The company, operating under an Equity LOA contract, is situated in Horse Cave, KY, midway between Louisville and Nashville. Officially, the troupe is now known as Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave, and takes its "repertory" name seriously: Shows are presented in rotating rep, a rarity in American theatres.
The company's main rep season runs June-October, with scattered non-rep "special presentations" staged at scattered times the rest of the year. Robert Brock is artistic director and Julie Howell is managing director.
"Horse Cave Theatre has grown in stature and appearance way beyond its beginnings and the organization feels that it must embrace what it has become," according to a statement from the board in February. "As the only professional repertory theatre in the state of Kentucky, and one of the few remaining true repertory theatres in the country, the theatre feels that the name must announce that proudly. Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave achieves that goal."
The issue was also one of "branding." Newcomers to the theatre or those outside the state might not easily understand what a "Horse Cave Theatre" is: Do they present melodramas? Historical pageants? Western shows?
"It will help marketing outside of this region where theatre brochures are in ad racks up and down interstates," according to the announcement. "It will announce the theatre as a state theatre and will give the impression that it serves a very wide audience, which it does. The staff and board of directors believe this change will help greatly with fundraising. Corporations and individual givers will be able to feel ownership in the theatre and feel that their contributions are going to a regional arts organization versus a local one." Honorary board members are Annie Potts and Dylan Baker.
The 2004 regular season will open with Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling June 18, continuing to Sept. 19.
The season also includes the world premiere of The Honey Harvest by Liz Bussey Fentress, former Horse Cave Theatre associate producer. "Melissa needs a miracle," according to the announcement. "She is the sole caregiver for her father who suffers from depression. She becomes a beekeeper, believing if she can harvest a wondrous crop of honey, then possibly she can save him." The Honey Harvest is "a play about family, responsibility, and faith."
The play is the 18th world premiere produced through the Kentucky Voices Series. Performances run Aug. 6-Sept. 4.
Also on the 2004 slate are Richard Dresser's Rounding Third, about Little League dads, June 15-Sept. 18; Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, his peek at a newlyweds in New York City, July 2-Sept. 18; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sept. 23-Oct. 10; and a stage version of the classic novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Oct. 14-31.
Under the special presentations banner is a run of William Luce's The Belle of Amherst May 14-23; Vicky Ireland's The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, for children, Nov. 4-13; the comedy, A Tuna Christmas, Nov. 26-Dec. 19; the musical, I Do! I Do!, a collaboration between KRT and the Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra, April 23 & 24 at the Capital Arts Center in Bowling Green.
For more information, call the Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave box office at (800) 342-2177 or (270) 786-2177, or visit www.horsecavetheatre.org.
Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave was founded in 1976 through the vision of Horse Cave residents who identified a need to bring both cultural and economic growth to the area. The curtain rose for the first performance on June 10, 1977 with Warren Hammack leading as artistic director of what was then known as Horse Cave Theatre.
In 2002, Warren Hammack retired after guiding Horse Cave Theatre for 25 years. He was succeeded by Robert Brock.
The city of Horse Cave has a population of 2,252 in Hart County, Kentucky (population 17,445) — a rural area in the cave region of Southern Kentucky.
According to the website, "The structure that houses Kentucky Repertory Theatre was renovated for the first season in 1977 to accommodate a 346-seat auditorium featuring a modern thrust stage. At the same time, a structure designed to resemble a tobacco-curing barn indigenous to the area was built to provide space for the lobby and dressing rooms. A $1.3 million addition and renovation project, completed in 1993, reshaped two turn-of-the century buildings into one theatre-producing facility. The 1998 purchase of a residential building adjacent to the theatre and a commercial warehouse property less than one block away provided space for the theatre's administrative offices and a home for the scene and properties shops. The improvements have enabled the theatre to produce its programs more efficiently and to expand its production season and educational offerings through the winter months."