The White River Valley Players are approaching their 40th anniversary of bringing live theater to the town of Rochester, Vermont (pop. 1,100), and the surrounding valley towns.
We have been presenting an average of three or four productions annually since we were founded in 1979. Two of our founders, Dick and Dorothy Robson of Hancock, are still on the board of directors. Dick is an actor, director, singer, dancer, musician and playwright and Dorothy is a musician, composer, actress, playwright and music director.
We are a community theater group, run by volunteers.
We do occasionally pay people, such as our beloved choreographer, Karen Amirault of Burlington, who has done our spring musicals for the past 20 years. We also number among our board members Ethan Bowen, a professional actor, director, playwright and teacher, who lives here in Rochester. He also served as our artistic director for two years.
In 2000, Dick, Dorothy and Ethan wrote a full-length original musical play, “Second Chance,” which had its world premiere on our stage. It was a big hit, with six sold-out performances, and we recorded a cast album CD.
Over the years we’ve done a huge range of shows, everything from Broadway musicals to Brecht. We’ve done full-length plays and evenings of original one-acts. We’ve also developed events: for many years we produced Summernight (think “First Night” but in July). Our Harvest Fair (a fall fair on our town green, with a full day of live entertainment, arts and crafts, food, a flower show, children’s activities, and a lot more) has been a tradition on the first weekend after Labor Day since 1987, and is still going strong. We also have an annual “Night Before Night Before Christmas” event (referred to as “NBNBX” for short), featuring songs, stories, poems, and community cheer on (you guessed it) the night before the night before Christmas.
One of our goals is to share our love of theater…and get all the training we can. Over the years, we’ve held numerous training workshops in playwriting, acting, improv, voice, lighting and more. In 2001, we developed a training wing we call “Actor’s Kitchen” which is an ongoing series of workshops in a variety of theater related skills for teens and adults.
Our first weeklong theater arts camp for kids with 42 kids grades 2-8, was held August 2002 at High Rise in Rochester and was a big success, and has been repeated every year since then. We also give a number of scholarships each year to area people (youth mostly) to help them study theater and music, including an annual award to a graduating senior from our local high school who has been active in theater, the Stephen Bloch Memorial Award.
We’ve done 90% of what we do with volunteers who love the magic of theater.