How the Other Half Loves Launches River Rep's 19th Summer Season in Ivoryton, CT

News   How the Other Half Loves Launches River Rep's 19th Summer Season in Ivoryton, CT
River Rep, the professional Equity theatre company in summer residence at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut, opens its 2005 season June 29 with Alan Ayckbourn's farce How the Other Half Loves.

This is the start of the New York-based company's 19th season at Ivoryton, and the second Ayckbourn play River Rep has tackled: In 1996 his Bedroom Farce was a great success, director Evan Thompson said.

The cast of How the Other Half Loves includes Jackie Sidle, Warren Kelley, Owen Thompson, Elisabeth Rodgers, David Christopher Wells and Jenn Thompson. Set design is by Nicole Coppinger.

Performances of How the Other Half Loves are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM; Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:30 PM; Sunday twilight matinee at 5 PM. There will be a talk-back session with members of the cast, June 30 after the performance.

Ticket prices are $27-$29.

The 2005 River Rep season includes All My Sons by Arthur Miller July 13-23, followed by Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado July 29-Aug. 6; Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband Aug. 10-20; and Donald Margulies' Dinner With Friends Aug. 24-Sept. 4. *

Warren Kelley is the company's artistic director. River Rep has staged 90 productions in the past 18 years, never repeating a title.

The Ivoryton Playhouse dates back to 1908 when the Comstock-Cheney Company used it as an entertainment space for its ivory factory workers (ivory was used to make piano keys at the company).

In 1930, Broadway stage manager Milton Stiefel opened a summer stock theatre in the venue, and drew stars there until 1976. Signed photos of the stars small and large (Helen Hayes, Ethel Waters, Groucho Marx, Tallulah Bankhead, Douglas Fairbanks and Katharine Hepburn) line the walls of the playhouse.

The Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation was organized to save the building in 1979, but a producing troupe didn't take lasting root for a number of years.

In 1987 producer Jane Stanton approached New Yorkers Joan Shepard and her husband, Evan Thompson, who had their own touring company, Fanfare Theatre Ensemble, and convinced them that together with Warren Kelley, they could make a success as the new producers of a company called the River Rep. With their son Owen Thompson and daughter Jenn Thompson they took the plunge and developed a diverse season of classic comedy, drama, music and mystery. The River Rep was an immediate success in that first summer season and the Ivoryton Playhouse was on the map again as a destination for professional — and continuing — theatre.

Actress Joan Shepard is managing director. Shepard, Evan Thompson, Owen Thompson, Jenn Thompson and Warren Kelley (all from New York City) and Julia Kiley (of West Hartford, CT) are the current producing partners in River Rep and all are beloved performers and directors at Ivoryton. Like many theatre companies that bring plays to small, tight-knit communities, the residents have embraced the troupers as friends and residents. Stanton is artistic director emeritus.

Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main St., in the Ivoryton section of Essex, Connecticut. For more information, visit

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