Management Team

Laurel Smith, Artistic Producer

Laurel is a theatre director, playwright, producer and performer with an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto’s Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama, an MBA in Arts and Media Administration from York University (Dean’s List), a degree in music and opera performance from Wilfrid Laurier University, and theatre training at the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Drama Studio in London, England.

Having led Burning Passions Theatre in Toronto since 1999, Laurel relocated the company to Perth, Ontario in 2010 to launch the Ottawa Valley’s only professional theatre company. Since then, Laurel has directed plays each summer for the company’s Classic Theatre Festival, as well as the rural youth project, Listen Up! that tours each spring throughout Lanark County. Laurel has also directed, as well as writing original scripts for, Perth through the Ages and The Lonely Ghosts Walk historic theatrical walking plays each summer in Perth. More recently, Laurel inaugurated the Classic Dinner Theatre, in partnership with Michael’s Table, and directed the inaugural production of Shaw’s Overruled.

Laurel has adjudicated for the ACT-CO Festival, the London One-Act Play Festival, the Mississauga Arts Awards, the EODL One-Act Play Festival, QUONTA Festival and the Meadowvale Music Theatre Awards.  She has taught at Brock University, and facilitated many theatre training workshops. In 2008, Laurel was selected to be part of the Shaw Festival Directors’ Project.


Matthew Behrens, Associate Producer

Matthew has worked at the Classic Theatre Festival since its inception, having worked on both production and publicity since the founding of Burning Passions Theatre in 1999. A long-time writer for print and radio, stage credits include What’s a Girl to Do, The December 6 Memorial, and Ontario, Yours Too (Burning Passions Theatre), Kafka’s The Trial (TASC), First Sight of First Night (First Night Toronto)

Matthew is in charge of marketing for the Festival, along with theatre management and audience relations. He also presents the highly popular Pre-Show Talks before each performance during the Classic Theatre Festival’s summer season.

In 2014 he published Unions Matter (Between the Lines) and contributes regularly to dozens of print and on-line publications. Matthew is also a community organizer with youth, refugees, prisoners, and torture survivors.


Wesley McKenzie, Production Manager

Wesley is a lighting, sound and video designer from Cobden, Ontario, who works out of Toronto. This is his fifth season as the production manager and lighting designer in Perth. Wesley’s known for lighting operas at the University of Toronto and Wilfred Laurier University, as well as creating projections and sound for indie theatre companies, such as the red light district, Paradigm Productions and Lester Trips. Wesley also teaches in the Dance Department at York University. wesleymckenzie.ca

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