The company's 19th season begins June 29-July 9 with Alan Ayckbourn's farce How the Other Half Loves.
Also on the list are:
Aug. 24-Sept. 4 – Dinner With Friends, Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of two couples and the aftermath of a divorce. 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. Stanton is artistic director emeritus.
River Rep performances at the Ivoryton Playhouse are Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM; with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30 PM, twilight matinee Sunday at 5 PM. Tickets range $27-$29. Season subscriptions (five-shows for the price of four) run $108-$116. For information, call (860) 767-2954. The box office opens May 24 at (860) 767-8348.
Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main St., Ivoryton section of Essex, CT. Visit www.riverrep.com.