Tag: volunteers

“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.

Meet the Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! | Katie Edwards as The Princess

Meet Katie Edwards! She’s graced the Lighthouse stage as Grace in RUM RUNNERS and as Danny in ONE MOMENT but she’s very excited to be starring in Lighthouse Festival’s first Pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk. We chatted about what she does before going on stage, why she wanted to be involved in our pantomime and how she’s similar/different from her character.

Katie Edwards

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

Katie Edwards (KE): I’ve had the privilege of performing with Jonny Ellul two times throughout my career. I think he is one of the kindest and most creative artists I’ve ever worked with. So, when I heard that Jonny was directing a panto at the Lighthouse, all I could think was, “That show is going to be so much fun. I have to be a part of it!”

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

(KE): I recite any monologues I have in the show to make sure I haven’t forgotten any lines!

(LF): How is your character like you? Different?

(KE): I think the princess and I are quite similar, as we both like to fight for marginalized communities and we love the great outdoors. How are we different? Alas, I am not royalty, nor am I trained in hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, ju jitsu and karate.

(LF): If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?

(KE): Definitely Urinetown!

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

(KE): Anyone of any age who enjoys funny, musical entertainment.

Meet the Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! | Stephen Ingram as Simon

In addition to playing the part of Simon, Stephen Ingram is also the Musical Director for Jack and the Beanstalk – The Panto! We asked him about what people will be talking about after the show, how important music is in a pantomime, and what he enjoys about playing his character.

Stephen Ingram

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

Stephen Ingram (SI): My hope is that every member of the audience will take home a little spark of joy, a little spring in their step, a little warmth in their heart. To me, a panto is all about giving such a ridiculous amount of silly joy and heart that the audience can’t help but find it contagious.

(LF): As the musical director for the show, in addition to acting in it, how do you balance both of those roles? 

(SI): We’ll find out, won’t we! It certainly requires more preparation in the weeks before rehearsals start, prepping sheet music and figuring out part-singing assignments. Once we get intro the swing of things I always like to be able to focus on my acting role as much as possible, as that’s something that is difficult to do on your own — I can bring the songs home, just not the actors! 

(LF): What do you love about the character you’re playing?

(SI): Simon is the musical centre of the show, and is always looking for a way to drag music back into it. He also always just sort of seems like he’s living in his own little world, and as a bit of a space cadet myself, I can relate! 

(LF): If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

(SI): My life wouldn’t be a movie, it would be either a musical or some kind of interactive concert. Brent Carver and Stephen Sondheim would have to come back from the dead to make it happen – Brent to play me, Stephen to write the music!

(LF): How important is music in a pantomime? 

(SI): A pantomime is all about being more over the top, sillier, larger than life — and what’s more over the top than bursting into song? Music takes everything about a pantomime that is already heightened, and heightens it ten steps further.

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!

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.”   

Volunteer Sign Up Days are Coming Soon!

You’ll laugh… You’ll cry… You’ll show someone their seat!

Volunteers are vital to the Lighthouse experience, welcoming patrons at the doors, scanning tickets, handing out programs and ushering theatre goers to their seats. Volunteers are needed to support Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover and Port Colborne all year round.

If you’re been thinking of volunteering for Lighthouse, you’re in luck! We’re hosting a Volunteer Sign Up Day on Wednesday, April 5th from 10 AM to 1 PM in Port Colborne and April 12th from 10 AM to 1 PM in Port Dover. Spend your summer surrounded by laughter… in a good way!

If you are interested in volunteering at one of our locations, Port Dover – Lighthouse Theatre or Port Colborne – Roselawn Theatre, and you’re unable to make it to our Sign Up Days, please fill out the form linked below or contact our box offices.

Simcoe Little Theatre Presents Love Letters by A.R. Gurney

About Love Letters
About Love Letters at Simcoe Little Theatre

Second Production for the 2022/23 Season Now Rehearsing for Early March Performances in the 76th Season of Simcoe’s First-Rate Community Theatre

 On Stage March 2 –12, 2023 at Simcoe Little Theatre

Local cast & crew highlighted

Tickets are on sale now with a subscription upgrade available

 Simcoe, ON (Jan 30,2023) – A lifelong correspondence between childhood friends. Differing educational paths with highs and lows. A growing emotional distance exposes a deep history of giving and love. This is Love Letters by A.R. Gurney.

After a successful run with the heartwarming comedy Pumpernickel Junction, Simcoe Little Theatre is pivoting with an emotional journey in A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters. This acclaimed Broadway classic was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has received countless play and television adaptations since the show’s debut in 1988. The play tells the story of Andrew and Melissa, who are childhood friends whose lifelong correspondence begins with a birthday party thank-you note. They continue to exchange letters through their college years, where Andy goes on to excel at Yale, and Melissa flunks out of a series of “good schools.” As they slowly grow apart, it becomes clear how much they really meant and gave to one another.

Directed by Melissa Collver, Love Letters’ focus rests on the correspondence itself and the emotion it stirs within the characters and the audience. “In an age of instant messaging and social media, a lifetime of letter writing is a rare and powerful form of communication,” says Collver. “I am very pleased to be back at Simcoe Little Theatre directing this unique theatre experience.” 

Subscriptions and Ticket Pricing:

Tickets are on sale now at simcoelittletheatre.org or by contacting the box office at 519-583-0505. For patrons who saw Pumpernickel Junction, a limited-time offer to upgrade your single ticket to a season subscription makes your ticket to Love Letters and May’s production of Race Day only $19 each. Contact the Lighthouse Festival Box Office directly in person or by phone for further details. The following prices for single tickets include all taxes and charges with no hidden fees:

  • Single ticket: $22
  • Student ticket: $10
  • Opening night ticket: $25 (Opening night celebrations let patrons mingle with the cast and crew after the show while enjoying complimentary eats from local restaurants)

Where Community Stars Shine:

Since the 1940s, Simcoe Little Theatre has been a beacon of the arts in Norfolk County that provides a safe space for the community to develop their talents, passion and find a sense of belonging. All while producing quality amateur entertainment for the Norfolk County area. Simcoe Little Theatre operates by the motto: “Where community stars shine”. Now, following a partnership with Lighthouse Festival in the summer of 2021 that allows Lighthouse Festival to handle administration, facility upkeep, marketing, and publicity duties; Simcoe Little Theatre has the security to be viable for generations to come and embrace that motto. Local community artists and volunteers can continue to dream and inspire on the Simcoe Little Theatre stage and focus on what really matters, producing great community theatre!
Simcoe Little Theatre has maintained a proud tradition of community theatre run by the community for the community for over 75 years. Lighthouse Festival could not be prouder to support and empower all of the local artists who will continue to entertain the next generation of theatre lovers in Norfolk

Cast & crew are available for interviews:

Contact Don Kearney-Bourque, Marketing & Communications Officer, at 289-541-7410 or 519-583-1031 x 225 and via e-mail at don@lighthousetheatre.com.

Lighthouse Festival celebrates our Port Dover volunteers

Lighthouse Festival is a charitable organization supported by the most passionate, dependable, and all-around fantastic volunteer base. Volunteers are vital to the Lighthouse experience; they welcome patrons at the doors, scan tickets, hand out programs, usher patrons to their seats and handle many other behind the scenes activities.

On October 18th, 2022, Lighthouse hosted the “Volunteer Appreciation Night” for our Port Dover volunteers. Complete with a delicious spread from Schofields Bistro and the sweet sounds of Amber Banks and Nolan Gibson on guitar. Here we celebrated those so crucial to the Lighthouse Festival experience and handed out commemorative pins for select volunteers that celebrated milestone years of volunteering. Some have volunteered to be an essential part of your Lighthouse Festival experience for over 25 years!

Thank you to all our volunteers!

Volunteers Needed in Port Colborne!

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Volunteers Needed!

Want to have a fun social activity? Love live theatre performances?  Do you want to do something that is satisfying and a service to your community? Then become a Lighthouse Festival volunteer!

Volunteers are needed at our theatre in Port Colborne!

We have over 90 performances planned this year and need your help to greet, scan tickets and usher patrons to their seats while ensuring everyone has a great time.

Only 2 qualifications needed!

A welcoming personality and a Vulnerable Sector Police check.  You provide the personality and we will help you with the Police check!!

To volunteer in Port Colborne join us at the Roselawn Theatre on Fielden Ave on April 22 from 10am to 4pm.

Can’t join us?  Send us an email at portcolborne@lighthousetheatre.com

Let the shows begin!!