Derek Ritschel’s success was predicted by none other than Canada’s most-produced playwright, Norm Foster, who once called him the “future of theatre in this country.”
Heading into the 2017 summer season, Ritschel is one of the most influential artists in the history of Lighthouse Theatre. Before becoming artistic director in 2011, he performed over 257 times on the Lighthouse stage, more than any actor in the company’s history. He has also directed ten Lighthouse productions, and has written and premiered two of his own original plays there. In total, he has directly participated in 551 Lighthouse Theatre performances in some way.
Since taking over as Lighthouse’s artistic director, Ritschel has added a community production for local amateur actors, overseen considerable technical improvements, witnessed the most successful seasons in the theatre’s 36 year history and has made significant ambassadorial efforts by expanding the theatre’s participation in other community groups and events. These efforts include public speaking engagements at local service clubs, volunteering his time and expertise at local community theatres, and increasing Lighthouse’s alignment with the Port Dover Board of Trade by volunteering to co-chair Port Dover’s annual Christmasfest celebration and parade.
Apart from his success at Lighthouse, Ritschel has performed in theatres across Canada, and in several television programs and films. He served as the Chair of the Ontario Summer Theatre Association from 2013 to 2015, and is a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Professional Development Grant. One of his biggest achievements as a Canadian theatre artist is rescuing Showboat Festival Theatre in Port Colborne from closure in 2013 by reaching out to the theatre’s board of directors and bringing the company under Lighthouse Theatre management.
Lighthouse Festival Theatre credits:
Actor: Heatwave, The Drawer Boy, Mary’s Wedding, Bedtime Stories, Mending Fences, A Christmas Carol, Stranger In Our House, Between Friends, Outlaw, The Foursome
Playwright: Perfect Pitch, Rum Runners
Director: When The Reaper Calls, Knickers, Melville Boys, Harvest, Rum Runners, Self Help,Trying, Corpse!, The Ghost Island Light, Perfect Wedding, Jonas and Barry in the Home
Select Canadian Theatre Acting Credits:
A Gift to Last, A Christmas Carol (Theatre Orangeville); Mending Fences (Griffin Theatre, Theatre In Port, Theatre Aquarius); Strawberries In January (Theatre Aquarius); Waiting For Godot (Kytes Theatre); Crackwalker (Spadina Theatre)
Traders, Prince Street, Glitter, True Crime Scenes, Queer as Folk, Traders, Men With Guns, Silent Hill, Doc.
Derek will direct the 2017 Lighthouse productions of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery and Five Alarm.