River Rep's staging of Larry Shue's comedy, The Foreigner, July 25-Aug. 12, represents a transitional producing season for the company. River Rep is expected to be the resident summer company at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, CT, in 2008, when a full summer season of shows will be produced.
The opening night of The Foreigner July 26 will be a fundraiser for the not-for-profit company and will celebrate River Rep's return to the Connecticut River Valley, "reuniting them with their loyal fans," according to a Feb. 24 announcement. Katharine Houghton, one of River Rep's leading ladies and most ardent supporters, will serve as honorary chair of the event.
River Rep left the Ivoryton Playhouse after the 2005 season after contract negotiations with the venue's operators proved unsuccessful. Since then the troupe has been in negotiations and planning discussions with the new Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in nearby Old Saybrook. The Center was expected to open in 2007, but delays in completing the project prevented River Rep from producing there this year. River Rep producers continue to work closely with First Selectman Michael Pace and the town of Old Saybrook, in anticipation of 2008, when the new Hepburn Center is scheduled to open.
The Town of Chester, meanwhile, was seeking programming for its historic 170-seat Meeting House. Chester Selectman Martin Heft and First Selectman Thomas Marsh offered River Rep a temporary theatre home.
The Meeting House is long noted for staging productions, including performances by the Meeting House Players and the Historical Society-sponsored Robbie Collomore concert series. "While we wait for the new Arts Center to complete its renovation, we have a wonderful invitation to produce this summer at Chester Meeting House," Warren Kelley, River Rep's artistic director, wrote in a letter to subscribers. "This historic and charming theatre is the perfect, intimate space in which to reunite with our loyal audience. Logistics dictate that we can only do an extended run of a single production."
River Rep producing partners Joan Shepard, Evan Thompson and Owen Thompson will join Warren Kelley in the staging of The Foreigner, which will be directed by Jenn Thompson, also a producing partner. Todd Gearhart will also join the cast. Two other roles have yet to be announced.
Tickets for The Foreigner will go on sale to the public in mid April. For more information visit www.riverrep.com.
River Rep first staged The Foreigner in 1988, featuring Karen Ziemba, Warren Kelley, Evan Thompson and Owen Thompson. It has been one of the most-requested revival titles ever since. The planned run represents the first time that River Rep has ever repeated a title in 19 years.
River Rep was founded in 1987 when director Jane Stanton invited New Yorkers Joan Shepard and her husband Evan Thompson who had their own touring company, Fanfare Productions, to start a summer stock company in Ivoryton. The pair were joined by their son, Owen and daughter Jenn, and Warren Kelley. Stanton serves as artistic director emeritus. Kelley was appointed artistic director in 2003.