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City celebrities display their acting chops

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'You like me, you really like me!" cried out Big Daddy Tazz, Sally Fields-style, as the comedian and TSN 1920's Troy Westwood both stepped forward to accept first-place honors in the So You Think You Can Act? event. The Gas Station was packed to the rafters Wednesday night for the third annual contest where local celebs get two hours to practise a scene out of a play with real actors and then present them onstage to a voting audience. Ace Burpee of Hot 1031 Virgin Radio brought his own trophy along to show off, reminding the crowd he won the first event in 2012. Kerri Salki of Clear FM won in 2013.

Tazz turned out to be a talented actor in a scene where he's a professor whose former student/now girlfriend (played by actress Elizabeth Whitbread) announces she's pregnant. He's arguing about "options" and how a baby would cramp his lifestyle. Former CFLer Westwood played the part of an arch-conservative, gun-toting radical with adoring assistant (acting partner Danielle Savage) who practically stole the show from him with a sight gag -- her elastic-challenged panties kept hitting the floor. Heavy symbolism!

Other actors vying for the trophy included former Blue Bomber and now Shawarma Khan restaurant owner Obby Khan, radio and TV veteran Jim Ingebrigtsen, Global Winnipeg's Eva Kovacs and CTV Morning Live's Kris Laudien. Winnipeg Free Press columnist Alison Gillmor played a crass mojito-downing tourist in The Girl Who Loved Castro. Burpee, the evening's host, noted gushing judge Kevin Klassen clearly had a crush on Gillmor, a bias that may have handicapped her with the voting audience. Klassen was sandwiched between clearer-headed female judges/actresses Ardith Boxall and Sharon Bajer.

Spotted at the wine-and-appies after party: Kay Stewart of Soroptimist International of Winnipeg, Breakfast Television's Jenna Khan, musician Sara Adi Kreindler, Reno Augellone from the Better Business Bureau, Arlene Draffin Jones of the North End Community Renewal Corporation, actor/director Ray Cloutier, and Jane Burpee from the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society. Also making the scene were Rick Gensiorek, executive director of Manitoba Spartans AAA Hockey, Richard Beamish, a partner at Tapper Cuddy LLP, Kelly-Ann Stevenson, president of Council of Women of Winnipeg and motivational speaker Deri Latimer.

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SWING THAT BATON, BABY! "When Trudy Schroeder from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra called about the Golden Baton award, I was mind-boggled," says Al Simmons, the hilarious one-man band who promises he will be up to his crazy tricks when he receives the Artistic Achievement Award from the WSO at its Martinis and Manhattans gala Tuesday at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

"They told me I have the night off, but I'm going to come loaded up with props. They'll have to get the hook to get me off," he said.

The Big Apple-style gala will feature three Broadway-style numbers played by the orchestra, with vocalist Anna-Lisa Kirby singing.

Who'd have guessed there'd be this association between the multi-prop, totally zany, musical comedy of Simmons and a world-famous orchestra.

"It was 1989 when I called up Max Tapper, the big cheese -- I also knew him as a performer -- because I had an idea for a collaboration with the orchestra. He said: 'Absolutely.' "

Simmons is known for staging one-man band shows calling to mind cartoons on TV, which are often backed by full symphony music. "I've done so many shows with WSO over the years," he says, adding, "they're like friends and family."

The first Golden Baton Award was presented to WSO past president and community supporter Harold Buchwald, QC, in 1990. Other recipients include Steve Bell, the Richardson Foundation, James Ehnes, Irmgard and William Baerg, George T. Richardson, Raymond McFeetors, Sanford Riley and William H. Loewen.

The careers of WSO violin players Raymond Chrunyk and Boyd MacKenzie and bass player Zdzislaw Prochownik will also be recognized prior to their retirement at the end of the 2013-14 season. Tickets are available for $225 by calling 204-949-3973 or Reception is at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m.


Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB., R2X 3B6.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2014 B4

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