Capitol Announces Replacement for Antonio

With Cobourg reviewing the Cultural scene with the development of a Cultural plan, one item of interest is what’s happening with the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope.  In October 2018, the Capitol Board announced that Executive Director Antonio Sarmiento would be leaving on December 31 and would be replaced by two Directors: an Artistic Director and a Managing Director.  Olga Cwiek, Board Chair of the Capitol Theatre has now announced that these will be Susan Ferley as Artistic Director and Mike Forrester as Managing Director.  As announced in October, they will focus on making the Capitol a non-profit community theatre – with apparently more emphasis on “community”. Both Susan and Mike have a wealth of talent and experience in theatre in Canada so we can expect the reputation of the Capitol as being a formidable entertainment venue to continue.

Here are their bios as provided by Olga Cwiek:

Susan Ferley
Susan Ferley

Susan Ferley

Susan brings a rich history as a director and artistic director. She has worked in theatres across Canada including Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre. Her work embraces a rich range of genres that includes comedy, drama, classics, musical theatre and theatre for young audiences. As an Artistic Director she has lead two professional theatres, The Globe Theatre, a unique theatre in the round in Regina Saskatchewan, and London Ontario’s Grand Theatre.

Ferley recently returned from London England where she spent an “invigorating” year of study at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama enriching her work as an actor trainer, coach and theatre artist.

She will begin work at the Capitol in mid February.

Ferley’s comments:

I am excited to begin this new adventure, and together with the Capitol’s board, staff and volunteers, building on the strengths of this beautiful and historically significant theatre. I love the beauty of Port Hope – an exquisite setting for this jewel of a theatre, and I am looking forward to becoming an active member of the community.

Mike Forrester
Mike Forrester

Mike Forrester

Forrester, the new Managing Director, will be relocating from Vancouver, following several years as the Executive Director of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, where he oversaw tremendous growth, incorporated a Foundation to support the organization, and prepared the company for its next ten years of operation. His background in arts management also includes nine years at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, most recently as Executive Vice President.

A one-time resident of Cobourg for several years, Mike worked in local radio. He and his family are delighted to be returning to Northumberland County and look forward to becoming enthusiastic and engaged members of the Port Hope community, and actively representing and growing the historic Capitol Theatre.

Mike will begin work at the Capitol on January 14th.

Forrester’s comments:

I am thrilled to join the staff, board and volunteers of the Capitol Theatre for the next chapter in the storied history of the venue.

Cwiek added:

The Theatre’s Board and I are very excited and confident that these two outstanding and talented individuals will allow the Capitol Theatre to continue its on-going journey of entertainment excellence. They were selected from a great number of worthy applicants – we are very impressed with their comprehensive theatre experience.


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5 years ago

Great news about the Capitol Theatre hires. It will be interesting to see how the new hands handle local tastes, conditioned, or served by, Antonio’s tenure.
In Cobourg, meanwhile, a larger audience should be catching Creative Force’s production of Red, now on at Firehall Theatre. Excellently acted and produced serious subject matter underrepresented in the local theatre roster.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Cam
5 years ago

Creative Force and Northumberland Players joined talents at the Firehall Theatre to produce an intellectually intense play (RED) about the pinnacle years of Mark Rothko, a leading visual artist working in New York City at the time.

The play presents all the personal angst of Rothko in his pursuit of purity of purpose.

The moment I stepped into the Firehall Theatre, I was impressed with a set that I had seen many times in many forms over my lifetime; an artist’s garret, the place where creativity dominates. I’ve seen these places across Canada and eastern Europe. The set is authentic.

The actors drop names left, right and centre. These names are the guide posts of a career; avoid him, emulate him, good, bad, maybe. It was a turbulent time in post-war America when it began to feel muscular and confident, drawing the creative minds of a devastated Europe, including Rothko, and mixing them head on with American born artists. The situation stimulated Rothko.

The young assistant challenged Rothko, especially Rothko’s depression and self-pity. He also challenged and provoked Rothko’s artistic sensibilities, drawing him out to explain his work and motives. The repartee between artist and assistant can be rapid fire at times, throwing metaphors and analogies back and forth at each other to illustrate their arguments.

If you like to have your mind mixed with the concepts of post-modern art, artist and public, this is an intense package of acting.

Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

Welcome to our area, Ms. Ferley.
We shall be enriched not just by your artistic talents, but also by your financial acumen.
“From 2001 to 2016, she was Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre, London, the longest-serving AD in the theatre’s 42-year history as a professional theatre. During her tenure, she eliminated the massive inherited million-dollar deficit on a $4-million budget, and directed some of the theatre’s most notable productions, while establishing several important initiatives.”
“She spearheaded the annual programming of The Grand Theatre High School Project (HSP)-–the only program of its kind in North America. She directed sixteen HSP productions of musicals, and mentored and inspired hundreds of students, many of whom went on to professional careers in theatre.” Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
Well done Capitol Board!