Lighthouse Theatre’s new show a mix of Agatha Christie and Mel Brooks (Haldimand Press)

By Mike Renzella | The Haldimand Press

June 13, 2024

PORT DOVER—If you have ever wondered how legendary comedy director Mel Brooks might adapt an Agatha Christie mystery novel, you’re in luck. Lighthouse Theatre’s newest production, ‘Murder at Ackerton Manor,’ now on stage at Port Dover’s theatre, promises a healthy dose of both.

Murder at Ackerton Manor playwright and director Steven Gallagher.

Actor and playwright Steven Gallagher is directing his own script for his Lighthouse debut. With 35 years of acting experience across Canada, Gallagher began his career as a writer about 20 years ago.

“I grew up in a small town that happened to have a little theatre in it. The first time I went to the theatre, I don’t remember what play it was, but I know I went with my mom. She loved Agatha Christie. It was a murder mystery that took place in some sort of manor,” recalled Gallagher. “This is my homage to those Agatha Christie plays, but it’s also sort of a spoof of those plays.” 

The show, set in a country manor, centres around the murder of owner Roger Ackerton, described by Gallagher as a “horrible human being.”

“We see him murdered by an unseen murderer in the first five minutes of the play,” he said. “Then the next two hours we meet all the suspects in the play.”

All of those characters will be portrayed by just three actors, with returning Lighthouse performers Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski (Bed and Breakfast) and Eliza-Jane Scott (Come Down From Up River) being joined by newcomer Andrew Scanlon.

Eliza-Jane Scott, Andrew Scanlon & Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski in Murder at Ackerton Manor.

“We have this amazing group of actors who are really invested in the style and tone of the show and they’re having a great time on stage,” said Gallagher. “They play seven different characters, with full costume changes. One actor plays the butler, he also plays the gardener and a southern belle. Another actor plays the dead person’s sister as well as a German scientist.” 

He warned audiences to not get too caught up in the laughter, however.

“There is a real mystery. We don’t divulge the killer until the very end. A lot of people are kept guessing, we hope…. Everyone is a suspect in our play. We balance the murder-mystery with the zaniness of the farce as well,” said Gallagher.

Guests will have the opportunity to guess the killer during the show’s intermission, adding to the Clue-like fun of the evening.

“We want to make sure (attendees) are interested in guessing who the killer is, while laughing as well,” he said.

Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski, Andrew Scanlon & Eliza-Jane Scott in Murder at Ackerton Manor.

As for the Mel Brooks influence, Gallagher added, “I love physical comedy. There’s a lot of verbal and physical puns. I love Mel Brooks’ irreverence, and how far can you go without crossing a line.”

Those interested in joining in the hunt for the murderer can catch ‘Murder at Ackerton Manor’ at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre until June 29. It then moves to Port Colborne’s Roselawn Theatre, where you can catch it from July 3-14.

For tickets and more info, visit, or call the box office at 1-888-779-7703.

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.