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Lacombe’s AnnaMarie Lea continues to expand her creative horizons

One of Lacombe’s artistic pioneers — Cow Patti Theatre Company’s AnnaMarie Lea — is relishing her own creative pursuits while mapping out the coming theatre season here at home.
AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre Company. (Photo submitted)

One of Lacombe’s artistic pioneers — Cow Patti Theatre Company’s AnnaMarie Lea — is relishing her own creative pursuits while mapping out the coming theatre season here at home.

These days, Lea is in Ontario wearing her acting hat, taking part in an Upper Canada Playhouse production of Norm Foster’s Drinking Alone — a play Cow Patti will also be producing next spring during its 27th season.

For that show, local folks will witness Lea’s strong acting chops as she will be taking on the role she’s currently performing down east.

“This is my 23rd season with the Playhouse, so it’s like coming home,” she said. “It’s nice to do a show where you just have to worry about doing your job as an actor,” she added.

And on top of flexing her creative muscles onstage, she also landed a part in a Hallmark Christmas movie — Mr. Christmas — set to be aired this year.

The Edmonton-based Northern Gateway Films project was shot this past March.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “We also spent quite a bit of time at Fort Edmonton — they turned it into a lovely Christmas wonderland.”

For Lea, a professional and accomplished actress, the differences between stage and film work are pretty striking. With a play, there is more rehearsal time built into the process. Another key difference is with film, scenes are typically shot out of sequence. You may begin with shooting a scene that actually occurs near the end of the film.

So actors have to imagine where they would be on the character’s personal journey for that particular scene, even though they haven’t filmed a single scene leading up to it at that point in time.

“I approach each scene like it is its own little vignette,” she said.

“I was also on set for quite a few days which is really nice because you become a part of the whole process,” she explained.

Stage or screen, there of course has to be an honesty shining through in one’s work to nail a convincing and authentic performance.

For theatre, you also have to ‘ramp’ things up a touch as you are connecting with perhaps hundreds of people in the audience.

In a film, intimacy is captured more ‘quietly’ and subtly.

“Vocally, it also has to be smaller (on film) but with the same honesty and intensity.”

The power of imagination and the ability to focus is all the more important in a film, too, as sets can be hectic places with lots of people bustling around you, handling all sorts of responsibilities.

“You have to really focus in. It’s interesting because, for those going from TV work to theatre, it might be even a bit more challenging because they have to make it ‘broader’ but still intense.”

Lea is also in an upcoming film — Miracle in East Texas — that is being released this October.

“I got to work with Norm from Cheers!” That project was shot just outside of Calgary.

It also was an enriching time, and ultimately, Lea said each of these experiences fuels her creative passion overall.

“I find that every experience adds to your wheelhouse.”

Meanwhile, the upcoming fall show for Cow Patti, also penned by Foster, is called Danny and Delilah.

Lea is excited about tackling a fresh story from Foster, whose career as a playwright stretches back decades.

“Why am I doing two Norm Foster plays? My audiences love Norm Foster, and I love Norm Foster,” she added with a laugh.

“They are also two completely different stories, but as he has said, they both deal with families.

“I feel that my job is to give people entertainment; to give them a moment outside of their ordinary lives just to sit back and laugh. And sometimes through laughter, we learn wonderful messages, or we can recognize things in others or in ourselves.

“There is always a moment of revelation.”

For more about the Cow Patti’s season or to purchase tickets, visit

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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