The River Rep, the professional theatre company in summer residence at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT., will open its 1999 season with The Fantasticks June 22-July 3.
The Equity company's season, overseen by artistic director Jane Stanton and managing director Joan Shepard, continues with Agatha Christie's Spider's Web July 6-17, Little Shop of Horrors July 20-Aug. 7, On Golden Pond Aug. 10-21 and Bell, Book and Candle Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
Stanton directs Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the River Rep Youth Theatre's annual show, Aug. 2 & 6.
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 61 shows, including one world premiere under a small professional theatre (SPT) Equity contract.
Managing director Shepard, a New York-based actress who is a seasonal favorite in Ivoryton, told Playbill On-Line that the Ivoryton Playhouse is Connecticut's oldest summer stock theatre.
The subscribership is mostly residential, but there are tourists, too, she said.
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, and stars from Ethel Waters to Marlon Brandon walked the boards there in the Stiefel era.
The 300-seat theatre is about 45 minutes from New Haven.
Box office phone lines open May 24. Call (860) 767-8348.
-- By Kenneth Jones