Stage Door News

Port Dover: The Lighthouse Festival announces its 2023 season

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Laughter is coming your way this summer in Port Dover and Port Colborne as Lighthouse Festival raises the curtain on comedy in 2023. Get ready for some of the finest and funniest live theatre in the country with a playbill that brings two world premieres to the stage along with some of Canada's best and brightest writers, directors and acting talent.

Our season starts off with Come Down From Up River, a tale by comedic bard Norm Foster, set at first in the wilds of New Brunswick, where a man who’s lived in the wilderness for most of his life suddenly finds himself at his estranged niece’s house that she shares with her wife. A fish-out-of-water tale becomes a reality for all three of them. It’s a sweet and emotional account of family reconciliation and working to understand each other better. Directed by renowned Canadian performance artist Shelia McCarthy, who recently starred in the 2023 Oscar®-winning film Women Talking and the Netflix® hit Umbrella Academy, and stars Lighthouse favourite Ralph Small, who brought Buying the Farm to life in our 2022 Season and Sexy Laundry in 2019, Come Down From Up River shows that with a little give and take, no obstacle is insurmountable.

Next up, we find ourselves at a small radio station in Lake Kashagakaganee where there are nearly zero listeners and an assortment of staff who are in over their heads. Throw in a new and determined station manager, along with a meddling former station manager’s son and voila! A recipe for comedic disaster. On The Air was written by first-time playwright, Toronto born and raised screenwriter and actor Ephraim Ellis. Most often recognized for his role as the troubled Rick Murray on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Ellis was introduced to Lighthouse by his wife Meghan Speakman, a stage manager in the summer seasons. Ellis worked with Lighthouse Artistic Director Derek Ritschel to sharpen the script before bringing it to the Lighthouse stage this summer. He most recently played the role of Tom in the 2016 Lighthouse production of Perfect Wedding, directed by Derek Ritschel. On The Air is directed by Lighthouse Festival’s Artistic Associate Jane Spence, and is a relatable story where hard work, new ideas and forging relationships is the key to turning things around.

Now we come to a familiar old tale; two men try and fail to buy a house in Toronto. Two men inherit a bed and breakfast in a quaint yet blinkered village. Two men attempt to run their new B&B and fit into said small village. Does hilarity ensue? You bet it does! Bed & Breakfast was penned by the talented Mark Crawford, who currently stars in the Mirvish production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and who wrote the hit production of The Gig, now on stage at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton. With a cast of 24 characters being played by 2 people, the talented Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski & Warren Macaulay, you’ll have to ask for your eggs over easy and your laughter on a plate at Bed & Breakfast.

Where You Are, wonderfully written by Kristen Da Silva, who wrote Lighthouse favourites Hurry Hard & Beyond The Sea, tells the tale of two sisters selling jam in their retirement years on Manitoulin Island who have their sights set on a local (and handsome) veterinarian for one of their daughters, however a secret they can no longer contain, along with new secrets from the daughter, complicate matters which will change their lives forever. We promise this is a comedy! Directed by Lighthouse Artistic Associate Jane Spence, who directed last summer’s hit comedy Halfway There by Norm Foster, and who has acted in a number of Lighthouse productions including When The Reaper Calls, The Melville Boys and Beyond The Sea, Where You Are will illicit tears of joy and heartache and leave you with urge to call family members just to hear their voice.

Our main season ends with another play from Canada’s king of comedic theatrical compositions, Norm Foster, making its world premiere on the Lighthouse stage. In A Pack of Thieves, two troubled, middle-class souls, Robert & Jeff, decide that their need for extra cash can be solved by stealing a racehorse and holding it for ransom, which is what MOST people think of immediately when the need for extra cash arises, right? After enlisting the aid of Padre, an experienced criminal, and a pair of dim-witted twins named Chip and Dale, everything goes exactly according to plan… Which, of course, it does not. Starring Lighthouse Artistic Director Derek Ritschel, along with Brad Austin, who brought the house down in last summer’s Halfway There, as well as Lighthouse favourites Jeff Wetsch, Brad Rudy and Allen Cooke, the world premiere of A Pack of Thieves is an outstanding way to close out the season.

You’ve got a lot to look forward to this summer at Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover & Port Colborne. A season of great Canadian laughter on the shores of Lake Erie surrounded by food, friends, and the knowledge that you’re supporting one of this country’s finest theatre festivals is coming your way.