By Donna McMillan | Port Dover Maple Leaf
Originally published June 14, 2023
ROBIN Williams was a hugely popular Radio DJ in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Ditto the many on-air personalities at MyFM, Simcoe. The Loon, a small fourth-rated radio station on Lake Kashagakaganee in Northern Ontario, is not so fortunate. In fact, no one, or almost no one, is listening.
The world premiere of “On the Air” hit the airwaves and lit up the stage at Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover on Thursday night’s official opening of actor and playwright Ephraim Ellis’ first play. The founding station manager has died, leaving behind a motley crew of flawed but funny characters who are at odds on what could bring better ratings and more listeners to The Loon.
The ensemble of characters include: Alice, hesitant and neurotic, assigned the legacy of station manager by the deceased; Adrian, the prodigal son who has returned from “Toronto” to handle his dad’s estate and maybe revive the station; deep-pockets Art who thinks he can buy his way into playing whatever weird genre he wants on air; Buck, the seedy, has-been rocker who is stuck on one favourite song to play over and over; and Courtney, the hip-hop-loving young risk taker.
All are perfect foils to each other’s character limitations and eccentricities. Family dynamics, personal insecurities and romantic inclinations bring angst and humour to the stage– not to mention dead “on air” and being locked in the sound booth for an all-nighter.
JD Leslie is Courtney in her LFT debut. She has performed numerous times elsewhere, including Factory Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, Young People’s Theatre and more.
Matt is played by LFT veteran Adrian Marchuk who has performed as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys in Toronto and Las Vegas as well as on stage at Tarragon Theatre, Panasonic Theatre and more.
Lisa Norton, who is Alice in this play, has performed in two other LFT productions as well as in Murdoch Mysteries, Transformers: Botbots on Netflix and other theatres.
David Rosser is Art in On the Air and has been at LFT for three other productions; one as director. He has had a number of roles in TV and film as well as playing Flynn in Chicago at the Globe Theatre and more.
Stephen Sparks, barely recognizable as Buck, has been in several LFT productions, a number of TV and film venues including Murdoch Mysteries, Star Trek SNW, The Sound of Music, Mama Mia and others.
Beckie Morris created a fantastic set complete with broadcasting booth and station office. Other members of the Creative Team are Kevin Fraser, Lighting Designer, Alex Amini, Costume Designer, Daniele Guillaume, Stage Manager and Sara Allison, Assistant Stage Manager. Jane Spence, also a LFT veteran, directed this play.
“On the Air” is on stage in Port Dover until June 24. For tickets, visit the Main Street Box Office, call 519-583-2221 or visit online at lighthousetheatre.com.