Tag: Main Season

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.

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.


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
Direct: (226) 290-0070
Cell: (289) 541-7410