on the Esplanade stage in the spring

Medicine Hat’s own Kumiko Sakamoto came home to perform with the San Francisco-based Thalea String Quartet in July

Contest winner Justine Sletten of Hazlet, Sask., helped kick off Stampede week, performing Martina McBride’s “Reckless” at the Stampede Summer Jam

Music, art, literature and more took over the city during Culture Days in late-September

Mahoney and Friends, the Selah Singers and the Medicine Hat Concert Band Society helped make Christmas merry with their annual December shows.

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