River Rep's Proof Has Real-Life Father and Daughter Playing Tensions of a Broken Bond, Aug. 25-Sept. 5

News   River Rep's Proof Has Real-Life Father and Daughter Playing Tensions of a Broken Bond, Aug. 25-Sept. 5
In a casting twist that is likely a first for the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Proof, the father and daughter characters of Robert and Catherine are played by real-life father and daughter in the Aug. 25-Sept. 5 run by River Rep at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut.

Evan Thompson plays the mentally-disintegrating math genius who may have passed his gifts — and his affliction — onto his daughter, played by Jenn Thompson. Both performers have Broadway and regional credits and are producing partners in the Equity River Rep company.

They are part of a wider New York City theatrical family that includes wife and mother Joan Shepard (an actress) and son and brother Owen Thompson (an actor). All share producing, acting and/or directing duties in River Rep, a summer stock outfit in residence at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Warren Kelley is River Rep artistic director, and Julia Kiley (who plays sister Claire in Proof) is a producing partner who acts and directs.

"We have played father and daughter a couple times here, but never anything with this much weight," Jenn Thompson told Playbill On-Line. "I think the thing that's so amazing about working with my dad on this is that they share a profession just like we share a profession in life. There are so many mirror images to us. There is so much to relate to, it's like falling off a log. Robert and Catherine speak the language of mathematics to connect, just like my father and I speak the language of theatre. It's been amazing to combine those two things."

Of the rehearsal process, she added, "There are some moments when the play falls away, when you can experience the feelings and it doesn't feel like you're in a play — it just feels like your life."

Jenn Thompson, who has been friends and colleagues with Julia Kiley for many years, said playing a sister to Kiley is also full of ease: "I am so close to Julia. I don't have a sister, but if I had a sister it would be her." In Proof, David Christopher Wells plays Hal, a math student and potential suitor to Catherine.

The production is directed by Stephen Kunken, who played Hal in the Broadway and national touring productions of Proof.

Tony Award-winning playwright David Auburn, who met Kunken while they were fellow students in the Juilliard theatre program, will be in Ivoryton for a special talkback Aug. 29. Kunken appeared in the premiere of Auburn's The Journals of Mihail Sebastian Off-Broadway in 2003-04.

Designers for River Rep's Proof are Tony Andrea (set), Josh Bradford (lighting), Adam Elander (sound) and Ruby Tassler (costume). Original music is by Jeffrey Kunken.

Performances play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2:30 PM and Sunday twilight matinees at 5 PM.

Tickets are $25-27, with senior and under 12 discounts available. The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main St., Ivoryton, CT, off Route 9.

Proof is the final show in the 18th River Rep season at Ivoryton. For ticket information, call the box office at (860) 767-2954 or visit www.riverrep.com.

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