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Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s season shut down because of pandemic

The Lighthouse Festival Theatre has announced the cancellation of its 2020 summer season because of the pandemic.

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Making the decision was a long time coming for the executives at the theatre.


“It started with not being able to do the March break shows,” said Derek Ritschel, artistic director. “We thought, ‘OK, well let’s shut it down for a week or two and let this all settle down.’ That was literally the thought process at the time.”

After realizing things were not settling down anytime soon, they decided they would need to put a hold on the first two shows.

Ritschel and executive director Nicole Campbell then went to the board to present the idea that they may have to cancel the season.

“We just didn’t feel comfortable putting half a million dollars into three shows that we weren’t even sure we would be able to show, let alone rehearse together.”

With the current limitation on gatherings over five people, the group would not even be able to rehearse for shows in the coming weeks.

If the gathering restrictions are lifted before the end of the summer, there are plans to bring in pre-existing shows to the theatre so there can be shows for the local theatre audience to take in.

There are plans for the season topper to go on in September.

“In keeping with this forward and positive thinking, it is our goal to present our Season Topper GLORY DAYS! this September,” says the 2020 Season Announcement on the Lighthouse webpage. “Traditionally the Season Topper marks the end of our summer productions. Now, we hope it will act as our musical kick off to the new era of Lighthouse.”

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If that show is able to go on as planned in September there will be the possibility of it having a three-week run as a fundraiser for the theatre.

Anyone that had tickets or a subscription for the 2020 season has the option to either transfer their tickets to the 2021 season, receive a full refund, or donate the value of the tickets directly to the theatre. Ticket holders will be contacted in the coming days and will be able to decide which of the options they would like to choose for their tickets.

“We feel we’ve made the best call, given the situation, so that we can ensure that Lighthouse is back as strong as can be next summer,” said Ritschel.

The 2021 season will include production of Sugar Road, Halfway There and Meet My Sister, which are all Canadian shows that were intended to be produced this season. The other two shows for the season will also be Canadian.

Ritschel is remaining positive about the future of entertainment.

“The world is not lacking entertainment, there’s Netflix, there’s Disney+, there’s Crave,” said Ritschel. “I think what people are really craving is the human connection, the gathering to watch a play with live actors, and to be around other people and laughing in unison.

“It really is magnifying to me how much of a privilege it is to be able to go out and enjoy live entertainment. It’s something we’re all craving right now, which makes me very hopeful for the future of live entertainment.”

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