The River Rep, the professional Manhattan-based theatre company in summer residence at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT, will open its 2001 season with Georges Feydeau's sex farce, A Flea in Her Ear, June 19-30.
The 2001 season includes Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers (July 3-14), Valerie Wright starring in Damn Yankees (July 18-Aug. 4), William Inge's Bus Stop (Aug. 7-18) and Yasmina Reza's Art (Aug. 21-Sept. 2).
The Equity-affiliated River Rep, now in its 15th season in Ivoryton, is run by producing partners Warren Kelly, Jane Stanton, Joan Shepard and Evan Thompson. Thompson and Shepard's actor-director children, Owen Thompson and Jenn Thompson are active members of the company.
The non-profit playhouse, renovated in the past year, is a former recreation hall built for employees of the local (now-defunct pianoworks). The Ivoryton Playhouse was an active summer stock house 1930-1976 when New York stage manager Milton Stiefel offered stars in comedies, mysteries and dramas. Stiefel discovered the 1908 venue while vacationing and thought it would make a nice summer theatre.
The space was built by the piano company that ruled the town. It was a hall for films, meetings and theatricals. The city, formerly called Centerbrook, was renamed in 1888 in honor of ivory used for piano keyboards. After Stiefel's reign ended in 1976, the summer stock venture went through several managements before River Rep settled in 1987 and stuck there. River Rep has produced more than 65 shows, including one world premiere under a small professional theatre (SPT) Equity contract.
The subscribership is mostly residential, but there are tourists, too, Joan Shepard told Playbill On-Line.
A young Katharine Hepburn, from the area, performed there before she was well-known, and has visited the theatre is the last decade, said Stanton. Stars from Ethel Waters to Marlon Brando walked the boards there in the Stiefel era.
The Ivoryton Playhouse is at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton, 45 minutes from New Haven. Tickets are $22-$24. For information, call (860) 767-8348 or visit the website at www.riverrep.com.
— By Kenneth Jones