Lamplighter Tour’s 10th anniversary delights with humour, wit and wine
Grimsby Lincoln News
The stories of two Lincoln interwoven in near misses for decades before finally coming to a happy ending. That is the premise of Vices, Vines and Vinifera, the title of this year’s Lincoln Rotary Lamplighter Tour, the 10th anniversary.
The story begins at the Culp Farm on Victoria Avenue where guests are first introduced to the Wright and Ziegler families.
Madeleine Ziegler, portrayed by Katherine Cooke, is nervously awaiting word of her daughter, Annabel’s latest bootlegging mission. It’s 1926 and American prohibition law brings new problems and opportunities to the wine makers in the Lincoln area. The Ziegler family is doing some risky business with a New York mobster.
AMANDA MOORE Daniel Wright, Geoffrey E. P. Durwood, buries his head as Annabel Ziegler, centre, played by Sarah Bradshaw, shares her tale of eluding police and Coast Guard personnel in her latest bootlegging mission. Also pictured is Katherine Cooke as Ziegler family matriarch Madeleine Ziegler.
Daniel Wright, played by Geoffrey E. P. Durwood, arrives at the homestead to offer a business proposition but ends up saving Annabel from a police interrogation. He poses as her boyfriend to become an alibi as to her whereabouts when a Coast Guard ship saw some suspicious behaviour and a 'man' about her size.
It’s not much of a guise for Daniel to pretend he has feelings for Annabel, he does. But the spark is not enough to ignite the kindling.
AMANDA MOORE A near romance between Daniel Wright and Annabel Ziegler, played by Geoffrey E. P. Durwood and Sarah Bradshaw, draws the two families together for decades. Here, Annabel defends her family’s bootlegging to Wright in Partner in Crime.
Sarah Bradshaw is entertaining in her portrayal of Annabel, easily transitioning from her men’s attire costume from her bootlegging experience into a fancy dress and pearls to trick Const. Peter Grant (Mike Cipryk) into believing their tale.
The tour’s next stop is Vineland Estates Winery, originally the homestead of the Moyer family, where the audience encounters a grown Daniel Wright. He is married now with two children. Annabel is but a forgotten memory until her daughter waltzes — or perhaps the calypsos, walks or strolls into the room (it’s 1959 after all and American Bandstand is all the rage with the younger generation) — into the room with Daniel’s son Jonathan.
AMANDA MOORE Jens Hansen, a regular actor in Lincoln Rotary’s annual Lamplighter Tour, is convincing in his portrayal of an adult Jonathan Wright who is set infarming ways.
Daniel is set in his ways, growing labrusca grapes to make bitter, foxy-tasting wines. It’s the cusp of a new era in Niagara, and the region is booming with economic prosperity and innovation. Farmers, like Trudy Ziegler’s uncle Johann, are experimenting with new grape varieties — the vinifera varieties which now grow plentiful in the vineyards of the Beamsville bench. A young Jonathan is intrigued by the ventures of his love interest’s family.
It’s a typical 1950s family dinner with dad complaining of Jonathan’s lack of help on the family farm. Luckily daughter Joyce is willing and ready to take on the work. He won’t hear of Jonathan’s suggestions to improve the family’s grape growing business.
The show stealers in this play are Rob Murre as German-accented Johann Ziegler and Susan Wright’s bridge group — consisting of Carolyn Hansen as Susan Wright, Margaret Daley as June, Lise Cushnie as Sharon and Joan Edwards and Peggy. The ladies gossip over a bottle of wine Susan bought at, can you imagine, the LCBO.
AMANDA MOORE The bridge ladies were the show stealers in Clinging to the Vine with their gossiping and thrill seeking. Pictured from left are Carolyn Hansen as Susan Wright, Joan Edwards and Lise Cushnie.
While Jonathan is smitten with Trudy in his teenage years, it's Anna that steals his heart. The next stop is the Rittermere house on Cherry Avenuue, built in the 1850s. Here we meet a grown Jonathan Wright, who ends the scene agreeing to sell the family farm after more 170 tonnes of grapes have no market.
The scene opens with Anna Wright, played by Julia Brown, canning pears and sharing the woes of being a farmer’s wife.
“A farmer’s wife’s work is never done,” she says. She shares her fears that her son, Eric, will hurt himself on the farming equipment — an allusion to a later conflict in the 20-minute play.
While Jonathan is receiving bad news from the winery — they can only buy a small percentage of his grapes — he receives a call that Eric has been injured on the farm. It’s 1975 and the “writing is on the wall” for grape growers in the region. Consumers taste for wine is becoming more sophisticated. Times are hard and many families are deciding to get out of the farming business. The scene ends with Jonathan and Anna toasting their glasses to a new life.
After the play we learn the Wright family pulled up their britches and pushed on.
AMANDA MOORE The Wright family endures hardships in Bitter Grapes, but they still have each other. Anna and Jonathan Wright arrive home with news that young Eric, who was injured by farming equipment, will live and keep his leg. The family shares an emotional moment. From left are Sylvia Prins and Greta Henderson, Sharon Fecik as Debra Wright, Drew Fecik as Jonathan Wright, Kenwyn Fecik as Irma Wright and Julia Brown as Anna Wright.
Now, in the final play of the 10th anniversary tour, guests are taken to the future. It’s 2020 and the wine industry is about to unveil the Winemaker Museum. This is where the near love stories between the Ziegler and Wright families have a happy ending. William Wright is about to embark on a cider business deal with Callie and Celeste Ziegler — they plan to use local peaches to craft Niagara cider, William’s idea. It’s hush-hush despite a lurking reporter from Niagara North This Week, who is covering the museum’s opening. The who’s who of the industry are in attendance — Donald Ziraldo, Len Pennachetti, Paul Bosc and the crowd is awaiting the arrival of the prime minister.
Wine writer and television host Christy MacEwan, played by Jeanette Heil, is also in attendance, providing the reporter with an earful of gossip about the transformation of the wine industry. As the crowd leaves the room for the unveiling, a nervous William Wright, Brian Rintjema, drops down on one knew. Oblivious, Celeste, Monique Stuives, continues to search for William’s missing glasses. Celeste is caught off guard but says yes. Ninety-four years after Daniel Wright professed his love to Annabel Ziegler, the two families finally join — in business and in family.
The tour lived up to it’s title at the museum — Tawse Winery, where guests enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine.
The tour, though using fictional characters, pays tribute to the families that built the wine industry in the Beamsville Bench and Niagara region. The hard-working men and women who stuck with it, who built a now thriving industry, which attracts thousands to the area each year.
AMANDA MOORE The Lamplighter Tour’s 10th anniversary Vices, Vines and Vinifera wraps around the fictional Wright and Ziegler families. In the final play, Making History, a romance that failed to ignite 94 years earlier finally catches fire when William Ziegler proposes to Celeste Wright.