Cow Patti returns to celebrate two decades of community theatre
The ladies foursome Michele LeBlanc, Alison Lawrence, Myself, and Debra Hale. Cow Patti theatre company is putting on its 20th season of shows beginning Nov. 10 at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club. (Photo Submitted)
Longevity in theatre is far from guaranteed, but beginning Nov. 10 Cow Patti theatre company will return with its 20th season of shows in Central Alberta.
Performing primarily at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club, the season will kick off with the comedy thriller The Butler Did It and in February the company will perform Wally’s Cafe. From November to March, more than 50 performances will be put on by Cow Patti, from senior’s brunches to benefit dinners, kicking off with one for Fort McMurray on Nov. 10.
“We’re not the artsy fartsy stuffy theatre. This is a place where I want people to feel like they belong and have ownership of in a certain regard,” said AnnaMarie Lea, artistic producing director for Cow Patti. “And I think that we’ve really accomplished that over the last 20 years and that’s something that makes me very proud.”
The Fort McMurray season-opening show is just one of 16 benefit shows scheduled this season. Lea reached out to numerous municipalities in Alberta, offering to put on benefits, and one of the first ones to come to mind was Fort McMurray.
There will be a silent auction and 50/50 during the evening, while $10 of every ticket will be donated to Fort McMurray families.
“I think it’s a really special way to kick off our 20th season,” she said.
And though the professional comedy dinner theatre company has performed throughout Alberta, it is very much a part of Central Alberta. Its first show 20 years ago was performed just outside of Clive, while countless shows have since been performed at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club, where Cow Patti now calls home.
Lea brought the theatre company to Cornwall, Ont. for a decade while her husband, a pilot, was transferred there, but returned to the area six years ago and with her returned Cow Patti.
Like her, the cast for the upcoming shows will be professional actors who will arrive in Lacombe from other parts of the country just two weeks prior to the first production.
“And that’s very much part of being a Canadian actor – you have to move around,” Lea said.
For her part, she still travels back to Ontario in the summer months to perform on the stage. Prior to rehearsals for The Butler Did It, she will be in Calgary filming a part she landed for the film In Plainview.
Lea is aware opportunities for Canadian actors and artists both on and behind the stage are limited, so her desire to keep Cow Patti going is as strong as ever.
“It’s very much part of the mandate of the Cow Patti theatre company to create opportunity for Canadian artists,” she said.
Those opportunities are helped by strong community partnership in Central Alberta. Several businesses come to Cow Patti for Christmas shows and benefits, while others help in different ways.
Lea noted she receives tremendous support from a variety of individuals with props, costumes, or 50/50 help during benefits.
“Instead of having this amazing prop department, we’ve got Pam [Stewart] down at Vintagebelles,” she said, with a laugh. “If I need a prop she totally dresses my set and I can call her up ... She’s amazing. And that is such a huge thing for us.”
Lea admitted to having concerns about putting on another season given the current economic conditions in the province, but instead those concerns became motivation.
“I thought I’m going to offer our audiences the best show I can and I’m going to work harder – as most Albertans are – to create opportunities and to be successful and move forward it. I still think people need to go out and celebrate life and have a good laugh.”
This season’s schedule includes a Wednesday wing night, prime rib dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as a Saturday and Sunday brunch show. For a full schedule, see cowpatti.com, and to purchase tickets call Lea at (403) 304-6329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.