LIGHTHOUSE THEATRE A BEACON OF LAUGHS
For Derek Ritschel, summer in Port Dover means three things: a juicy foot-long hotdog, a walk along the beach, and comedy.
Ritschel, the artistic director of the Lighthouse Theatre, knows that people come to the iconic beach town to relax and to have a good time — and he’s happy to deliver with a gamut of side-splitting plays.
“We really make sure that when people come to Lighthouse, they’re going to have a good time,” he said. “It’s a summer town. Our collars are open, and our convertible tops are down — if we’re lucky enough to have one.”
This year’s Lighthouse shows include “The Numbers Game,” a romantic comedy; “Baskerville,” a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes tale; “Ladies Foursome,” an ensemble comedy that takes place during a round of golf; and “The Full Mounty,” an off-the-wall farce that pits a disgraced Mountie against evil American henchmen attempting to steal Canada’s water supply.
But the Lighthouse’s focus on comedy doesn’t mean the plays lack depth. Indeed, several of the plays on this year’s bill flirt with darker subject matter. In “Ladies Foursome” — originally written for a cast of four men — the characters play tribute to an old friend who has just passed away. “Baskerville” offers the spooky ambience of a good mystery.
“There’s all these heavy themes, but they’re all sprinkled with comedy,” said Ritschel.
Behind the scenes, the festival is also celebrating an addition this year: a new rehearsal hall. For the first time, this $175,000 project gives the Lighthouse actors a chance to
flex their dramatic muscles in a dedicated space.
“We’ve never had a rehearsal hall to ourselves,” said Ritschel. “We’ve rehearsed in barns, storefronts, legions, churches, gymnasiums. One time we rehearsed in the fairgrounds.”
The Festival is also embarking on another ambitious project: installing new theatre seats. Called the “Get Cheeky” campaign, the move is based on a survey that showed the No. 1 request of patrons was more comfortable seating.
The theatre hopes to raise $100,000 by September to fund the project, though Ritschel says the cushy new seating will be installed in time for next season, even if the fundraising campaign falls short.
“The seats will go in first two weeks of January, no matter what.”
Derek Ritschel: Plays have heavy themes sprinkled with comedy