By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA—For Caledonia resident Hailey Parker, working as Technical Director for the Lighthouse Festival Theatre offers the best of both worlds: she gets to follow her passion for working on high-quality, professional live productions, all while staying close to home.
“I love it. It’s been great to find a place close to where I grew up. I haven’t had to leave Haldimand Norfolk, which has been nice because I love the community here. I grew up in Haldimand, so didn’t really know the community here (in Norfolk), but it’s been pretty amazing,” said Parker, who has been at Lighthouse for nine years. “I started as a production assistant, then became head of sound, and now I’m the technical director.”
Lighthouse Festival encompasses three separate locations, the flagship theatre in Port Dover, Port Colborne’s Roselawn Theatre, and Simcoe’s community-run Simcoe Little Theatre. Parker oversees all three, which can prove challenging at times. While the Simcoe location runs independently and offers separate programming, the Port Dover and Port Colborne locations share the same shows throughout the summer season.
Running the same show in two different places comes with a series of technical challenges for Parker and her crew: “The spaces are fairly different in terms of equipment. We always tell our designers they should design for the Port Colborne space. If it fits there, it will fit in Port Dover.”
She said that despite the challenges, her team has landed on a routine that works for them: “Surprisingly, it’s gone fairly well in terms of remounting shows, because the actors have already done the shows for a few weeks at Port Dover. It’s a matter of some quick rehearsals over there to figure out spacing on the new stage.”
In addition to the challenges of hosting the same show at separate venues, Parker must stay on top of the fast-paced nature of the summer festival, where typically a new show will open on the Port Dover stage just days after the previous one moves on to Port Colborne.
“The show that is coming in starts their rehearsal process in Port Dover three weeks before they actually hit the stage. They rehearse here in town and our crew helps facilitate getting their props, sound, lights together based on what their needs are through the rehearsal process.”
While Halfway There, the new show from well-regarded Canadian playwright Norm Foster, was enjoying its final few sold-out performances on the Port Dover stage, Parker and her team were rounding third and coming home on their production demands for Lighthouse’s next show, Meet My Sister, which opened this week in Dover.
“Our crew immediately stepped in and started taking down that stage and putting up the new one. We work into the weekend, with the next show up and running previews by the following Wednesday. It’s a very quick turnover.”
During live shows, Parker said a small ‘show crew’ remains at the theatre, running lights and sound, while the rest of her crew, such as props, paint, costumes, and herself are busy working on the next.
While Halfway There has left the Dover stage, audiences still have a chance to see it in Port Colborne, where it is playing at the Roselawn Theatre through July 31. Be prepared to laugh, as the show has induced fits of laughter from sold-out crowds throughout its Dover run.
Looking ahead, Parker is most excited about Lighthouse’s big show-stopper of the season, The Real Sherlock Holmes, opening August 17 in Port Dover and September 3 in Port Colborne. The Haldimand Press is proud to be this show’s media sponsor.
“There are a lot of moving parts to that. I think it’s going to be our most elaborate show this year in terms of all the technical elements. Not just the set and props, but also the costumes, lighting, and sound, it’s going to be really cool,” said Parker.
When the summer season is over, Parker says, “There’s a bit of a sigh of relief when you get to the end of it, but at the same time we’re already looking forward to the next season. The higher-ups are already looking at what shows we’re doing next year, getting the set and lighting designers together…. I have to look forward to creating my tech team.”
Despite the challenges that come with the job, Parker wouldn’t have it any other way. To see the special touches she brings to Lighthouse’s excellent summer season, check out a show at either of their locations. Halfway There is on now at the Roselawn Theatre through July 31, while Meet My Sister runs at the Port Dover theatre through August 6. Visit lighthousetheatre.com for tickets.