Tag: Cast Profile

Meet the Cast of Murder at Ackerton Manor – Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski as Curtiss + other roles

Last summer, Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski wowed audiences in Mark Crawford’s Bed and Breakfast, playing a number of roles, including Brett, one of the two main protagonists. To say that Bed and Breakfast was a success would be an understatement. In fact, over 400 people came to see this production who hadn’t previously been to Lighthouse Festival before. The ability to tell stories that sometimes aren’t typically told is often the crux of what theatre is meant to do; to inspire, to teach, to convey, and to entertain. Bed and Breakfast was all of these things and more, so we’re so pleased that Adrian is back this summer, playing Curtiss and other roles in Steven Gallagher’s comedic murder-mystery, Murder at Ackerton Manor. We caught up with Adrian to talk about the best piece of advice he’s ever received, the challenge of playing multiple roles, and how he maintains his performance energy.

Maquette for Murder at Ackerton Manor
Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski as Curtiss

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Can you describe your first theatre experience from an acting perspective? 

Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski (ASG): In Grade 2 I was the narrator of my class Hallowe’en play. I dressed as a vampire with plastic fangs that made it difficult to speak. I got one of my first-ever laughs when at the top of the show I announced to the audience, in my best seven-year-old deadpan, “Excuse me. I have to take my teeth out.” 

(LF): What’s the best piece of acting advice you’ve ever received? 

(ASG): My high school drama teacher boiled acting down to this: “Inhale…AND PROJECT!” Hard to argue with that.

(LF): What are the challenges and rewards of live theatre compared to other forms of acting?

(ASG):  The obvious challenge with live theatre is that you can’t go back and undo your dumb mistakes–it’s happening in real time. But that’s part of the energy and magic that’s totally unique to live comedy. Anything can happen, and very often it does.

(LF): What are the challenges of playing multiple roles in the same production, like you did in Bed and Breakfast and will do in Murder at Ackerton Manor?

(ASG): I’m a simple man who loves doing silly voices, and switching between them is just like learning a dance or a knitting pattern, or driving stick. The real challenge with playing multiple characters is making sure I’m not having so much fun with the silly voices that I forget to think about them as real people.

(LF): How do you maintain your performance energy throughout a long run?

(ASG): There are lots of technical tricks for staying energized in a long run, like concentrating on your character’s desires and intentions, finding different points of focus every show, doing jumping jacks, and so on. But it’s actually pretty easy to keep your energy up in a great comedy, which Murder at Ackerton Manor is. Every night there’s a new audience in the house to hear our jokes, and we truly can’t wait to share them with you.

Meet the Cast of Doris and Ivy in the Home – Ian Deakin as Arthur Beech

Ian Deakin is making his Lighthouse debut in Norm Foster’s Doris and Ivy in the Home, on stage in Port Dover from May 22 to June 8 and in Port Colborne from June 12 to 23. He’s worked at Stratford Festival in a number of productions, and state side in productions on New York and Chicago stages. We chatted with Ian about what roles mentors played in his career, what drew him to the character of Arthur, and how he sees the role of theatre in today’s society.

Ian Deakin as Arthur Beech

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What role did mentors play in your career?

Ian Deakin (ID): I was lucky enough to have as my mentors some of the Theatre worlds acting royalty. John Neville, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Tony Randall, Len Cariou, to name a few.  Watching observing, listening and being encouraged and nurtured by any mentor is vital to a young actor hoping to make it in this business, and have any chance of a lengthy career. Unlike the instant gratification world surrounding much of our society now, actors must be willing to adapt. 

(LF): What drew you to this character in Doris and Ivy?

(ID): I’ve known playwright Norm Foster for decades, and have appeared in several of his productions. My character in “Doris and Ivy in the Home “ is an eccentric and heartfelt role, but essentially fulfills the playwright’s promise of lots of laughs too. And Norm has been serving up his comedy style from the very beginnings of his long and prolific career, much to the delight of audiences across Canada and around the world. 

(LF): How do you see the role of theatre in today’s society?

(ID):  Live performance is a fragile art form, and we could see that when our whole industry shut down for three years during the pandemic. We rely on an audience for our existence. It is returning  like a phoenix  from the ashes, but it is different, and will continue to evolve moving forward. We continue to fight against film and television, and for a minority of the general public’s hard earned entertainment dollar.

(LF): How do you balance personal life and the demanding schedule of theatre productions?

(ID): Life in live theatre can be difficult. You have to sacrifice home life for much travel, low wages, constant rejection, short contracts, and you are only as good as your last performance. But you make a career doing the job you love, and that is worth all the hardships that may come your way. 

(LF): What advice would you give to aspiring theatre actors?

(ID): If  have any advice for young actors, make sure you get your training before you take to the stage. Pay your dues, and don’t think stardom is either entitled or the goal. Experiencing the joys of collaboration to produce a well crafted play in truthful storytelling is what will give you the most reward.