Author: Don Kearney-Bourque

An Army of Volunteers Help Keep LFT Running Smoothly

September 1, 2023

Port Dover Maple Leaf

By Donna McMillan

In 1996, Nancy Sherwin was new to Port Dover and wanted to get involved in the community and meet new people. She heard Lighthouse Festival Theatre was looking for volunteers and decided to offer her time. She is still volunteering and reaping the benefits of greeting people who come to the theatre. “Everyone is here to have an enjoyable time. It’s a nice vibe,” she told the Maple Leaf in an interview.

Stephanie Grant is the Patron Experience Supervisor at Lighthouse Festival Theatre and is responsible for the box office and bar areas at the theatre. She also is the Volunteer Coordinator for the 105 volunteers who work as greeters, ushers, 50/50 draw sellers, ice cream vendors, helpers with hors d’oeuvres opening night and more during the season playbill and special events held at LFT. “Our volunteers are dedicated and willing to go above and beyond due to their love of theatre or desire to be helping others,” Stephanie told the Maple Leaf. Volunteers range in age from being in their 20’s to their 80’s, she shared. Some have been with the theatre for more than 30 years, she added. “Some may work one performance per show while others might work ten per show,” she said. Volunteers sign up for when and how many shows they wish to cover.  

For a single performance, Stephanie shared four ushers work the main floor, two in the balcony, two sell 50/50 tickets, one sells ice cream and there are greeters at the front door. At times, they might also hand out tickets when large groups arrive. To assist new volunteers, there is a volunteer handbook outlining job descriptions, policies and procedures. As a thank you, volunteers can attend a performance if there are empty seats. Or, if they are scheduled for two shifts during a performance, they are provided two tickets to a preview performance, Stephanie said. LFT also holds a Volunteers Appreciation Night with all staff and board members attending to thank volunteers. “It is hard to show how thankful we are,” Stephanie said.   Just to show how dedicated volunteers are, Stephanie said during a power outage at the theatre, two volunteers who were in the audience came forward to help a wheelchair patron get out of the building. Volunteers help decorate for Christmas and some enjoy a bit of dancing before patrons arrive as the opening night music group are warming up.   

Nancy, who has worked most volunteer jobs over the years, spoke of all the positive changes  she has witnessed at the theatre from the new seat installation, the new front entrance and exterior look to the back section on the theatre level with the Long Bar. Nancy said it is great to work with a great team. “Everyone jumps in to help out and LFT is good to their volunteers.”   

Review: A Pack of Thieves another success for Lighthouse

By Heather Walters | Port Dover Maple Leaf

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Norm Foster has done it again with this hilarious comedy about five rather ordinary men that find themselves in financial straits that inevitably lead to desperate measures. Foster himself describes this piece of work as a ‘flat out comedy’ – a heist play and a subject matter he had never explored before. The stage play opened Thursday evening to a full house at Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover and will run here through to Sept. 2. The play then moves to Port Colborne until Sept. 17.

It is a fast-paced situational comedy held together by five men and loads of witty dialogue. The entire situation unfolds in a cleverly designed “man cave” created by set designer Megan Cinel. 

Jeffrey Wetsch, aka “Chef”, is the owner of the house and a failing restaurant – the reason he is driven to take such drastic measures to come up with money. His next door neighbour and recently divorced friend Robert, AKA Rubber, – played by Lighthouse Festival’s Artistic Director Derek Ritschel – becomes his first accomplice. 

They come up with a scheme to steal an expensive race horse and decide to bring in three dubious, slightly shady, fairly unscrupulous two-bit criminals to help out with the caper.

Padre, played by Brad Rudy, is a tough mafia-like figure they hope will help them pull off the heist since they have no actual experience committing a crime. They quickly find themselves in over their heads, half fascinated by Padre and half terrified of him. Next they bring in “The Twins” AKA Chip and Dale – a hilarious duo that “come as a set” – who are two-bit thieves with a poor record of success, but who are highly likeable and willing to upgrade their skills in this ambitious scheme. 

Brad Austin (Chip) is the slightly brighter of the two brothers while Allan Cooke (Dale) steals the show with his failure to understand just about everything that is going on. He is, however, a willing participant and the one who threatens to jeopardize the entire operation when he shows his “soft side” to the horse.

A shout out must go to the creative team behind the scene – Kevin Fraser (lighting), Alex Amini (costumes), Daniele Guillaume (stage manager), Sara Allison (assistant stage manager) and Megan Cinel (set design). 

A Pack of Thieves is on stage at Lighthouse Theatre until September 2. If you want to know whether these unlikely criminals pull off a successful heist, tickets can be purchased at the Main Street box office, by visiting, or by calling 519-583-2221.

Review: Norm Foster’s latest play premieres at Lighthouse

By Mike Renzella | The Haldimand Press

August 24, 2023

PORT DOVER—Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s 2023 summer season is ending the way it began, with a Norm Foster show on stage bringing the big laughs and memorable characters that could only come from the mind of one of Canada’s most well-loved and prolific playwrights.

PORT DOVER—Pictured on stage planning the heist are (l-r) Brad Rudy as Padre, Allan Cooke as Dale, Derek Ritschel as Rubber, Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef, and Brad Austin as Chip in a scene from Norm Forster’s world premiere of A Pack of Thieves at Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover. — Photo submitted by Lighthouse Festival

While the season began with an excellent rendition of Foster’s ‘Come Down From Up River’, directed by acclaimed Canadian actress Sheila McCarthy, it ends with the world premiere of Foster’s newest work, ‘A Pack of Thieves’, directed by accomplished writer, director, and actor Jamie Williams.

The show brings together a powerhouse five-man comedy team of Lighthouse favourites to pull off the ultimate heist. Starring as best friends and neighbours are Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef and Lighthouse Artistic Director Derek Ritschel as Rubber. 

The play sees the pair presented with an out-of-the-blue opportunity to score a million bucks each by ‘stealing’ a prize racehorse from a local businessman, who is in on the scheme, and cashing in on the insurance money together.

Chef, owner of a failing restaurant, and Rubber, a tire salesman, are two men struggling through their own personal crises, both financial and personal. Neither have any experience pulling a heist, but Rubber has a plan. 

He brings in three partners: a serial criminal with a serious distaste for potty mouth named Padre – played by Brad Rudy – and ‘the twins’ (not biological), a pair of hilariously dimwitted thugs with Brad Austin as Chip and Allan Cooke as Dale, who are brought in by Rubber in a bid to score favour with his girlfriend, who happens to be their cousin.

Foster describes the show as a “flat out comedy”, noting how he purposefully tried to challenge himself to write a show that didn’t rely on the heartfelt moments he is known for: “Feelings are good. But this one has none of that. Feelings be damned!”

Director Williams, who stages the action in a fast-paced, joke-a-minute pace that gives the audience just enough time to catch their breath before throwing another red-hot zinger at them, credits all five actors for making the show as memorable as it is: “I can’t think of five better gentlemen to tell this particular story.”

He’s not wrong. Each of the five performers bring a unique vibe that, when combined, makes for some great, belly-laugh-inducing moments throughout the show.

Wetsch and Ritschel are a great duo, with Wetsch wound tighter than a drum and Ritschel amiably clueless to the gravity of the situation they have placed themselves in. Rudy imbues Padre with a steely demeanour driven by a (deserved) lack of faith in his partners’ abilities, while Austin and Cooke steal the show, leaning right into the absolutely ridiculous characters they’ve been served and bringing big laughs with them.

After a summer full of shows with big themes about aging, acceptance, and illness, all delivered with a healthy dose of laughter notwithstanding, it’s great to kick back and enjoy a show with no greater ambition than to make you laugh solidly for two hours. ‘A Pack of Thieves’ accomplishes this goal with ease and brings Lighthouse’s perfect 2023 summer festival to an end in style.

Tickets and showtimes are available at The play will be at Port Dover’s Lighthouse Theatre until September 2, before moving on to Port Colborne’s Roselawn Theatre from September 6 to 17.

That’s not all from the fine folks at Lighthouse though, as they will bring their season-topping music revue show ‘Leisa Way’s Opry Gold’, featuring the Wayward Wind Band and running from September 5 to 16 in Dover and from September 20 to 24 in Port Colborne. 

Plus, new for this season, their holiday pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ promises “uproarious comedy, fantastical costumes, and musical numbers that will knock your socks off” when it hits the Lighthouse stage this holiday season.

After studying journalism at Humber College, Mike Renzella desired to write professionally but found himself working in technical fields for many years. Beginning in 2019 as a freelancer, he joined the team full-time later that year. Since then, Mike has won several awards for his articles thanks to his commitment to presenting an unbiased, honest look at the important news and events shaping our community.

Meet the Director of A Pack of Thieves | Jamie Williams

Jamie Williams is happy to be back at Lighthouse Festival for his first time as a director at the theatre. He’s starred on the Lighthouse stage in Skin Flick (Byron Hobbs); Melville Boys (Lee); and Baskerville (Dr. Watson). He’s directed at a number of theatres, including productions at the Foster Festival & the Upper Canada Playhouse. Jamie has recently been brought on board with the the team at The Foster Festival as their Artistic Associate, and is also thrilled to be starring with his wife Melanie Janzen (who is currently starring as Suzanne in Where You Are in Port Colborne) in the upcoming production of The View from Here, which he wrote, at Theatre Orangeville this coming fall, Oct 11th-29th. We chatted with him about what it’s like to direct a play that has never been produced before and what a daily routine of a theatre director looks like.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): When did you become interested in working as a director, and what influenced your decision to pursue this career?

Jamie Williams (JW): After some time in the business as an actor, which I have been primarily for the majority of my career, you certainly begin to develop thoughts on how you might do things. Especially when you have done a number of different productions of the same play which I have several times. But honestly the first time I seriously considered directing was when I had written my first play “It’s Your Funeral”. The opportunity came up and I thought “I’ve been living with these characters for a couple of years now, I’ve worked and reworked the logic, been envisioning the action of the piece since I set fingers to keyboard, so if there was ever a play I’d direct…” And I took the opportunity. It was a great experience, exciting in a whole new way from acting and writing, and I fell in love with the process. Since then I’ve had the great privilege of directing a number of Norm Foster’s shows and hope to continue doing so.

(LF): Describe your daily routine as a theatre director?

(JW): I don’t know that I have a routine per se, and maybe as I gain more experience one will certainly develop, but outside of the hours in rehearsal I like to arrive early and look forward over what we’re working on and write my thoughts, notes and general goals for the day down. Spending time in the rehearsal space when its quiet definitely opens me to new ideas dropping in, working through challenges that are yet unresolved. The most effective tool I have, and whether it is set in a routine or not, is writing out and through my thoughts and ideas alongside revisiting the script. All the answers are ultimately in the script after all. And at the end of the day I tend to review and again write down the next steps we need to consider the next day. Honestly, regardless of my routine or homework, the real work accomplished, and strides made, are in the rehearsal hall with the actors. It’s a collaborative art form and a director’s process can only be facilitated with the actors and vice versa.

(LF): What are the challenges of directing a play that has never been produced before?

(JW): No frame of reference. If a show has been produced and you’ve seen it before, or been in it, you have a starting point based on what you thought worked or didn’t work in that prior production. A new piece is a blank canvas which is exciting but daunting. However, the script, a good script, functions as a blueprint, everything you need is within it. Sometimes some real scrutiny is required but if you consider every word, punctuation mark, phrase and what is actually being said and the context it’s being said within, as a director you have everything you need.

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favorite stage show?

(JW): I couldn’t possibly say. Julius Caesar the first Shakespeare I read and saw at Stratford? The Melville Boys, the first Norm Foster play I read and was later privileged to perform here at Lighthouse? Or Norm’s The Writer, arguably his most beautiful and heart wrenching script, in which I originated ‘Blake Wellner’? Long Day’s Journey Into Night which I saw performed several times by my idols Tom McCamus and Peter Donaldson alongside the greats William Hutt, Martha Henry and Martha Burns? Or Arcadia by Tom Stoppard in which I played Bernard Nightingale out at The Citadel in Edmonton? Or Hadestown? Or In and Of Itself? Or Possible Worlds…? I think you get the point.

(LF): What will the audience be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?

(JW): I hope they’re still laughing all the way home! A Pack of Thieves is a full out comedy and I think we’re hitting all the right notes that’ll elicit a lot of laughs. But it’s not silly and it’s not a farce and there are moments where Norm has deftly allowed the characters to reveal themselves as truly human with desires, needs, and flaws. They are a disparate group of unlikely partners each with their own quirks and yet they grow through this piece and reflect thoughts and feelings about friendship, love and brotherly affection that we can all relate to and identify as the stuff that really matters in good times and more importantly desperate times. Maybe some of the audience will talk about that. Good theatre is a good story with characters that matter, that we grow to care about, and this story, I think, is just that.

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef

Jeffrey Wetsch’s turn in last year’s Sugar Road was amazingly well-received and we’re thrilled that he’s back as Chef in our World Premiere of A Pack of Thieves! He’s also graced the Lighthouse stage in Beyond The SeaThe Ghost Island Light, and Melville Boys. You’ve also seend him on the small screen in Rabbit Hole, MayDayWayneHolly HoodieTakenPrivate EyesBomb GirlsAlias GraceMohawk GirlsSaving HopePirates PassageMurdoch MysteriesRepublic of Doyle (CBC), Reign, and Rookie Blue (ABC). Let’s find out what will surprise people about this show, what he loves about his character and which celebrity would play it well.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Jeffrey Wetsch (JW): The surprise in this show…is that it’s pure comedy.  No holds barred! A show with one purpose…make everyone laugh!

(LF): What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role? 

(JW): The biggest challenge im finding Playing Chef,  is being the straight man.  It’s not common casting for me. To trust the words to serve up the rest of the characters is a lot of fun but also a lot of responsibility. 

(LF): Besides yourself, which celebrity would you like to see tackle this role?

(JW):  I would love to see Bradly Cooper or maybe even Chevy Chase in his day!  

(LF): What do you love about this character?

(JW): I love Chefs heart.  His desire to succeed and care for everyone around him.  A real carer of others.

(LF): If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be? 

(JW): What other player would i want to play??  That’s a tough one as every cast member is working so successfully at creating these brand new characters for Norm and the audience.   I only see the men who are cast now!  Lol

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Derek Ritschel as Rubber

Lighthouse Festival’s Artistic Director, Derek Ritschel, is back on stage! After directing the hit musical community show, Clue, he’s taking on the role of Rubber in the world premiere of Norm Foster’s A Pack of Thieves. Derek has been in a number of Lighthouse productions, including Heatwave, The Drawer Boy, Mary’s Wedding, Bedtime Stories, Mending Fences, A Christmas Carol, Stranger In Our House, Between Friends, Outlaw, and The Foursome. We sat down with him to chat about who is most and least like their character on stage, what he does just before going on stage and what will surprise people about this comedic tour de force!

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What will people be talking about in the car on the way home after seeing this show?

Derek Ritschel (DR): I hope they are talking about how much they laughed and enjoyed their evening with us. A Pack Of Thieves is unapologetically a comedy so it’s our hope people just relax and enjoy a good laugh. 

(LF): Who is most like their character in this play? Who is the least like their character?

(DR): I would have to say Jeff is closest to his character, he’s a thinker, a planner  … as is his character, Chef. And I would say Allan is the least like his character. The character Dale isn’t the smartest wolf in our pack but in real life … Allan is a very clever artist.

(LF): What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?  

(DR): One deep breath and a sly wink to my acting partner. It’s time to dance. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(DR): Nothing. It’s written by Norm Foster. Laughter is about to happen, and everyone knows it. Let the games begin.

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favorite stage show?

(DR): Tough question for an Artistic Director to answer. I’ve been involved in over 80 shows here. Each and every one has a place in my heart. So, I’ll answer by saying this … I love all my children equally. Long live Lighthouse.  

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Brad Rudy as Padre

Brad Rudy has been on the Lighthouse stage a number of times, including last year in Kristen Da Silva’s Sugar Road. He’s also played Fran in Educating Rita and a dual role of identical twins in Something Fishy. He’s also spent 26 seasons at Stratford Festival and acted as Ted Narracott in Mirvish’s production of Warhorse at the Princess of Wales Theatre. We were able to sit down with Brad and chat about his favourite line of dialogue in A Pack of Thieves, why he wanted to be involved in this production and who else in this play is going to blow people away with their performance.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line of dialogue in the show?

Brad Rudy (BR): “I’m a river of many moods.” Padre is describing himself to the other crooks.

(LF): Why did you want to be involved in this production?

Brad Rudy

(BR): I wanted to be in this production because a) I’ve only been in one other Norm Foster play in my whole career, and he has become rather ubiquitous, b) I last worked with director Jamie Williams over 25 years ago when we were both actors at the Stratford Festival and I was excited to work with him as a director, c) I’ve never worked with Derek as an actor; he’s only ever directed me, so I couldn’t wait to share his energy onstage, d) I love playing a ‘heavy’ character, e) I welcome any opportunity to work at Lighthouse, and f) Jamie offered me a great role and I was available.

(LF): Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away? 

(BR): That’s the toughest question of all. Without intending to sound diplomatic, there is something about what each guy is doing that will probably blow people away. But Alan is the only actor I had never met before and he is VERY funny; he certainly makes it difficult for me to keep a straight face. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(BR): Hopefully all the plot twists and character revelations will surprise people. In a comedy like this, you don’t want the audience to be ahead of you or the jokes just won’t work.

(LF): When did you first perform? 

(BR): I first performed for Lighthouse Theatre about 5 or 6 years ago in a play called Something Fishy, playing identical twins. Those were some quick costume changes! If you are asking about when I became a professional actor, it was in 1980 in a production called Alberta Song, while I was still in university.

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Allan Cooke as Dale

Allan Cooke is taking on the hilarious role of Dale in Norm Foster’s A Pack of Thieves this week but he’s well-known on the Lighthouse stage. He’s had various Roles in THE REAL SHERLOCK HOLMES, taken on the role of Oscar Gervaise in STAGE FRIGHT, and had various Roles in THE FULL MOUNTIE. Elsewhere, he’s been involved with a number of productions at Upper Canada Playhouse and took on the role of Reggie in CBS’s CLARICE. He’s very happy to be back in Port Dover and we caught up with him to chat about who will love this show, why he wanted to be involved with it and who’d he play if he had the chance to take on a different role in A Pack of Thieves.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What sort of person is going to love this show?

Allan Cooke (AC): Horse thieves! (and, perhaps, some horses) … and all lovers of Norm Fosters wit-with-heart brand of comedy. This one is classic Foster.

(LF): Why did you want to be involved in this production?

Allan Cooke

(AC): So many reasons. Chiefly among them, working with the crew at the Lighthouse is always a positive experience. Working with Derek and Jamie again too, albeit in different capacities from how we’d worked in the past, I knew we’d really dig into this script in the best, most fun, way possible. And Moose Tracks ice-cream on the beach is nice too. 

(LF): What are people going to be talking about in the car on the way home from this show? 

(AC): Probably (hopefully!) how well cast it was. Jeff, Brad, Brad and Derek; I can’t imagine any other people playing these roles now, they inhabit them perfectly. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(AC): There’s a few cool twists and turns in the script. But I hate spoilers, so I’ll shut up now. I ain’t no rat.

(LF): If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be? 

(AC): Again, I can’t see anyone else except our cast playing these characters, so I’ll re-cast myself as the looming off-stage presence of Langford Pangborn. Or the Maitre D at Santinos. Or the horse (Front-end). 

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Brad Austin as Chip

Brad Austin has graced the Lighthouse stage three previous times, including Sean in last year’s HALFWAY THERE, Ted in THE FOURSOME, and Tony in GROUNDED. He’s also appeared in Drayton’s productions of HILDA’S YARD and MELVILLE BOYS. He’s likely also familiar to you on the small screen, most recently in the ACCUSED for FOX, THE BOYS for AMAZON PRIME ViDEO, and SCHITT’S CREEK for CBC. He’s very happy to be back at Lighthouse, as it’s one of his favorite theatres with the hands-down the best audiences and he’s grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great team on this hilarious show! 

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the stage? 

Brad Austin (BA): I’d be lying if I said anything other than golf. Boring I know, but there it is. It’s the hardest, most frustrating, game I’ve ever played and I love it.

Brad Austin in 2022’s Halfway There by Norm Foster with Debra Hale, Susan Henley, Melodee Finlay & Kristen Da Silva.

(LF): Besides yourself, which celebrity would you like to see tackle this role?

(BA): Sam Rockwell. Hands down.

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(BA): But that would ruin the surprise! 

(LF): What sort of person is going to love this show?

(BA): There are three types of people who will love this show. People who love to laugh, people who like to have a good time, and people who want to stick it to their insurance company!

(LF): Who has the best costume?

(BA): It’s a toss up between the Twins and Rubber. Both are inspired and hilarious. 

An Interview with Norm Foster

Foster’s A Pack of Thieves premieres at Lighthouse Festival on August 16th

We sat down with Canadian playwright legend Norm Foster to talk about his new play, A Pack of Thieves, making its world premiere on the Lighthouse stage on August 16th, 2023.

Interview with Norm Foster

Review: Where You Are on stage at Lighthouse Festival

Port Dover’s Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s production of Where You Are opens with sisters Suzanne and Glenda sitting on their front porch on Manitoulin Island.

By Sharon Grose | Ontario Farmer Magazine

July 27, 2023

Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s summer production of Where You Are (by Kristen da Silva) opens with sisters Suzanne (Melanie Janzen) and Glenda (Susan Henley) sitting on their front porch on Manitoulin Island. Suzanne is bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t need a rooster to be her alarm clock. Glenda can get up at the crack of dawn with the rooster and chickens if she wants but Suzanne would just as soon sleep in until noon. Glenda just returned from church and Suzanne itching to find out the all the town gossip- why else does one go to church in a small town?

Front Entrance of Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover – Ontario Farmer Magazine

Sisters Glenda and Suzanne live a quiet retirement lifestyle selling homemade jam and hawthorn berry jelly on Manitoulin Island. This summer, their focusing on trying to orchestrate sightings of their handsome veterinarian neighbour and prepping for the visit of Suzanne’s grown daughter, Beth (Caroline Toal). But the things are complicated by a secret the sisters can no longer contain. Glenda and Suzanne apparently aren’t the only ones keeping secrets. When Beth lands on the island and admits to having some secrets of her own the three women realize it’s time to face things that will change the course of their lives. Secrets can no longer be secrets.

Suzanne and Glenda are totally devoted to each other and manage to share a house despite their different lifestyles. Suzanne raised her daughter – single handedly but continues to struggle to find the balance between mothering and smothering her daughter. Beth and Suzanne constantly clash. Suzanne is judgmental and critical of everything Beth does. They have a strained mother- daughter relationship. Glenda widowed, is a doting beloved Aunt to Beth and tries to keep the peace between mother and daughter which is not an easy task.

Then there is the cute guy who lives next door – the young veterinarian named Patrick (Gaelan Beatty) who is still getting over being left at the alter by his fiancé. There are some interesting connections between Beth and Patrick due to common denominators – both are rebounding from a recent break up, both are doctors – although one treats people while the other treats animals. Their various roles in the medical field make for some humorous moments. Will something develop between Beth and Patrick- only time will tell. If the two sisters have anything to say about it – definitely yes. But the two women have more things to deal with than budding relationships. Suzanne and Glenda start experimenting with weed – for medicinal purposes. The two are higher than a kite when they are discovered by Beth. Some candid discussions about life, love and mortality follow.

Caroline Toal, Melanie Janzen & Susan Henley in Where You Are by Kristen Da Silva

There is an interesting mix of funny and somber moments in this play. Simple lessons in life that gets you to thinking about appreciating people and the importance of family and community.

You won’t want to miss seeing this Canadian play at Lighthouse Festival Theatre. It is on n stage in Port Dover at Festival Theatre until Aug 5th and then on stage at Roselawn Theatre in Port Colborne from August 9th to August 20th.

Lighthouse Festival Theatre company was formed in 2022 bringing Port Dover’s Old Town Hall theatre and Port Colborne Roselawn theatre together as one theatre family.

Ontario Farmer readers can also attend two other Lighthouse Festival productions A Pack of Thieves by Norm Foster (Aug 16-Sept 2nd at Port Dover, or Sept 6-Sept 17 at Port Colborne, and Opry Gold with The Wayward Wind Band (Sept 5th-Sept 16 in Port Dover, Sept 20-Sept 24 in Port Colborne).

Tickets any of the show can be ordered by calling Lighthouse Festival Box Office 1-888-779-7703 or online

Review: Lighthouse Theatre’s winning streak continues with Where You Are

By Mike Renzella | The Haldimand Press

July 27, 2023

PORT DOVER—2023 has been a year of great, emotional comedy at Lighthouse Theatre and Where You Are – the newest show to hit their Port Dover stage – is no exception, bringing another heaping serving of the laughs and pathos that are the bread and butter of Lighthouse’s ever-popular summer series.

Melanie Janzen as Suzanne & Susan Henley as Glenda in Kristen Da Silva’s Where You Are, directed by Jane Spence.

Directed by Jane Spence from a script by Kristen Da Silva, Where You Are tells the story of Glenda and Suzanne, two aging sisters who live together and sell homemade jam out of their small home on Manitoulin Island. When Suzanne’s daughter Beth comes home for a summer visit, secrets are revealed, relationships are put to the test, and life-changing decisions are made.

The play stars Susan Henley as Glenda, Melanie Janzen as Suzanne, Caroline Toal as Beth, and Gaelan Beatty as their good-natured neighbour Patrick.

Janzen and Henley make for a great comic duo in the show, gamely throwing one-liners at each other throughout, and believably selling the play’s more dramatic moments, the most touching of which revolve around their long-lasting, genuine friendship.

Toal imbues her character Beth with a believable vulnerability, proving a great foil to Janzen and Henley’s comedic exploits. While her character may be a bit hard-headed at times, it’s clear that Beth deeply loves her mom and aunt, and the childhood home she has returned to.

As the neighbour Patrick, Beatty brings the charm, making a great straight man to the comedy flying around on stage and displaying a natural chemistry with Toal as the two character’s stories begin to entwine over the course of the show.

Director Spence stages the show lightly, making the best of a witty script and more-than-capable performers. She described what drew her to the show, “It shares a powerful message about the difficulties that arise when secrets are kept, even with the best intentions. It explores what it means to love unconditionally, examining the struggles we sometimes face to give our loved ones the room to live life on their own terms, especially when their choices may differ from the ones we would make for them.”

Where You Are marks Spence’s fifth show for Lighthouse, also taking on this year’s On The Air earlier in the season. 

Gealan Beatty as Patrick and Caroline Toal as Beth in Kristen Da Silva’s Where You Are, directed by Jane Spence.

Writer Da Silva is also no stranger to the Lighthouse stage, having also written Sugar Road, Beyond the Sea, and Hurry Hard, and appearing as an actor as well. Her shows have been mounted at several venues around Ontario, and for good reason; Da Silva’s shows are guaranteed to be two things: hilarious and sincere. 

Where You Are is playing at Port Dover’s Lighthouse Theatre until August 5. It then moves Port Colborne’s Roselawn Theatre from August 9-20.

For more information, visit, where you can find information on showtimes for this show and the remainder of Lighthouse’s 2023 summer season. 

Up next at the theatre is the Young Company production of Robin Hood, which is running from August 9-12, followed by the World Premiere of Norm Foster’s latest show, A Pack of Thieves, and the season topper, Opry Gold.