Meet Our 2019 Acting Company!

Posted Feb 15th, 2019 in Press Release, Blog

Meet Our 2019 Acting Company!

#FosterFestival #CanadianTheatre #NormFoster #FF2019

Foster Festival's Fourth Season Brings Niagara Stage Stars together with Exciting New Talent
Casts announced for the Norm Foster Theatre Festival's three 2019 Productions

(St. Catharines, ON – February 15, 2019) – The Norm Foster Theatre Festival (“Foster Festival”) is pleased to announce the official casts for the upcoming 2019 season, which include a talented roster of well-known Shaw actors and delightful newcomers in the Festival’s largest company to date. The Valentine’s Day announcement celebrates playwright Norm Foster’s February 14th birthday with a sweetheart of a ticket deal for audiences.

Summer 2019 will open with THE WRITER - Norm Foster’s 60th World Premiere starring Shaw Veteran Guy Bannerman as Donald Wellner, the eponymous Writer of the title. Artistic Director Patricia Vanstone directs. Norm Foster says “The role of Donald Wellner is a perfect fit for Guy Bannerman. How lucky we are to have him join the Foster Festival company.

The second show of the season - HILDA’S YARD features the highly anticipated return of Norm Foster and Patricia Vanstone as Hilda and Sam Fluck, Darren Keay who starred in 2016’s Halfway There and Screwball Comedy in 2017 and Stratford veteran Daniel Briere from 2018’s Wrong For Each Other. Rounding out the cast of six are Foster specialist Erin MacKinnon and rising star Amaka Umeh, who was named one of NOW Magazine’s 12 Stage Artists to Watch In 2019. Shaw star Jim Mezon will return to the Foster Festival to direct this Greatest Hit.

The third and final production of the season is the Foster Festival’s first World Premiere musical. BESIDE MYSELF features Shaw/Stratford veteran Gabrielle Jones and Mirvish star Jonathan Whittaker side by side with talented newcomers Griffin Hewitt and Niagara’s own Breton LalamaVanstone once again directs this sparkling world premiere alongside Composer Steve Thomas as Music Director. BESIDE MYSELF will tour to Theatre Collingwood following its St. Catharines run.

Peter Hartwell will once again design all three shows and Chris Malkowski will work his magic as the Resident Lighting Designer.

“Our audiences have come to expect the absolute best acting and production values here at the Foster Festival. This stellar company of actors breathes the humour and heart of Norm Foster’s iconic writing.” Vanstone says. “I’m particularly excited to welcome Amaka Umeh, Griffin Hewitt and Breton Lalama. These talented young performers are tomorrow’s stars and you’ll see them here first.” Foster adds “In fact, this entire company of actors is like a giant birthday present done up with a heart-shaped bow.”

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at

THE WRITER:  World Premiere by Norm Foster - June 19 until July 5

The first of two world premieres in our 2019 season, The Writer tells the story of a renowned writer and his son, who has followed in his father’s footsteps, perhaps less successfully. As they sit together and examine their relationship, secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened.  Full of compassion and Foster’s trademark Humour with Heart, The Writer explores the parent child connection with touching clarity as the paternal care-giver becomes the cared for.

HILDA’S YARD: Greatest Hit by Norm Foster - July 10 until July 26

Hilda and Sam Fluck are finally on their own after their grown children Gary and Janey leave the nest. They’re looking forward to rekindling their romance in their “Golden Years” but their love nest suddenly becomes a bit crowded with the unexpected return of the children and some very exotic visitors.  Set in 1956, this delightful comedy sparkles with unexpected twists and turns as Hilda attempts to corral her family’s foibles. Hilda’s Yard reunites Norm Foster and Artistic Director Patricia Vanstone as Sam and Hilda Fluck. Holy toot! You’re going to love it!

BESIDE MYSELF: World Premiere Musical by Norm Foster and Steve Thomas - July 31 until August 17

What would you do if you could hit the re-set button on a stale marriage?  Paula and Sam have finally decided to pack it in as a couple. As they divvy up the their household goods they wonder what would have happened if they’d never met. Would their dreams and young ambitions have come true? The discovery of a long-forgotten wedding gift sets off a chain of events that transports them back to their college days and the opportunity to rewrite their history together. Reuniting Norm Foster and composer Steve Thomas - co-creators of audience favourites Jasper Station, Race Day.

Audience Testimonials

“We drive considerable distance facing terrible traffic jams along the QEW, but it is ever so worth it considering the talent on stage, and the sheer enjoyment of Foster's wit. The venue is perfect - especially with the addition of the Fore and Aft Lounge where one can relax before the show.” – yankeefan730, Burlington, ON (TripAdvisor)

“We went to see a new Norm Foster play called Renovations for Six at FirstOntario PAC. Norm Foster is always good, but, this time he outdid himself with a very funny play that most of us can identify with. The acting was magnificent…everyone was perfect in their parts. The theatre itself is modern and easy to navigate, with a very friendly volunteer staff, who go out of their way to make this event so pleasurable.” – Steve B, Sun City Centre, Florida (TripAdvisor)

 “Back from the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre where the friendly box office staff fixed me up with our season’s tickets to the Foster Festival. Can’t wait to see what Norm Foster has up his creative sleeve this year!” – Mike S., St. Catharines, ON (Social Media)

What the critics say

"With plays and productions this good I’ll be making a trip to this festival next year for sure. It’s quite wonderful to see the whole community getting behind this endeavor. And why not. It’s terrific theatre; the casts and creative folks involved are top notch and the festival is dedicated to one of our most successful playwrights. We all win." 
- Lynn Slotkin, Review, The Slotkin Letter 


About The Foster Festival

Established in October 2015, the Foster Festival is the only Canadian theatre festival to celebrate the work of a living playwright, Norm Foster. Foster is the most produced playwright in Canadian history, with his nearly 60 plays receiving an average of 150 productions each year across Canada and internationally. The Festival has attracted some of the best artists in Canada including film and television stars Peter Keleghan, Leah Pinsent Sheila McCarthy, Janet-Laine Green and Booth Savage. The Festival proudly partners with the City of St. Catharines, The Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre of Niagara, The Niagara Chapter of Native Women, The Niagara Children’s Centre and Rodman Hall to provide theatre arts to the Niagara region. Our Local Heroes Initiative provides free tickets to clients of Bethlehem Housing and Support Services and their community partners. Visit to learn more. 

Media Contact
Emily Oriold
Executive Director
The Foster Festival
289-786-0950 x.1

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