Tag: lighthouse festival

Lighthouse Festival launches summer season with Norm Foster comedy

Norm Foster’s comedic hit Doris and Ivy in the Home kicks off the 2024 summer season at Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover.

May 19, 2024

The Stratford Beacon Herald

By Postmedia Staff

Directed by Lighthouse Artistic Associate Jane Spence, the production runs from May 22 to June 8 in Port Dover, followed by shows in Port Colborne from June 12 to 23.

The play is a heartfelt comedy that examines friendship, age, and the transitions of life in a retirement home setting.

“Norm foster’s writing, rich with humour and poignancy, reminds us of the importance of seeking out meaningful connections at whatever stage of life we find ourselves,” Spence observed. “Through Doris and Ivy, we witness a dynamic and touching journey of self-discovery and companionship.

“Our talented cast brings a wonderful blend of authenticity and warmth to their roles, embodying the essence of Foster’s characters with grace and charm.”

Actor Ian Deakin portrays a charming retiree named Walter.

“I’ve known playwright Norm Foster for decades and have appeared in several of his productions,” Deakin explained. “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.”

Actress Melanie Janzen stars as the wise and witty Doris.
“Doris is very much ‘what you see is what you get.’ I like her brashness and her confidence. There’s no beating around the bush with Doris,” Janzen shared. “I could stand to be a little more like her!”

Brigitte Robinson portrays the ever-optimistic Ivy, and said she was drawn to the role for the chance to work again with director Jane Spence with whom she had acted in Calendar Girls at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, and with Janzen whose work she admired in their days together at the Shaw Festival.

“I thought Doris and Ivy in the Home was Norm Foster at his best,” said Robinson. “Not only is it very funny but it shines a light on the lives and relationships of women and men as they age.”

Tickets are available now at lighthousetheatre.com, by calling the box office at 1-888-779-7703 or by visiting the theatre.

Murder at Ackerton Manor pays homage to Agatha Christie with a puzzle box of laughs

By Nathaniel Hanula-James | Intermission Magazine

Thursday, May 16, 2024

“It’s Agatha Christie meets Mel Brooks.”

That’s playwright and director Steven Gallagher’s description of Murder at Ackerton Manor, a comedy homage to the mystery novels of Agatha Christie sure to leave audiences dying of laughter when it opens on June 12 at the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover. 

“It’s set in 1950 on a dark and stormy night in a remote mansion,” Gallagher explained in a Zoom interview. “Megan Cinel, our set designer, is so collaborative and such a brilliant young artist. She came up with this beautiful, Gothic English country home set that looks like somebody’s real [house]. The detective is a French-Belgian detective,” which Gallagher says is a reference to Christie’s iconic character Hercule Poirot. 

Murder at Ackerton Manor Maquette – Designed by Megan Cinel

“All the tropes are in there,” Gallagher assured. “There’s a German professor, a dowdy British monarchist, a Southern belle.” Naturally, a murder ensues, and the culprit must be found. 

Step aside, Kenneth Branagh — Ackerton Manor is far from a straightforward adaptation of Christie’s novels. Virtuoso actors Eliza-Jane Scott (Lighthouse’s Jack and the Beanstalk), Andrew Scanlon (Drayton’s Peter Pan: The Panto), and Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski (Tarragon’s The Hooves Belonged to the Deer) play a total of seven roles, with quick changes and ridiculous accents galore.

“[Scanlon,] who plays the murder victim, also plays the detective,” Gallagher said. “He goes back and forth in flashbacks between the two. Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski, who’s six-foot-five, plays the Southern belle. [The costume changes] aren’t just hats. The actors leave and come on in full drag, then they leave and they come back as the next character. It’s a full quick change: costumes, wigs, everything. It’s an extra layer of fun and skill for the actors to really dig into.”

Murder mysteries aren’t a joke to Gallagher: they’re what introduced him to theatre in the first place. “I grew up in Quebec, in a small English town called North Hatley,” Gallagher shared. “It’s sort of like Muskoka in Ontario, in that a lot of wealthy people come from Montreal and go to this small town. It’s one of the only places [in Quebec] that has an English-language summer stock theatre, called the Piggery.” 

Gallagher would go to the Piggery with his mother, and one of the first shows he ever saw there was a murder mystery. Murder at Ackerton Manor is “an homage to my mom,” Gallagher continued, “and those times we spent together watching — probably not great plays — but the shows that really got me into loving, and going to, the theatre.”

When he began work on Ackerton Manor, Gallagher dove back into the genre he adored as a child. 

“I brought back all the [Agatha Christie] books that I had from when I was a kid,” said Gallagher. “I also watched about 50 episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and got my hands on every single murder mystery I could find, even Stephen Sondheim’s [film] The Last of Sheila that he wrote with Anthony Perkins in the ‘70s. I would get all these locked-room mysteries, [a genre in which it seems impossible for a killer to have entered and left a crime scene,] and try to figure out what I could steal. What are the tropes that are all the way through these things?

“My poor partner was like, ‘Are you up again to one o’clock watching another Miss Marple?’,” Gallagher laughed. He shared that his all-time favourite Christie novel is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, about the mysterious death of a wealthy widower. “It sort of turns the genre on its ear,” he teased. 

With its fusion of hijinks and homicide, Ackerton Manor is also a reimagining of not one, but two classic genres. Was blending farce and murder-mystery a difficult task for the playwright-director? 

“[Comedy and mystery] are similar,” explained Gallagher. “Both genres need to be tightly plotted and tightly written.” He added that he’s done some tinkering with the mystery at the heart of Ackerton Manor since the play’s premiere last year at the Bancroft Village Playhouse in Bancroft, Ont. “I’ve changed a couple of things plot-wise,” he said, “just to make sure that the [murderer] isn’t something that everybody guesses; or even if they do guess it, they might not know why until the end. People love that puzzle box.”

Gallagher hopes Murder at Ackerton Manor will encourage audience members to check out Lighthouse Festival’s other offerings, and demystify how much exciting theatre is happening throughout Ontario. 

“People who don’t even think they like theatre might come [see Ackerton] and say, ‘what else would I love to see?’,” he said. “Not just [a farce] but something more challenging too. We’re so used to seeing stuff in Toronto, which is amazing; but there’s a lot of other stuff happening in smaller spaces that people are flocking to.”


Murder at Ackerton Manor runs from June 12 to 29 at the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover, and July 3 to 14 at the Roselawn Theatre in Port Colborne. You can purchase tickets here.

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.

For Immediate Release: Lighthouse Festival Presents the first production of the 2024 Summer Season, Doris and Ivy in the Home by Norm Foster

Production runs from May 22 to June 8 in Port Dover and from June 12 to June 23 in Port Colborne

Port Dover, ONMay 6, 2024 | Lighthouse Festival is excited to present the highly-anticipated production of Norm Foster’s comedic hit, Doris and Ivy in the Home. Directed by Lighthouse Artistic Associate Jane Spence, this engaging and hilarious play features the stellar talents of Ian Deakin, Melanie Janzen, and Brigitte Robinson. The production runs from May 22nd to June 8th in Port Dover, before moving to Port Colborne from June 12th to June 23rd.

Doris and Ivy in the Home is a heartfelt comedy that explores the dynamics of friendship, age, and life transitions within the walls of a retirement home. With Foster’s signature wit and empathy, the play promises to deliver both laughter and poignant moments.

Ian Deakin, playing the role of the charming retiree Walter, expressed his excitement about the project. “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. 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.”

Melanie Janzen, who stars as the wise and witty Doris, shared her thoughts on her character, stating, “Doris is very much ‘what you see is what you get.’ I like her brashness and her confidence. There’s no beating around the bush with Doris…I could stand to be a little more like her!”

Brigitte Robinson, taking on the role of the ever-optimistic Ivy, added, “I thought Doris and Ivy in the Home was Norm Foster at his best.  Not only is it very funny but it shines a light on the lives and relationships of women and men as they age.  What also drew me to play the part of Ivy was the chance to work with the director Jane Spence, with whom I had acted in Calendar Girls at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto and with Melanie Janzen, whose work I had always admired in our days together at the Shaw Festival.”

Director Jane Spence praised her cast and the play. “Norm Foster’s writing, rich with humour and poignancy, reminds us of the importance of seeking out meaningful connections at whatever stage of life we find ourselves. Through Doris and Ivy, we witness a dynamic and touching journey of self-discovery and companionship.” She continues, “Our talented cast
brings a wonderful blend of authenticity and warmth to their roles, embodying the essence of Foster’s characters with grace and charm. I invite you to join us in celebrating these incredible stories—stories that are not just observed, but deeply felt.”

Lighthouse Festival’s production of Doris and Ivy in the Home offers a unique blend of humour and heart. With a talented cast and a seasoned director at the helm, this show is set to be one of the most talked-about theatrical events of the season.

Tickets are available now and can be purchased through the Lighthouse Festival’s website at www.lighthousetheatre.com, by calling the box office at 888-779-7703 or dropping by the theatre. Don’t miss your chance to experience this captivating play that promises to entertain and inspire.


Cast

Ian Deakin as Arthur
Melanie Janzen as Doris
Brigitte Robinson as Ivy

Creative Team

Director: Jane SpencePlaywright: Norm Foster
Set Designer: William ChesneyCostume Designer: Alex Amini
Lighting Designer: Kevin FraserStage Manager: Laura Grandfield
Assistant Stage Manager: Ben Tuck 

About Lighthouse Festival
Lighthouse Festival is a charitable organization devoted to the development and production of new and existing Canadian plays. Lighthouse Festival strives to be artistically excellent, support and encourage local and regional artists, and be a source of enjoyment and pride in local communities while promoting local tourism. Located in two beautiful towns on Lake Erie, our theatres operate on a central policy of hospitality, accessibility, and affordability for all.


Media Contact
For media inquiries, cast interviews and further information, please contact:

Don Kearney-Bourque
Marketing & Communications Manager
Lighthouse Festival Theatre Corporation
don@lighthousetheatre.com
Direct: (226) 290-0070
Cell: (289) 541-7410


“The Producers” is 2024 Comedic Musical Community Show at LFT

March 19, 2024

Port Dover Maple Leaf

By Donna McMillan

Lighthouse Festival will be kicking off its 2024 theatre season opening with its hilarious community production of the Mel Brooks Musical The Producers.  Always a huge hit with audiences, this year’s community production has drawn 16 Norfolk/Haldimand actors to LFT three times a week since rehearsals started the beginning of January. The Producers, with its outrageous story line, zany characters and uproarious music, will be playing in Port Dover April 12 to 28.  Derek Ritschel is the Director.

Mel Brooks fans may remember The Producers as a movie that hit the silver screen in 1967 and then again in 2005. The Broadway Musical ran in New York from 2001 to 2007, with 2502 performances and winning 12 Tony Awards.

“I’ve been wanting to do it (The Producers) for five or six years,” Derek told the Maple Leaf last week. “This was the right time. We got the rights and it all came together.” He reflected on the success of an earlier Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein performed as a community play on LFT stage. “It was a big hit.”

The Producers sees a formerly successful Broadway Producer, now down on his luck,  scheming with an accountant on how to get rich by convincing investors to put their money in the worst show in the world called “Springtime for Hitler.”  It features a bad script and lack lustre performers. Rather than fail, it is wildly successful; all resulting in a recipe for lots of laughs and riotous songs from “The King of Broadway”, “Der Guten Tag Hop – Clop” and “When You Got It, Flaunt it” to “In Old Bavaria”, “Keep It Gay” and “Along Came Bialy.”

Nikki Wiltac is performing in her first community play with LFT. Last week, she told the Maple Leaf she is thrilled to be part of the Ensemble, playing a number of roles including a bad chorus girl, a pigeon, an old lady, a police officer and a Bavarian peasant to name a few. She has been interested in acting since elementary school, remembering her first performance to be in Ramona and Beezus. She has also done community theatre in Simcoe and Tillsonburg as well as being in a 10-minute play competition in Brantford. “I wanted to step up and do something more professional,” she said. “It’s been an incredible learning experience. I’m learning so much from everyone from the director, the leads, ensemble and costumes.”

Mac Buchwald has always done theatre from Old Town Hall kids in Waterford to Simcoe Little Theatre. He told the Maple Leaf he was thrilled to get his first role in a LFT Community Show, playing one of the leads, Leo Bloom. “I’m a big Gene Wilder fan,” he said, noting Gene played Leo in the 1967 film version. Leo is a neurotic accountant, obsessed with his blue security blanket, he shared. Buchwald, who is working as a new English teacher at WDHS, is enjoying seeing the LFT Professional Production team supporting the amateur actors.   

For Melissa Schoeman, performing in The Producers is her first play since university ten years ago, she shared.   A number of people suggested she should act and she loved the movie, The Producers, she said. She remembers her first role was in Surfing Santa at Oneida Central School.  She performed in elementary school and in high school at Cayuga Secondary.  She has a degree in English from Wilfrid Laurier University.   Melissa plays a montage of many people as part of the ensemble, she said, including old lady, auditioner, prisoner, cop, chorus girl and more. “Oh my Gosh. It has been an amazing experience,” she told the Maple Leaf. “A lot of work. There is a certain ‘vibe’ around theatre people.  This feels like home.”   

This writer attended an hour of rehearsal last week. Without a doubt, this will be another “must see” community play that will have the audience in stitches in their seat and “wondering how something so outrageously offensive could be so funny,” as mentioned in the playbill. There is a great cast of new and popular return actors we know from past community plays. It runs from April 12 to 28.

The full cast includes: J.P. Antonnaci (Max Bialystock), Mac Buchwald (Leo Bloom), Jada Dawson (Ulla), Carmen Davis (Fran Liebkind), Jason Mayo (Roger De Bris), Don Kearney–Bourque (Carmen Ghia); Ensemble: Naomi Auld, Jaden Banfield, Charly Buck, Lyndsey Dearlove, Justine Draus, Shelby Mulder, Melissa Schoeman, Lisa Shebib, Daniel Traina, & Nikki Wiltac. For tickets, contact Lighthouse Festival Theatre at their Main Street, Port Dover box office, call 519–583–2221 or visit the website www.lighthousetheatre.com.

For Immediate Release – New Interim Executive Director Appointment at Lighthouse Festival

April 2, 2024 – PORT DOVER, ON

We are pleased to announce that the Lighthouse Festival Theatre Corporation’s Board of Directors has appointed Caitlin O’Neill, our current Operations Coordinator, as Interim Executive Director, effective Monday, April 8th, 2024. This appointment comes as our current Executive Director, Nicole Campbell, embarks on her maternity leave beginning Friday, April 5th, 2024. The Board, alongside the entire staff of Lighthouse Festival, is thrilled to welcome Caitlin into her new role. Caitlin brings a wealth of experience and passion for the arts that is sure to lead our organization through this transitional period with grace and innovation.

Nicole Campbell (Left) & Caitlin O’Neill

We also extend our warmest wishes to Nicole during her maternity leave. We celebrate this joyous occasion with her and look forward to the new addition to her family. Nicole’s leadership and vision have been instrumental in the growth and success of Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover and Port Colborne.

Please join us in congratulating Caitlin on her new role and in wishing Nicole Campbell a safe and happy maternity leave. We are confident that the Lighthouse Festival Theatre will continue to thrive under Caitlin’s interim directorship and look forward to an exciting future ahead.

For all enquiries regarding this transition, please contact Caitlin O’Neill, Interim Executive Director, at caitlin@lighthousetheatre.com or call 226-290-0068.

For Immediate Release: Lighthouse Festival Celebrates World Theatre Day 2024

A Call to Support Live Theatre in Our Community

PORT DOVER, March 27, 2024 – In honour of World Theatre Day, Lighthouse Festival is reiterating our unwavering commitment to the arts and welcomes our vibrant communities to support live theatre’s vital role in fostering creativity, bolstering the local economy, and enriching our cultural landscape.

World Theatre Day, celebrated globally on March 27th, serves as a reminder of the transformative power of the theatre: to entertain, educate, and inspire. Live theatre acts as a mirror to society, offering a unique outlet for creative talent and thought-provoking storytelling that challenges perceptions and ignites imaginations.

At Lighthouse Festival, we are proud of our legacy in bringing high-quality, accessible, and enriching live performances to our audiences. Our stage has been a home for emerging and established talents, showcasing the diverse voices and stories that resonate with our community, plus providing some of the best laughter around!

The impact of live theatre extends beyond the stage; it plays a significant role in stimulating our local economy — from employment opportunities for artists and support staff to generating revenue for nearby businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and retailers. Theatre also strengthens our community’s social fabric, fostering a sense of belonging and shared experience that is crucial in today’s fast-paced, divisive world.

However, many in the theatre community are facing unprecedented challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic. The arts sector, among the hardest hit, is in a critical phase of rebuilding. Attendance numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Now, more than ever, the theatre community needs your support to sustain this vital cultural institution.

Lighthouse Festival, with professional theatres in Port Dover (Norfolk County) & Port Colborne (Niagara Region), and a community theatre, Simcoe Little Theatre, in Simcoe (Norfolk County), remains steadfast in our mission to bring laughter, entertainment, and thought-provoking art to our audiences. As we navigate these unprecedented times, we invite you to reconnect with the joy and communal spirit of live theatre. Whether you’re a long-time theatre lover or a curious newcomer, there’s something magical waiting for you in the theatre — shared laughter, a collective gasp, or the thunderous applause that follows a stirring performance.

In celebration of World Theatre Day, we encourage everyone to experience the magic of live theatre once again. Come and see a show at Lighthouse Festival. Let us together laugh, reflect, and be moved by the incredible talent within our community and beyond. Your presence not only supports the arts but also contributes to the revitalization of our collective cultural identity and economic resilience.

Join us in this crucial time to support and uplift the theatre community. Together, we can ensure that live theatre remains a vibrant and essential part of our community’s cultural landscape for generations to come.

For information on our upcoming shows and how you can support Lighthouse Festival, please visit our website at www.lighthousetheatre.com.

Let’s celebrate World Theatre Day by supporting live theatre. We’ve got a seat waiting for you!

#WorldTheatreDay #GoSeeAShow #RallyForTheatre


About Lighthouse Festival
Lighthouse Festival is a charitable organization devoted to the development and production of   new and existing Canadian plays. Lighthouse Festival strives to be artistically excellent, support and encourage local and regional artists, and be a source of enjoyment and pride in local communities while promoting local tourism. Operating in two towns on Lake Erie, our theatres operate on a central policy of hospitality, accessibility, and affordability for all.


Media Contact
For media inquiries, please contact:
Don Kearney-Bourque
Marketing & Communications Manager
Lighthouse Festival Theatre Corporation
don@lighthousetheatre.com
Direct:(226) 290-0070
Cell: (289) 541-7410

**END**

Women take SLT stage for comedy The Savannah Sipping Society

Women bring to life a charming and relatable play that’s Simcoe Little Theatre’s second production of the season.  

February 21, 2024

Simcoe Reformer

By Postmedia Staff

The Savannah Sipping Society, a comedy written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, and directed by Sarah Finch, opens on March 7. 

The cast includes Roselle Slaght as Randa Covington, a perfectionist and workaholic who is struggling to cope with a surprise career derailment; Anna Reu as Dot Hangler, who is reeling from her husband’s recent demise and the loss of their plans for an idyllic retirement; Nancy Gibb as the earthy and boisterous Marlafaye Mosley, a good ol’ Texas gal who has blasted into Savannah in the wake of losing her tom-cattin’ husband to a 23-year-old dental hygienist; and Melinda Campbell as Jinx Jenkins, a spunky ball of fire who offers her services as a much-needed life coach for these women. 

Actors Melinda Campbell (left), Anna Reu, Nancy Gibbs and Roselle Slaght are featured in The Savannah Sipping Society, Simcoe Little Theatre’s second production of the 2023-24 season. The comedy runs from March 7 to 17. Contributed.

Together, these middle-aged women successfully bond and find the confidence to jumpstart their new lives. 

Gibbs said being part of the production has been an “absolute joy.” 

“The camaraderie among the cast and crew is palpable and I believe the audiences will be drawn to the heartwarming story and unforgettable characters.” 

Stage manager Susan LaBone said “even from early rehearsals, the energy and enthusiasm surrounding The Savannah Sipping Society has been incredible.” 

Tickets for the production start at $24 and can be purchased online at simcoelittletheatre.org or by calling 519-583-0505. The play runs from March 7 to 17 at Simcoe Little Theatre, 33 Talbot St. North in Simcoe.  

Simcoe Little Theatre is a non-profit community theatre dedicated to providing quality theatrical productions and fostering a love for the performing arts for more than 60 years. 

Lighthouse Theatre to showcase musician’s printmaking

Broadsides and Penny Dreadfuls is a printmaking show of artist and musician Ian Bell’s works.

February 14, 2024

Simcoe Reformer

By Brian Thompson

Local folk musician and songwriter Ian Bell is about to showcase another side of his artistic talents.

Broadside Ballads and Penny Dreadfuls is a printmaking show with a musical theme incorporating songs Bell has written.

The artist employed antique wooden and metal type, wood engravings and linocuts, and a 118-year-old printing press to create artworks inspired by the broadsides and street literature of the early 1800s.

“These prints are in the style of the song sheets that were hawked on the streets by ballad sellers in the 19th century, crated with hand-set type and illustrated with (my) wood engravings and linocuts,” said Bell. “Some were printed on (my) 1906 Pearl printing press; others were done on a 70-year-old Nolan proof press.”

Additionally, some songs are presented in tiny, hand-stitched chapbooks known as Penny Dreadfuls.

Bell notes that most of the equipment and type was rescued from newspaper offices that changed printing technology in the 1970s, along with items found at yard sales and flea markets.

A selection of printing artifacts will be included in the exhibit of artworks.

Broadsides and Penny Dreadfuls opens with a reception at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18 at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, 247 Main Street in Port Dover.

The show will run throughout 2024 at the theatre.

BROADSIDE BALLADS & PENNY DREADFULS – Lighthouse Festival presents Ian Bell’s Printmaking Show & Opening Reception

Ian Bell’s Printmaking Show Opens at Port Dover’s Lighthouse Festival Theatre on February 18th

Port Dover, ON – February 10, 2024 – Using a 1906 printing press and a collection of antique wooden and metal type, local artist Ian Bell combines old technology with his own wood engravings and linocuts to create new artworks inspired by the broadsides and street literature of the early 1800s. These are now on exhibit at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover.

The show takes music as its main theme, and features illustrated “broadsides” of songs written by Ian. (Who is also well known as a folk musician and songwriter) These works are in the style of the song sheets that were hawked on the streets by ballad sellers in the 19th century – with hand-set lead type, and are illustrated with Ian’s wood engravings. Some were printed on Ian’s 1906 “Pearl” printing press; others were done on a 70 year-old Nolan proof press.

In addition to the broadsides, some songs are presented in tiny hand-stitched chapbooks (“Penny Dreadfuls”) – also printed with handset type and woodcut illustrations. The show also includes other musically themed linocuts and wood engravings.

Art Gives New Life to Old Technology

Much of the type and equipment used in the printing of Broadside Ballads & Penny Dreadfuls has come from the dark corners of local weekly newspaper offices who moved on from letterpress technology in the 1970s. The 1906 Pearl press and drawers of 19th century wooden type were rescued from the Cayuga printshop of the Haldimand Advocate (now the Haldimand Press) just days before the building was demolished in 2022. Other type, borders, and useful pieces of printing equipment were generously supplied by the Port Dover Maple Leaf. Still more has come from yard sales, barns, and flea markets across southwestern Ontario. A few examples will be on display along with the art.

The Printmaking Show opens with a reception on February 18th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Lighthouse Festival Theatre, located at 247 Main Street in Port Dover. It will remain at the theatre throughout the 2024 season.

For more information on Ian Bell’s artwork, please visit his website at www.ianbellart.com.

Media Contact

For media inquiries, cast interviews and further information, please contact:

Don Kearney-Bourque,
Marketing & Communications Manager
Simcoe Little Theatre & Lighthouse Festival
don@lighthousetheatre.com
Direct: (226) 290-0070
Cell: (289) 541-7410

For Immediate Release: Simcoe Little Theatre Presents “The Savannah Sipping Society” as the second production of their 2023/24 Season

TSSS

A local cast of 4 talented women bring this charming and relatable play to life

Port Dover, ON – February 9, 2024 – Simcoe Little Theatre is thrilled to announce its second show of the 2023/24 season, The Savannah Sipping Society, written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten. Directed by Sarah Finch, this delightful comedy promises laughter, friendship, and heartwarming moments for audiences of all ages.

The Savannah Sipping Society follows the journey of four Southern women who, despite their differences, form an unexpected bond and embark on a life-changing adventure filled with laughter, misadventures, and plenty of sweet tea. Set against the backdrop of the charming city of Savannah, Georgia, this production is sure to captivate theatregoers with its wit, charm, and relatable characters.

Director Sarah Finch expresses her excitement for the upcoming production, stating, “I am thrilled to bring The Savannah Sipping Society to life on the Simcoe Little Theatre stage. This play is a celebration of friendship, resilience, and the joy of embracing new adventures. Audiences are in for a treat!”

The show features a talented, local cast, including Melinda Campbell, Nancy Gibbs, Anna Reu, and Roselle Slaght, who bring their unique personalities to each character, creating a dynamic and engaging performance.

Nancy Gibbs, who portrays one of the lead characters, shares her thoughts on the production, saying, “Being a part of The Savannah Sipping Society has been an absolute joy. The camaraderie among the cast and crew is palpable, and I believe audiences will be drawn to the heartwarming story and unforgettable characters.”

Stage Manager Susan LaBone reflects on her experience working behind the scenes, stating, “As the stage manager for this production, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the dedication and talent of everyone involved. Even from early rehearsals, the energy and enthusiasm surrounding The Savannah Sipping Society have been incredible.”

Tickets for The Savannah Sipping Society start at $24 each and can be purchased online at simcoelittletheatre.org or by calling 519-583-0505. The play runs from March 7th to 17th at Simcoe Little Theatre, located at 33 Talbot Street North in Simcoe, ON.

Don’t miss your chance to experience this heartwarming comedy that celebrates the power of friendship and the beauty of embracing new beginnings. Get your tickets today and join us for an unforgettable theatrical experience!


About Simcoe Little Theatre

Simcoe Little Theatre is a non-profit community theater located in Simcoe, Ontario in beautiful Norfolk County. For over 60 years, Simcoe Little Theatre has been dedicated to providing quality theatrical productions and fostering a love for the performing arts in the local community. With a talented team of actors, directors, and volunteers, Simcoe Little Theatre continues to entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. For more information, visit www.simcoelittletheatre.org. Where Community Stars Shine!

Media Contact

For media inquiries, cast interviews and further information, please contact:

Don Kearney-Bourque,
Marketing & Communications Manager
Simcoe Little Theatre & Lighthouse Festival
don@lighthousetheatre.com
Direct: (226) 290-0070
Cell: (289) 541-7410