By Chris Brown on December 20, 2018.
Medicine Hat debuts and returning favourites filled the entertainment calendar this year in the Gas City. Musicians, comedians, dancers and more took the stage at a variety of venues in the city.
The highlight, possibly even the highlights, of the year weren’t on the stage, though, but on the ice.
Cirque du Soleil brought its first-ever on-ice production, Crystal, to the Canalta Centre for seven shows May 23-27. Skating, acrobatics, music, laughter and plenty of ‘wow moments’ thrilled the many who packed into the arena.
“Top-notch professional skaters and acrobats brought one hell of an ice show to the Hat,” wrote reviewer Stan Ashbee of opening night. “The amount of athleticism in a Cirque show is second to none and the performers in Crystal are no exception. Performers are graceful, eloquent and seem at home in their new winter wonderland.”
Shortly after the show wrapped, Canalta Centre GM Tammy Sweeney reported show-goers came from 20 different cities in North America and totalled a combined crowd of 15,230. It all added up to a $2.5-million boost to the local economy.
In the fall, Canadian figure skating darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were at the Canalta Centre with The Thank You Canada Tour. Virtue, Moir, Elvis Stojko, Katelyn Osmond, Patrick Chan and more gave skating fans plenty to cheer about and no doubt inspired a few young skaters.
Among the returning non-ice favourites was Hedley. But by the time they performed at the Canalta Centre in February the band was getting just as much attention for accusations of sexual misconduct as for their music. The local show was one of the last before the band went on hiatus. Lead singer Jacob Hoggard has since been charged with multiple sex offences.
Later in the year Headstones came back to the Esplanade just a year after their previous performance. The hard-rocking punk band gave a final salute and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of its debut album “Picture of Health.”
Theory of a Deadman, Serena Ryder, Scott Woods, Terry Gillespie, Michael Charles, Glass Tiger, The Glorious Sons and Tom Jackson each brought their particular brand of music to the Hat.
On the country side of the microphone Brett Kissel set the bar high early in 2018 with his set at the Esplanade. Fellow Canadian country stars Johnny Reid, Gord Bamford and Lindsay Ell all treated Hatters this past year. The middle of the year, of course, features the Stampede night shows, featuring country acts Corb Lund, High Valley and Tanya Tucker, and rockers Joan Jett and The Guess Who.
Tributes to musicians of the past were also popular this year. Classic Albums Live performed Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” this year among its Esplanade stops and Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, The Louisiana Hayride and Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons also got the tribute treatment.
“Weird” Al Yankovic was among those providing the laughs this year. The parody master brought his “Ridiculously Self-indulgent, Ill-advised Vanity Tour to the Esplanade in Medicine Hat to the delight of many.
Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath, Andre Philippe-Gagnon, Derek Edwards, Steve Hytner, Kevin Farley and Craig Ferguson also tickled some local funny bones in 2018.
Dance shows included Opus Cactus, Anastasia, Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen, Cirque Eloize’s Saloon and the Christmas favourite The Nutcracker.
Other performances of note: MILF, Simon King, Suzie LeBlanc and Daniel Taylor, Jim Cuddy, Arrogant Worms, Donny Lee, Sloan, Tre Twitty and Tayla Lynn, Okee Dokee Brothers, Led Zepagain, Rose & Owl and Over the Moon, Fortunate Ones, Frank Mills, The East Pointers and Port Cities, David James & Big River, Murray McLauchlan, Telemetry, Luke McMaster, A Celtic Family Christmas and Don Amero.
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