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Lighthouse Festival donates $30,000 worth of tickets to community organizations.

Lighthouse Festival has wrapped up a donation campaign that saw $30,000 worth of complimentary tickets given to fellow non-profit and charitable organizations throughout the Norfolk County and Port Colborne area. 

“It’s been talked about to no end, but the fact remains that the pandemic was rough for so many in our community,” shares Lighthouse Artistic Director, Derek Ritschel. “Businesses, families, individuals, everybody. Lighthouse is fortunate that we have such a passionate and dedicated base of supporters that helped us navigate the past couple of years. And now that we’re looking at our first full season at the theatre in over 30 months, we wanted to support the communities that show us so much support. We’re so proud to operate in Norfolk County and Port Colborne.” 

Lighthouse is doing what they do best, providing a “leave your worries at the door” night out on the town with some first rate, professional comedy theatre. But this year those who might not have been able to attend can take in a show compliments of Lighthouse. “We wanted to get these tickets to those that would have not been able to go otherwise,” shares Ritschel. “What we do at Lighthouse Festival really is for everybody, and laughter is good for the soul. We hope they can enjoy a show this summer on us, and experience the joy of theatre.”

Organizations that received complimentary tickets this summer include:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Erie
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oxford County 
  • Community Living Access
  • Simcoe Caring Cupboard 
  • Port Cares
  • Port Dover Food Bank
  • Waterford Food Cupboard 
  • Youth Unlimited Norfolk

Volunteers Needed in Port Colborne!

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Volunteers Needed!

Want to have a fun social activity? Love live theatre performances?  Do you want to do something that is satisfying and a service to your community? Then become a Lighthouse Festival volunteer!

Volunteers are needed at our theatre in Port Colborne!

We have over 90 performances planned this year and need your help to greet, scan tickets and usher patrons to their seats while ensuring everyone has a great time.

Only 2 qualifications needed!

A welcoming personality and a Vulnerable Sector Police check.  You provide the personality and we will help you with the Police check!!

To volunteer in Port Colborne join us at the Roselawn Theatre on Fielden Ave on April 22 from 10am to 4pm.

Can’t join us?  Send us an email at

Let the shows begin!!

New look, same great experience!

One great festival, two great locations

Lighthouse emerges from the pandemic with a fresh new look and a powerful 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.  

This mission is reflected in a new identity as Lighthouse Festival. 

This is the power of merging Showboat and Lighthouse, 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.

This rebrand reflects what has been a reality for nearly a decade – audiences in Port Dover and Port Colborne will continue to enjoy the same top-quality, professional shows and the same unforgettable experience, backed by one dedicated team working in both communities. 

Rebranding as Lighthouse Festival will make the patron experience even better. Our new, easy-to-use website allows patrons to purchase show tickets and plan getaways to both theatres with the click of a button.

The transformation of Roselawn 

In partnership with the City of Port Colborne, Lighthouse staff were hard at work during the pandemic, renovating and reimagining the former Showboat space. The theatre now boasts a streamlined layout and more amenities to make the patron experience at Roselawn even more special.

“The moment you enter, you will see a whole new world, 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.”

Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director

This transformation builds on the solid foundation and storied history inherited from Showboat Festival Theatre when Showboat and Lighthouse first joined forces in 2012. Lighthouse Festival is proud to carry forward and expand on Showboat’s legacy of meaningful cultural contributions to the Niagara region and beyond – for many decades to come.

We cannot wait to throw open the doors of what we proudly envisions as a community space and artistic hub for Port Colborne and the surrounding area. Live theatre is returning to the Roselawn Theatre in Port Colborne, and we here at Lighthouse Festival could not be more excited to introduce you to your new theatre.


Lighthouse Festival Announces Summer Productions

As the province moves into Phase 3 of re-opening, Lighthouse Festival announces the return of live theatre to Port Dover. Audiences will be treated to two world premiere productions this summer. The shows are two new one act plays; a one-man comedy from Mark Crawford and a Lighthouse commissioned play from Kristin Da Silva. With regulations allowing more audience members to attend outdoor theatre, performances will take place under a tent on the grounds of the Links at Dover Coast golf course. Moving outdoors allows Lighthouse to welcome a reduced audience of 54 people to each performance with health and safety protocols in place for all attendees, including wearing a face covering to and from their seats.   

“With hope and positivity overflowing all around the county and province as life returns to some semblance of normality, we are delighted to begin our re-opening journey with a hilarious one act play from Mark Crawford,“ said Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director of Lighthouse. “An audience of 54 is only a sliver of the normally packed theatre we are used to playing to, but it is beyond energizing to be back with any sized audience and a great first step to returning to sold out performances and a full summer season by 2022.”  

Crawford’s play Chase the Ace is a story about Charlie King, a big city radio host who is forced to manage a small-town station. Not only does a pandemic begin his first week, but he finds himself chasing a story of municipal corruption. Da Silva’s Beyond The Sea finds Theo and Gwen, two strangers, who begin a conversation on a pier in a small town. With humour and heart, they explore love, loss and the importance of looking forward.  

Lighthouse knew outdoor theatre was the key to this summer’s performances and started looking for potential venues in April. Ritschel mentioned this in passing to Mark Stortini, COO of Dover Coast, who immediately offered the use of his professional event tent at the golf course the Links at Dover Coast. 

“Lighthouse is eternally grateful to the community partners who have helped us reach this critical re-opening milestone. We are appreciative of Execulink Telecom for returning as the Season Presenter even before we knew what our summer playbill would look like, the McKeil family for their generous support and to the Links at Dover Coast for giving us a temporary home where we can get back to doing what we do best, making people laugh,” said Executive Director Nicole Campbell. Lighthouse would also like to recognize the Province of Ontario, who provided funding during the pandemic to help us purchase the necessary health and safety equipment needed for re-opening.  

Performances of Chase The Ace are set to begin Friday July 23 to August 8 and Beyond the Sea will run from August 24 to September 12. Tickets will go on sale to the public Tuesday July 20. 

Lighthouse Festival and Simcoe Little Theatre forge new partnership 

Lighthouse Festival and Simcoe Little Theatre have come together to secure a vibrant future for the community run theatre. The new relationship will see Lighthouse Festival manage the theatre building, providing resources and leadership in facility upkeep, administration, technical effects and artistic guidance. By leveraging Lighthouse’s resources and facility management experience, local community artists can continue to dream and inspire on the Simcoe Little Theatre stage. The new relationship gives SLT the security to be viable for generations to come so that as a volunteer run organization it may continue to entertain season after season and realize it’s mandate to joyfully create a first-rate community theatre experience for people of all ages and abilities.  

“It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to witness, and play a small role in impacting future Arts and Cultural development in our community.  But that is exactly what has happened as Simcoe Little Theatre and the Lighthouse Festival have concluded a collaborative agreement, whereby SLT will continue as a Volunteer Community Theatre with the professional assistance and expertise of LFT,” explained Richard Gilbert, SLT President.  

As far as I can tell this will be the first time in Canadian theatre history that a Professional theatre and a Community theatre will have joined forces. I love the idea that we will be making history together,” said Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director for Lighthouse Festival. “By joining forces, Simcoe Little Theatre will be able to leverage Lighthouse’s professional theatre capabilities; and Lighthouse will be able to ensure that Simcoe Little Theatre will be a place for local artists to create and inspire for decades to come. I can’t wait to watch them shine.” 

Simcoe Little Theatre has maintained a proud tradition of a community theatre run by the community for the community. Lighthouse could not be more honoured and proud to support and empower all the community artists who will continue to entertain the next generation of theatre lovers. 

Execulink renews support for Lighthouse Festival Theatre

Lighthouse Festival is thrilled to announce that Execulink Telecom have renewed their sponsorship as season presenter for 2021. A community-oriented local business, Execulink recognizes the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the theatre community and are dedicated to supporting Lighthouse in their efforts to re-open later this year.   

Execulink knows the important role that the arts play in a community, bringing the diverse stories of playwrights to life on the stage through professional productions and allowing youth and locals to express themselves creatively. “We are thrilled to be supporting creative and educational activities in the Port Dover community through our partnership with Lighthouse Festival,” said Andrea Atkinson, Vice President Customer Experience at Execulink Telecom. “All that we do in our communities continues to be driven by our Vision, Mission, and Values, and we look forward to the journey as Lighthouse works toward presenting a 2021 season, welcoming patrons from near and far to once again enjoy live theatre.” 

For Lighthouse, Execulink has been a committed partner, especially during the pandemic where their services made the transition to working from home easy and reliable. “Execulink has been an incredible partner, their services have helped our team stay connected during this challenging time, and now are helping us get back to doing what we do best, producing great Canadian comedies that make our audiences roar with laughter.” Said Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director of Lighthouse Festival “We are incredibly appreciative of Execulink’s continued support and look forward to our growing partnership.”  

Execulink became Lighthouse’s first ever season presenter in 2019, a summer season that welcomed more than 40,000 people to the theatre. Lighthouse is eager for the return of live theatre in Port Dover and to continue contributing as an economic driver for the region. Partnerships with community leaders like Execulink are vital to a successful reopening this year.  

Lighthouse Festival to offer year round entertainment in Port Colborne

 Lighthouse Festival is thrilled to share that they have entered into a five-year agreement with the City of Port Colborne to take on the artistic and facility management of the theatre at the Roselawn Centre for the Arts. This agreement gives Lighthouse full control of the entertainment offering at the theatre for the entire year and the ability to upgrade the theatre space to better meet the needs of its patrons and artists. The heritage Roselawn mansion that is also part of the Centre for the Arts will continue to be managed by the city.  

Lighthouse started bringing their summer season to the Roselawn Theatre in 2012, a partnership that was embraced by theatre lovers in Port Colborne and the Niagara region. Attendance increased and annual subscriptions doubled leading Lighthouse to increase the season from four weeks to the current ten weeks.  

Lighthouse is eager to continue to produce their summer season featuring five comedies as well as host guest events and performances all year round once provincial pandemic guidelines permit. They are excited to deliver more local entertainment to Port Colborne’s residents and provide additional attractions to the city’s robust tourism offering. Lighthouse Festival has been developing relationships with guest performers and acts for 40 years in Port Dover and is thrilled to offer those artists another venue with a dedicated audience.  

“On behalf of City Council and staff, we’re thrilled to partner with Lighthouse Festival to manage the Roselawn Theatre,” said Mayor Bill Steele. “Arts and culture are an important part of this community, and this opportunity will expand theatre and entertainment in Port Colborne for residents and visitors. We look forward to working closely with Lighthouse Festival to enhance the creative, artistic, and vibrant energy in the city.” 

 This new agreement speaks to Lighthouse’s mandate to grow theatre in rural Southern Ontario and make it available to as many people as possible, to support and encourage local and regional artists, and to provide enrichment and opportunity for the community with a central policy of accessibility, affordability and hospitality. 

“There is nothing more rewarding to a region than having a successful live theatre thriving in a community. It quickly becomes a place for people to come together and share. A place to laugh and cheer together. A place to be proud of.” said Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director of Lighthouse Festival. “Lighthouse has every intention of taking what exists at the Roselawn Theatre and dramatically scaling up the live experience for everyone who crosses her threshold. I could not be more pleased to add the Roselawn Theatre to the provincial map of successful live theatres in Ontario.” 

Taking on the management of the facility has allowed Lighthouse to use this pandemic period of pause to start improvements at the Roselawn Theatre. New technical equipment that will enhance the live events has been installed, including new lighting and major upgrades to the sound capabilities of the auditorium.  A new lobby, bar and art gallery will also await all who come to Roselawn Theatre when it re-opens.   

Lighthouse Festival is a thriving professional theatre company devoted to the development and production of new and existing Canadian plays. A source of enjoyment, involvement and pride for their community in Port Dover and now in Port Colborne, Lighthouse is thrilled to present artistically excellent productions in two port towns on Lake Erie.  

Lighthouse 2020 Year End AGM

Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s AGM for the 2020 fiscal year will be held on Thursday April 23, 2021 at 7pm via Zoom. For information on how to attend, please contact

Lighthouse Festival Theatre receives additional support from McKeil Family Foundation

The McKeil Family Foundation has once again stepped forward with a gift of $50,000 in support of Lighthouse Festival Theatre. COVID-19 has had an enormous effect on the arts and for the first time in its 41-year history, the charitable arts organization has sat dark for more than a year.

From actors and directors, to set designers and crew, the ripple effect, loss of employment and economic impact, due to the pandemic, has been significant. The reduced staff at Lighthouse have been working diligently behind the closed doors of the theatre, following the constantly changing health and safety guidelines in preparation for re-opening. The small team have continued adapting their plans in response to local and provincial case numbers, while maintaining the iconic historical theatre building and clocktower so that it is ready to welcome patrons back when it is safe to do so.

The McKeil Family Foundation recognizes the importance that Lighthouse Festival Theatre brings to Port Dover and the multi-layered impact it has on the community. “This past year has been incredibly challenging for so many. Kathy and I hope this gift helps Lighthouse navigate through 2021 and all those that benefit from this theatre. Lighthouse Theatre is both a jewel in the community and a strong economic driver that touches the lives of thousands of people. We feel privileged to be a part of it,” says Blair McKeil.

As Lighthouse prepares multiple scenarios in hopes for a summer offering, they are thrilled and grateful to receive continued support from the McKeil Family Foundation. “When Blair and Kathy called to ask how they could help with our re-opening goals, I was moved beyond words,” says Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director of Lighthouse. “It has been difficult to have our doors closed, and re-opening remains a moving target. To have the McKeil’s show their support and understanding is incredibly encouraging. This gift will help bring live theatre back to Port Dover in 2021.”

The McKeil Family Foundation previously pledged $100,000 for the Light Up The Stage matching campaign which resulted in a total of $214,000 raised for the theatre. Lighthouse looks to share their plans for a summer series of productions in the late spring.

For more information on how you can support Lighthouse Festival Theatre, contact Caitlin O’Neill (

Light Up The Stage A Tremendous Success

Cast of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (2017

We are thrilled to announce that the Light Up The Stage campaign was a tremendous success!

Through the support of our donors, patrons and community partners, we achieved 14% over our goal.  Combined with the McKeil Family Foundation’s gift of $100,000, we collectively raised $214,585.

Lighthouse is incredibly grateful to live in a community that values and champions live theatre and we are proud of the role Lighthouse Theatre plays in the cultural life of Norfolk County and beyond.

Thank you to everyone who helped support our campaign.  From our donors and partners who made gifts, to our community and professional actors, directors and stage crew who helped with video messages of support and encouragement, we say, step up and take a bow.

Together, we did Light Up The Stage!

Watch the Thank You Video Here

2021 Season Update from Artistic Director Derek Ritschel


As hard as it is to believe, we are only a few steps away from November. By this time of the year we would be well into planning for our 2021 season at both theatres. You, our fans and patrons, would have your tickets purchased and seats selected for the productions on the playbill that piqued your interest. Set designs would be drafted for construction and the actors would start receiving the final scripts for preparations. The machine that is Lighthouse and Showboat would be in full swing.

However, this year, things are a bit different.

This year we must be patient and mindful of how we move forward. Between Lighthouse and Showboat we present up to four shows a day and are responsible for the safety of up to 1200 patrons on those days. Not to mention all the staff, volunteers and technicians who work so hard to make your visits memorable ones.

So, we are choosing patience, to make sure that when we do announce next summer’s playbill it will respect where the world stands and inform us of the responsible way forward with everyone’s safety in the leading role.

But know this, we will move forward. Make no mistake about that. We will return next summer!
We are sitting on eight different scenarios for next summer and in the new year we will select the scenario that makes the most sense. That’s when the fun begins. That’s when you find out what the shows are and our rehearsal hall becomes a rocket ship of creativity. And when you arrive a few months later … we will be ready to entertain you all summer long!

One thing we can share with you now – it will be an entirely Canadian playbill!

No question it’s been a tough year for theatres. To lose an entire season has been breathtaking … to say the least. But with your continued support Lighthouse and Showboat have been able to quietly improve during this closure so that one day soon, they will shine brighter than ever before … of that I am sure.

From all of us here, we thank you for being with us all these years and I honestly can’t wait to see you back in your seats next summer, laughing at my poor opening speeches, laughing throughout some terrific shows, and then laughing again on your way home.  

Laughter is the best medicine my friends.
And there’s plenty coming for you next summer.  
Most sincerely,

Derek Ritschel
Artistic Director

Lighthouse Festival 50/50 Draw Winner

Lighthouse Festival Theatre is pleased to announce the winner of the season-long 50/50 draw. Roger Campbell from Paris, ON won $1,140.00 on ticket #02455.

Lighthouse is grateful to everyone who purchased a ticket for the 50/50 draw and look forward to holding the draw again in the 2021 season.