Last Chance: Sun Sets on River Rep Season in Ivoryton, CT, Sept. 5

News   Last Chance: Sun Sets on River Rep Season in Ivoryton, CT, Sept. 5 The River Rep, the professional theatre company in summer residence at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT, winds up its season Sept. 5 with the final performance of the John Van Druten comedy, Bell, Book and Candle.

The River Rep, the professional theatre company in summer residence at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT, winds up its season Sept. 5 with the final performance of the John Van Druten comedy, Bell, Book and Candle.

The Equity troupe's season-closer stars Jenn Thompson (Lincoln Center's Ah, Wilderness!) and Matthew Conlon. Owen Thompson directs. The production opened Aug. 24.

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The Ivoryton Playhouse was an active 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 as a community center 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 Shephard, 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 in the last decade, said Stanton. Stars from Ethel Waters to Marlon Brando walked the boards there in the Stiefel era.

The 300-seat theatre is about 45 minutes from New Haven.

For season information, call (860) 767-8348.

-- By Kenneth Jones