One Act Festival returns to Lighthouse Festival Theatre

Melody Johnson will be performing Person of Interest at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre on March 21 as part of the One Act Festival. This is the final of three shows. Submitted

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The Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s One Act Festival is set to take the stage later this month.

Derek Ritschel, artistic director at Lighthouse, created the festival five years ago and has hand selected the shows for this year’s event.

This year’s festival will see Kirk Dunn’s The Knitting Pilgrim, Jake Epstein’s Boy Falls from the Sky, and Melody Johnson’s Person of Interest.

Ritschel is eager for the local audience to see Epstein on stage where he will tell tales of his time on Broadway and beyond. Epstein is well known for his part in Degrassi: The Next Generation, in addition to his title role in the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. He will discuss what it is like to be part of the Broadway scene, and losing his Spider-Man role due to injury.

Dunn will tell the story of taking on a 15-year knitting project and finding religion at the same time. He brings with him three 10-foot tall knitted tapestries, compared to a church’s stain glass windows, to discuss his project while he explored religions.

Johnson will share her story of moving to the city and having unimaginably bad neighbours. Johnson was in the original One Act Festival five years ago with her show Miss Caledonia. She is one of the most requested one-act performers by local audiences to return to this festival.

“I get requests for her every season,” said Ritschel. “She’s coming back for the fifth anniversary with a new show.”

Ten years ago when Ritschel took the position of artistic director the theatre was essentially closed throughout the winter. He decided to do something to complement what is seen on the stage throughout the summer season.

“I wanted to do something that was a totally different genre of theatre, and that was the one-act plays,” Ritschel said. “In the summer it’s a rehearsed play. The one acts have scripts, but they also have a lot of adapting to the audience.”

Ritschel said when he was beginning the festival he found three one-act plays and hoped for an audience of 200, which he received. Since that first year the audience and festival has grown substantially to around 700 audience members being able to take in the shows, with two viewings of each.

“The Norfolk community has stepped up big time,” said Ritschel. “I’m just grateful that Norfolk gets the arts, and gets how important it is to a community. They appreciate what we’re trying to do… They’re recognizing how amazing it is and supporting it.”

The festival begins on Jan. 25. Tickets are available on the lighthousetheatre.com website or by phoning the box office at 1-888-779-7703.

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