Tag: lighthouse festival

Simcoe Little Theatre presents heartwarming musical White Christmas

A large cast of local talent will perform in Simcoe Little Theatre’s production of White Christmas.

November 14, 2023

Simcoe Reformer

By Staff Writer

White Christmas, Irving Berlin’s classic and heartwarming musical will take the stage at Simcoe Little Theatre later this month featuring a large cast of local actors.

The production tells the story of two Second World War buddies who become successful entertainers after the war, meet two singing sisters, and end up putting on a show at an inn in Vermont owned by their former commanding officer.

The cast of White Christmas at Simcoe Little Theatre

“White Christmas will always be one of my favourite musicals,” said director Janet Dickson. “I hope the audience will laugh, be impressed with the talented cast, sing along at the ending and feel inspired by the integrity of the characters in the show.”

Dickson noted that she is excited to feature members of the Lisa Naves adult tap dance class, led by choreographer Teagan Davenport, that will tap dance in two numbers during the show.

“Rehearsals are on track to be ready for a fabulous opening night November 23 that will begin 12 shows over three weekends. I’m impressed with the dedication of the cast; some attending four rehearsals a week,” Dickson observed. “The chemistry among our cast members is palpable, and their dedication to delivering a heartwarming and memorable performance is truly remarkable.”

Performances run on Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and weekends at 2 p.m. from Nov. 23 through to December 10, 2023.

Tickets are available by contacting the box office at 519-583-0505 or online at simcoelittletheatre.org.

Meet the Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! | Sal Figliomeni as Dame (Jack’s Mum)

For his first appearance on the Lighthouse stage, Sal Figliomeni is making it an appearance to remember. He’s playing the Dame (Jack’s Mum), something he’s very comfortable doing. We chatted with Sal about why he wanted to be in this production, what will surprise the audience and what he does when he’s not on the stage.

Sal Figliomeni

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Why did you want to be in this pantomime production?

Sal Figliomeni (SF): I Love Pantomime. I have been in many Panto Productions over many years playing all the types of parts. From “Buttons character”, to “Villian” to “Dame”. To be part of a new experience of Panto being brought to an audience for the first time is an amazing opportunity. I am honored to be part of that experience and am excited to share Panto.

(LF): How is this production bringing something new to this story? 

(SF): This production is bringing surprise to its audience. The fun of call-outs from the audience in Panto. The built in audience participation. The fun of a new twist to a story that the audience THINKS they know.

(LF): How is your character like you? How is it different?

(SF):  My character, the ”Dame/Jack’s Mom”, is hard working, harsh but fair, rough but loving, campy yet sweet. This is just like me. That is why I love to play the traditional Dame role. 

(LF): What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?

(SF): I am part of a family-run spring water company called “Filane’s Canadian Spring Water” and bottles at source up north in Schreiber, ON. I am the sales manager and delivery man for the Greater Toronto and surrounding areas. My Dame persona has also grown into a full on drag character called “Shirley Happening” and I have created a one-woman show for her called “LIFE…. It’s Shirley Happening!”

(LF): What sort of person is going to love this show? 

(SF): This show is going to be loved by all. It has laughter, and joy, and excitement. Heroes and villains, and adventure, OH MY!!!!

A Panto is “absurd and joyous”

Lighthouse Theatre’s Head Technician Kassidy Sharp & Artistic Director Derek Ritschel look at a maquette of the set for the upcoming panto Jack and the Beanstalk, opening November 29th in Port Dover.

Local topics, slapstick comedy, music, dance, audience sing-alongs – all with laughter and family fun

November 1, 2023

Port Dover Maple Leaf

By Jacob Fehr

From November 29 to December 9, Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover will put on Jack and the Beanstalk—The Panto. But what’s a panto? The Maple Leaf sat down with Derek Ritschel, Artistic Director for Lighthouse Theatre, to let him answer that question. 

“It’s not Shakespeare, I’ll tell you that,” Mr. Ritschel joked. He explained that a panto is a kind of theatrical entertainment popular in Great Britain. Pantos include references to current events and local topics, slapstick comedy, music, dance, and audience participation, and are usually based on fairy tales and nursery stories. They subvert and “destroy” stereotypes with humor, often involving male actors playing female roles and vice versa, he said.

Pantos are typically performed at the end of a year to celebrate its conclusion. Mr. Ritschel emphasized that they bring family members together for “intergenerational laughs” because they are designed to appeal to all ages and to provide families with a shared activity around the holidays. He said tickets for pantos in England usually sell out quickly because families buy their tickets together.

Mr. Ritschel thinks pantos are “absurd and joyous.” They’re intended to unite families by providing everyone with something fun to enjoy, he said. And as he put it, there’s “nothing more powerful” than bringing families together through laughter.
“[A panto is] such a feel-good event, and now we’ll have it in Norfolk,” he said. 

In his opinion, Jack and the Beanstalk is “terrific” material for Lighthouse Theatre’s first panto because it is funny and full of tropes to subvert. He thinks it will be a great introduction to the style for local audiences. “It’s a strong opener,” he said. 
Lighthouse Theatre is fully producing the show, which will be split across two 45-minute acts. It was written by Ken MacDougall and will be directed by Jonathan Ellul. Mr. Ritschel said Mr. MacDougall has written pantos for decades and wrote this panto’s script specifically for Norfolk County. The theatre’s team has helped shape it too.

Mr. Ritschel stated he first contacted Mr. MacDougall in January 2022, meaning the play has been in production for nearly two years. “We want this panto to be something that Norfolk is super proud of and rallies behind,” he said.
He praised the panto’s cast, who he said are all accomplished Canadian theatre actors. “These guys know panto—they know comedy,” he said. 

The show’s cast includes Lighthouse favourites Allan Cooke (A Pack of Thieves), Katie Edwards (Rum Runners), and Eliza-Jane Scott (Come Down From Up River). Actors Lori Nancy Kalamanski and Cyrus Lane will perform in Port Dover for the first time. “I was stunned when Cyrus Lane signed on to be in the first panto at Lighthouse,” Mr. Ritschel said. Mr. Lane’s prior roles include recurring appearances on CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries. As for Ms. Kalamanski, Mr. Ritschel said she is “one of the funniest comedians you could possibly want.”

The theatre’s office and carpentry staff are working together on the panto’s set. They collaborated to construct props and paint set pieces. He said that with a break between the end of Lighthouse Festival’s summer season and the panto’s debut, the whole staff wanted to collaborate “hands on.” “That’s the beauty of theatre—it’s the most team-oriented kind of process,” he said.

Mr. Ritschel has plans for more pantos to come, including Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but whether they happen depends on how their first panto does. “It’s now up to the audience to show up or we can’t do it again,” he said. “It’s an expensive gamble.”

Nevertheless, he predicts Jack and the Beanstalk—The Panto will be a hit, and tickets for future pantos at Lighthouse Theatre will be the hardest to get. He hopes to make holiday pantos an annual tradition for the theatre.
“Let’s all have some fun to close this 2024 out,” he said.

To learn more about or purchase tickets for the panto, visit www.lighthousetheatre.com/event/jack-and-the-beanstalk/. Tickets can also be bought at the box office in the Main Street lobby at Lighthouse Theatre.

Meet the Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! | Lori Nancy Kalamanski as The Fairy

Lori Nancy Kalamanski is making her Lighthouse debut in Jack and the Beanstalk but has an amazing theatre and television background, as well as a new sing along album to boot. We chatted with her about why she wanted to be in this show, what’s going to surprise people about it and what makes a good scene partner.

Lori Nancy Kalamanski

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Why did you want to be in this pantomime production?

Lori Nancy Kalamanski (LNK): One of my earliest theatre experiences as a child was seeing a pantomime. I am delighted to now be onstage sharing this fun tradition with the Lighthouse Festival community in their very first panto.

(LF): When you have a five-minute break during rehearsals, what do you spend your time doing? 

(LNK): A fairy never tells their secrets, but I assure you, it’s something good!

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(LNK):  This is quite a modern take on the ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ story. Keep your ears open for nods to local community & current events. And though you’re welcome to just sit back & watch, we’d actually love it if you made a lot of noise!! Cheer for the good folks and boo the baddies. Don’t worry if you don’t know panto rules yet. Come to the show and my character will guide you through it.  

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?

(LNK): Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine wrote a pretty fantastic musical called ‘Into The Woods’. It mashes together a whole bunch of fairy tales (including Jack & the Beanstalk) and cleverly explores what happens after you get your wish.

(LF): What do you think makes a good scene partner, especially in a pantomime? 

(LNK): An artist who is playful & smart, with the ability to improvise – not only with other castmates, but with the audience as well – is a dream. Pantomime has a long theatrical history of good standing up to evil. As the good fairy, I hope my evil scene partner is ready, because I promise to fight whatever they have in store for us & Jack!

Meet the Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! | Eliza-Jane Scott as Jack

Eliza-Jane Scott made her Lighthouse debut in this past season’s production of Norm Foster’s Come Down From Up River, but she’s no stranger to the stage! She starred as Captain Beverley Bass in Come From Away (Mirvish Productions/Junkyard Dog), Mamma Mia! (Charlottetown Festival), Maria in The Sound of Music (NAC), The Music Man (Stratford Festival), and The Producers: Canadian Company and 1st American National Tour (Mirvish) to name just a few productions. We asked Eliza-Jane why she wanted to be in our very first Panto, what will surprise people about this show, and what makes a good scene partner.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Why did you want to be in this pantomime production?

Eliza-Jane Scott (EJS): I grew up on SNL, Monty Python and Zucker Brothers and Mel Brooks films. I could literally quote you lines from History of the World Part II, Life of Brian or Airplane. I had the good fortune of meeting Mel Brooks when I was cast in the musical The Producers. What a dream come true! In some way or other, all of these films and sketch shows had elements based in British panto. I love farce, slapstick, physical comedy and music: panto is my unicorn! And to top it all off, it will mean a reunion with director Jonathan Ellul, who I went to school with and who is a comedy unicorn of his own.

(LF): What’s the last thing you do before stepping out on stage? 

(EJS): Usually the last thing I do before I step out on stage is to perform a little focussing ritual: life doesn’t stop when you step on stage so  it’s important to take time and ground yourself in the space, the story and with fellow actors and stage management. This allows you to sort of “ leave your baggage at the door” in order to allow the best mindset to serve the play and the audience. For me this might look like a little focussed deep breathing, shaking out the body or a little prayer or mantra. This also allows you to keep your heart and mind open for what might be coming in the show that night, because as you know, no two performances are alike.

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Ralph Small & Eliza-Jane Scott in Norm Foster's Come Down From Up River
Ralph Small & Eliza-Jane Scott in Norm Foster’s Come Down From Up River from Lighthouse Festival’s 2023 season.

(EJS):  I think the most surprising thing will be how much people will laugh. Panto’s are riotous fun. Not only that but the audience actually participates in the jokes and is encouraged to engage, which can be really enlivening and joyous.  

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?

(EJS): One of my all time favourite stage shows was a farce that was produced back in the 80’s called B Movie: The Play by Tom Wood. He wrote and performed in this incredible farce about a besotted movie star. It is one of the biggest hits in Canadian history and won a Chalmers Award as well as Five Dora Awards. The thing that made the show so magical was the comedy and Tom Wood’s portrayal of this manic and intense movie icon: he ripped up the stage in a way I have not seen any actor do since. It brought me such joy and delight. I have never forgotten it.

(LF): What do you think makes a good scene partner, especially in a pantomime? 

(EJS): The qualities of being a good listener and being generous make the best scene partners: you doubly feel safe and heard inside of the scene work. Sometimes in comedy it is easy to make scenes all about your own ability to connect with the audience to get laughs, but a true comic actor will use offers and take other cast members with her on that journey, so everyone is in on the joke.

An Army of Volunteers Help Keep LFT Running Smoothly

September 1, 2023

Port Dover Maple Leaf

By Donna McMillan

In 1996, Nancy Sherwin was new to Port Dover and wanted to get involved in the community and meet new people. She heard Lighthouse Festival Theatre was looking for volunteers and decided to offer her time. She is still volunteering and reaping the benefits of greeting people who come to the theatre. “Everyone is here to have an enjoyable time. It’s a nice vibe,” she told the Maple Leaf in an interview.

Stephanie Grant is the Patron Experience Supervisor at Lighthouse Festival Theatre and is responsible for the box office and bar areas at the theatre. She also is the Volunteer Coordinator for the 105 volunteers who work as greeters, ushers, 50/50 draw sellers, ice cream vendors, helpers with hors d’oeuvres opening night and more during the season playbill and special events held at LFT. “Our volunteers are dedicated and willing to go above and beyond due to their love of theatre or desire to be helping others,” Stephanie told the Maple Leaf. Volunteers range in age from being in their 20’s to their 80’s, she shared. Some have been with the theatre for more than 30 years, she added. “Some may work one performance per show while others might work ten per show,” she said. Volunteers sign up for when and how many shows they wish to cover.  

For a single performance, Stephanie shared four ushers work the main floor, two in the balcony, two sell 50/50 tickets, one sells ice cream and there are greeters at the front door. At times, they might also hand out tickets when large groups arrive. To assist new volunteers, there is a volunteer handbook outlining job descriptions, policies and procedures. As a thank you, volunteers can attend a performance if there are empty seats. Or, if they are scheduled for two shifts during a performance, they are provided two tickets to a preview performance, Stephanie said. LFT also holds a Volunteers Appreciation Night with all staff and board members attending to thank volunteers. “It is hard to show how thankful we are,” Stephanie said.   Just to show how dedicated volunteers are, Stephanie said during a power outage at the theatre, two volunteers who were in the audience came forward to help a wheelchair patron get out of the building. Volunteers help decorate for Christmas and some enjoy a bit of dancing before patrons arrive as the opening night music group are warming up.   

Nancy, who has worked most volunteer jobs over the years, spoke of all the positive changes  she has witnessed at the theatre from the new seat installation, the new front entrance and exterior look to the back section on the theatre level with the Long Bar. Nancy said it is great to work with a great team. “Everyone jumps in to help out and LFT is good to their volunteers.”   

Review: Norm Foster’s latest play premieres at Lighthouse

By Mike Renzella | The Haldimand Press

August 24, 2023

PORT DOVER—Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s 2023 summer season is ending the way it began, with a Norm Foster show on stage bringing the big laughs and memorable characters that could only come from the mind of one of Canada’s most well-loved and prolific playwrights.

PORT DOVER—Pictured on stage planning the heist are (l-r) Brad Rudy as Padre, Allan Cooke as Dale, Derek Ritschel as Rubber, Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef, and Brad Austin as Chip in a scene from Norm Forster’s world premiere of A Pack of Thieves at Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover. — Photo submitted by Lighthouse Festival

While the season began with an excellent rendition of Foster’s ‘Come Down From Up River’, directed by acclaimed Canadian actress Sheila McCarthy, it ends with the world premiere of Foster’s newest work, ‘A Pack of Thieves’, directed by accomplished writer, director, and actor Jamie Williams.

The show brings together a powerhouse five-man comedy team of Lighthouse favourites to pull off the ultimate heist. Starring as best friends and neighbours are Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef and Lighthouse Artistic Director Derek Ritschel as Rubber. 

The play sees the pair presented with an out-of-the-blue opportunity to score a million bucks each by ‘stealing’ a prize racehorse from a local businessman, who is in on the scheme, and cashing in on the insurance money together.

Chef, owner of a failing restaurant, and Rubber, a tire salesman, are two men struggling through their own personal crises, both financial and personal. Neither have any experience pulling a heist, but Rubber has a plan. 

He brings in three partners: a serial criminal with a serious distaste for potty mouth named Padre – played by Brad Rudy – and ‘the twins’ (not biological), a pair of hilariously dimwitted thugs with Brad Austin as Chip and Allan Cooke as Dale, who are brought in by Rubber in a bid to score favour with his girlfriend, who happens to be their cousin.

Foster describes the show as a “flat out comedy”, noting how he purposefully tried to challenge himself to write a show that didn’t rely on the heartfelt moments he is known for: “Feelings are good. But this one has none of that. Feelings be damned!”

Director Williams, who stages the action in a fast-paced, joke-a-minute pace that gives the audience just enough time to catch their breath before throwing another red-hot zinger at them, credits all five actors for making the show as memorable as it is: “I can’t think of five better gentlemen to tell this particular story.”

He’s not wrong. Each of the five performers bring a unique vibe that, when combined, makes for some great, belly-laugh-inducing moments throughout the show.

Wetsch and Ritschel are a great duo, with Wetsch wound tighter than a drum and Ritschel amiably clueless to the gravity of the situation they have placed themselves in. Rudy imbues Padre with a steely demeanour driven by a (deserved) lack of faith in his partners’ abilities, while Austin and Cooke steal the show, leaning right into the absolutely ridiculous characters they’ve been served and bringing big laughs with them.

After a summer full of shows with big themes about aging, acceptance, and illness, all delivered with a healthy dose of laughter notwithstanding, it’s great to kick back and enjoy a show with no greater ambition than to make you laugh solidly for two hours. ‘A Pack of Thieves’ accomplishes this goal with ease and brings Lighthouse’s perfect 2023 summer festival to an end in style.

Tickets and showtimes are available at lighthousetheatre.com. The play will be at Port Dover’s Lighthouse Theatre until September 2, before moving on to Port Colborne’s Roselawn Theatre from September 6 to 17.

That’s not all from the fine folks at Lighthouse though, as they will bring their season-topping music revue show ‘Leisa Way’s Opry Gold’, featuring the Wayward Wind Band and running from September 5 to 16 in Dover and from September 20 to 24 in Port Colborne. 

Plus, new for this season, their holiday pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ promises “uproarious comedy, fantastical costumes, and musical numbers that will knock your socks off” when it hits the Lighthouse stage this holiday season.

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.

Meet the Director of A Pack of Thieves | Jamie Williams

Jamie Williams is happy to be back at Lighthouse Festival for his first time as a director at the theatre. He’s starred on the Lighthouse stage in Skin Flick (Byron Hobbs); Melville Boys (Lee); and Baskerville (Dr. Watson). He’s directed at a number of theatres, including productions at the Foster Festival & the Upper Canada Playhouse. Jamie has recently been brought on board with the the team at The Foster Festival as their Artistic Associate, and is also thrilled to be starring with his wife Melanie Janzen (who is currently starring as Suzanne in Where You Are in Port Colborne) in the upcoming production of The View from Here, which he wrote, at Theatre Orangeville this coming fall, Oct 11th-29th. We chatted with him about what it’s like to direct a play that has never been produced before and what a daily routine of a theatre director looks like.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): When did you become interested in working as a director, and what influenced your decision to pursue this career?

Jamie Williams (JW): After some time in the business as an actor, which I have been primarily for the majority of my career, you certainly begin to develop thoughts on how you might do things. Especially when you have done a number of different productions of the same play which I have several times. But honestly the first time I seriously considered directing was when I had written my first play “It’s Your Funeral”. The opportunity came up and I thought “I’ve been living with these characters for a couple of years now, I’ve worked and reworked the logic, been envisioning the action of the piece since I set fingers to keyboard, so if there was ever a play I’d direct…” And I took the opportunity. It was a great experience, exciting in a whole new way from acting and writing, and I fell in love with the process. Since then I’ve had the great privilege of directing a number of Norm Foster’s shows and hope to continue doing so.

(LF): Describe your daily routine as a theatre director?

(JW): I don’t know that I have a routine per se, and maybe as I gain more experience one will certainly develop, but outside of the hours in rehearsal I like to arrive early and look forward over what we’re working on and write my thoughts, notes and general goals for the day down. Spending time in the rehearsal space when its quiet definitely opens me to new ideas dropping in, working through challenges that are yet unresolved. The most effective tool I have, and whether it is set in a routine or not, is writing out and through my thoughts and ideas alongside revisiting the script. All the answers are ultimately in the script after all. And at the end of the day I tend to review and again write down the next steps we need to consider the next day. Honestly, regardless of my routine or homework, the real work accomplished, and strides made, are in the rehearsal hall with the actors. It’s a collaborative art form and a director’s process can only be facilitated with the actors and vice versa.

(LF): What are the challenges of directing a play that has never been produced before?

(JW): No frame of reference. If a show has been produced and you’ve seen it before, or been in it, you have a starting point based on what you thought worked or didn’t work in that prior production. A new piece is a blank canvas which is exciting but daunting. However, the script, a good script, functions as a blueprint, everything you need is within it. Sometimes some real scrutiny is required but if you consider every word, punctuation mark, phrase and what is actually being said and the context it’s being said within, as a director you have everything you need.

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favorite stage show?

(JW): I couldn’t possibly say. Julius Caesar the first Shakespeare I read and saw at Stratford? The Melville Boys, the first Norm Foster play I read and was later privileged to perform here at Lighthouse? Or Norm’s The Writer, arguably his most beautiful and heart wrenching script, in which I originated ‘Blake Wellner’? Long Day’s Journey Into Night which I saw performed several times by my idols Tom McCamus and Peter Donaldson alongside the greats William Hutt, Martha Henry and Martha Burns? Or Arcadia by Tom Stoppard in which I played Bernard Nightingale out at The Citadel in Edmonton? Or Hadestown? Or In and Of Itself? Or Possible Worlds…? I think you get the point.

(LF): What will the audience be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?

(JW): I hope they’re still laughing all the way home! A Pack of Thieves is a full out comedy and I think we’re hitting all the right notes that’ll elicit a lot of laughs. But it’s not silly and it’s not a farce and there are moments where Norm has deftly allowed the characters to reveal themselves as truly human with desires, needs, and flaws. They are a disparate group of unlikely partners each with their own quirks and yet they grow through this piece and reflect thoughts and feelings about friendship, love and brotherly affection that we can all relate to and identify as the stuff that really matters in good times and more importantly desperate times. Maybe some of the audience will talk about that. Good theatre is a good story with characters that matter, that we grow to care about, and this story, I think, is just that.

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Jeffrey Wetsch as Chef

Jeffrey Wetsch’s turn in last year’s Sugar Road was amazingly well-received and we’re thrilled that he’s back as Chef in our World Premiere of A Pack of Thieves! He’s also graced the Lighthouse stage in Beyond The SeaThe Ghost Island Light, and Melville Boys. You’ve also seend him on the small screen in Rabbit Hole, MayDayWayneHolly HoodieTakenPrivate EyesBomb GirlsAlias GraceMohawk GirlsSaving HopePirates PassageMurdoch MysteriesRepublic of Doyle (CBC), Reign, and Rookie Blue (ABC). Let’s find out what will surprise people about this show, what he loves about his character and which celebrity would play it well.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

Jeffrey Wetsch (JW): The surprise in this show…is that it’s pure comedy.  No holds barred! A show with one purpose…make everyone laugh!

(LF): What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role? 

(JW): The biggest challenge im finding Playing Chef,  is being the straight man.  It’s not common casting for me. To trust the words to serve up the rest of the characters is a lot of fun but also a lot of responsibility. 

(LF): Besides yourself, which celebrity would you like to see tackle this role?

(JW):  I would love to see Bradly Cooper or maybe even Chevy Chase in his day!  

(LF): What do you love about this character?

(JW): I love Chefs heart.  His desire to succeed and care for everyone around him.  A real carer of others.

(LF): If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be? 

(JW): What other player would i want to play??  That’s a tough one as every cast member is working so successfully at creating these brand new characters for Norm and the audience.   I only see the men who are cast now!  Lol

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Derek Ritschel as Rubber

Lighthouse Festival’s Artistic Director, Derek Ritschel, is back on stage! After directing the hit musical community show, Clue, he’s taking on the role of Rubber in the world premiere of Norm Foster’s A Pack of Thieves. Derek has been in a number of Lighthouse productions, including Heatwave, The Drawer Boy, Mary’s Wedding, Bedtime Stories, Mending Fences, A Christmas Carol, Stranger In Our House, Between Friends, Outlaw, and The Foursome. We sat down with him to chat about who is most and least like their character on stage, what he does just before going on stage and what will surprise people about this comedic tour de force!

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What will people be talking about in the car on the way home after seeing this show?

Derek Ritschel (DR): I hope they are talking about how much they laughed and enjoyed their evening with us. A Pack Of Thieves is unapologetically a comedy so it’s our hope people just relax and enjoy a good laugh. 

(LF): Who is most like their character in this play? Who is the least like their character?

(DR): I would have to say Jeff is closest to his character, he’s a thinker, a planner  … as is his character, Chef. And I would say Allan is the least like his character. The character Dale isn’t the smartest wolf in our pack but in real life … Allan is a very clever artist.

(LF): What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?  

(DR): One deep breath and a sly wink to my acting partner. It’s time to dance. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(DR): Nothing. It’s written by Norm Foster. Laughter is about to happen, and everyone knows it. Let the games begin.

(LF): Besides this one, what’s your favorite stage show?

(DR): Tough question for an Artistic Director to answer. I’ve been involved in over 80 shows here. Each and every one has a place in my heart. So, I’ll answer by saying this … I love all my children equally. Long live Lighthouse.  

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Brad Rudy as Padre

Brad Rudy has been on the Lighthouse stage a number of times, including last year in Kristen Da Silva’s Sugar Road. He’s also played Fran in Educating Rita and a dual role of identical twins in Something Fishy. He’s also spent 26 seasons at Stratford Festival and acted as Ted Narracott in Mirvish’s production of Warhorse at the Princess of Wales Theatre. We were able to sit down with Brad and chat about his favourite line of dialogue in A Pack of Thieves, why he wanted to be involved in this production and who else in this play is going to blow people away with their performance.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line of dialogue in the show?

Brad Rudy (BR): “I’m a river of many moods.” Padre is describing himself to the other crooks.

(LF): Why did you want to be involved in this production?

Brad Rudy

(BR): I wanted to be in this production because a) I’ve only been in one other Norm Foster play in my whole career, and he has become rather ubiquitous, b) I last worked with director Jamie Williams over 25 years ago when we were both actors at the Stratford Festival and I was excited to work with him as a director, c) I’ve never worked with Derek as an actor; he’s only ever directed me, so I couldn’t wait to share his energy onstage, d) I love playing a ‘heavy’ character, e) I welcome any opportunity to work at Lighthouse, and f) Jamie offered me a great role and I was available.

(LF): Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away? 

(BR): That’s the toughest question of all. Without intending to sound diplomatic, there is something about what each guy is doing that will probably blow people away. But Alan is the only actor I had never met before and he is VERY funny; he certainly makes it difficult for me to keep a straight face. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(BR): Hopefully all the plot twists and character revelations will surprise people. In a comedy like this, you don’t want the audience to be ahead of you or the jokes just won’t work.

(LF): When did you first perform? 

(BR): I first performed for Lighthouse Theatre about 5 or 6 years ago in a play called Something Fishy, playing identical twins. Those were some quick costume changes! If you are asking about when I became a professional actor, it was in 1980 in a production called Alberta Song, while I was still in university.

Meet the Cast of A Pack of Thieves | Allan Cooke as Dale

Allan Cooke is taking on the hilarious role of Dale in Norm Foster’s A Pack of Thieves this week but he’s well-known on the Lighthouse stage. He’s had various Roles in THE REAL SHERLOCK HOLMES, taken on the role of Oscar Gervaise in STAGE FRIGHT, and had various Roles in THE FULL MOUNTIE. Elsewhere, he’s been involved with a number of productions at Upper Canada Playhouse and took on the role of Reggie in CBS’s CLARICE. He’s very happy to be back in Port Dover and we caught up with him to chat about who will love this show, why he wanted to be involved with it and who’d he play if he had the chance to take on a different role in A Pack of Thieves.

Lighthouse Festival (LF): What sort of person is going to love this show?

Allan Cooke (AC): Horse thieves! (and, perhaps, some horses) … and all lovers of Norm Fosters wit-with-heart brand of comedy. This one is classic Foster.

(LF): Why did you want to be involved in this production?

Allan Cooke

(AC): So many reasons. Chiefly among them, working with the crew at the Lighthouse is always a positive experience. Working with Derek and Jamie again too, albeit in different capacities from how we’d worked in the past, I knew we’d really dig into this script in the best, most fun, way possible. And Moose Tracks ice-cream on the beach is nice too. 

(LF): What are people going to be talking about in the car on the way home from this show? 

(AC): Probably (hopefully!) how well cast it was. Jeff, Brad, Brad and Derek; I can’t imagine any other people playing these roles now, they inhabit them perfectly. 

(LF): What’s going to surprise people about this show?

(AC): There’s a few cool twists and turns in the script. But I hate spoilers, so I’ll shut up now. I ain’t no rat.

(LF): If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be? 

(AC): Again, I can’t see anyone else except our cast playing these characters, so I’ll re-cast myself as the looming off-stage presence of Langford Pangborn. Or the Maitre D at Santinos. Or the horse (Front-end).