“GET ready for some of the finest live theatre in the country,” says Lighthouse Festival artistic director Derek Ritschel about the 2022 playbill.
Laughter will again ring through Port Dover this summer as Lighthouse Festival makes plans to raise the curtain on comedy this summer.
COVID-19 restrictions kept the downtown Port Dover theatre closed for the past two years. Last summer, a tent set up at The Links at Dover Coast golf course offered a modified season of summer plays.
With planning underway for a regular season, this summer’s playbill brings laughter and adventure.
“Patrons will be treated to a side-splitting lineup of Canadian comedy, presented by professional actors and crew,” says the artistic director.
Lighthouse Festival will stage an all-Canadian lineup full of the Canadian sense of humour, including shows written by Lighthouse favourites Norm Foster and Kristen Da Silva, and a world premiere by Peter Colley.
“Audiences will laugh by the lake while they get swept up in a night of romance with a country twang in ‘Sugar Road’ …harvest a bumper crop of laughter in the rural rom-com ‘Buying the Farm’ …look for love in the middle of nowhere in Norm Foster’s maritime comedy ‘Halfway There’ …learn explosive family secrets from a sassy matriarch in ‘Meet My Sister’ …and help Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solve a thrilling mystery in ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes’,” says Mr Ritschel.
“There are heroes and villains. There is intrigue and comedy. There is love, and there is heart. And all the laughter you can handle,” says the theatre’s artistic director.
Execulink Telecom returns as the season presenter for Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover, marking the third year of the partnership. Lighthouse says it is also grateful to the Ontario Arts
Council and the Canadian Council for the Arts who have provided funding for the 2022 season.
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Lighthouse Festival has been operating in Port Dover for 43 years presenting live theatre and musicals. In pre-pandemic years, Lighthouse Festival welcomed over 45,000 attendees each season.
In 2013, Lighthouse expanded into Port Colborne’s Showboat Theatre at the Roselawn Centre when a partnership was formed in 2012 to keep professional theatre alive in that community. Shows moved from the Port Dover stage to Port Colborne for an extended run.
This year, Lighthouse emerges from the pandemic with a new look and a vision to foster Canadian talent while entertaining audiences in two distinctive theatres: Port Dover’s Old Town Hall and the Roselawn Theatre in Port Colborne.
The mission is reflected in a new identity as Lighthouse Festival.
“This is the power of merging Showboat and Lighthouse,” says Mr Ritschel. “We are no longer run separately. We are now one theatre family who has quickly become the strongest theatre company along the north shore of Lake Erie.”
Audiences in Port Dover and Port Colborne will continue to enjoy the same top-quality, professional shows and the same experience, backed by one dedicated team working in both communities.
Rebranding as Lighthouse Festival includes a new, easy-to-use website to purchase show tickets and plan getaways to both theatres. Funding for the rebrand was provided in part by OMAFRA as part of the Rural Economic Development program.
Visitors to the Roselawn Theatre will also see the space transformed.
In partnership with the City of Port Colborne, Lighthouse staff was hard at work during the pandemic, renovating and re-imagining the theatre space.
“The moment you enter, you will see a whole new world,” Mr Ritschel says. “A new box office, a new art gallery, a new lobby, new lights and sound. I’m super excited for the people of Port Colborne to see their space and take ownership of their space.”
Mr Ritschel says he cannot wait to throw open the doors of what he proudly envisions as “a community space and artistic hub” for Port Colborne and the surrounding area.
“After two pandemic summers without a full slate of live theatre, everyone at Lighthouse Festival is eager to get back to what we do best – making people laugh and making memories that last a lifetime. It’s that feeling of home,” says Mr Ritschel, describing the joy of seeing familiar faces on stage and in the seats.
“It’s high time we all get together to laugh once again,” he said.