The Schoolhouse Theater, the resident Equity theater company that has produced classic and new works in Westchester County, New York since 1986, relights as a live performance venue this spring under new artistic director Owen Thompson. The worst years of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the company to switch to a virtual performance platform 2020-22, during which time the troupe’s so-called “Pandemic Players” popularly presented 110 scripts on Zoom.
Starting April 14, the first live production since 2020, John Logan’s Red, will be presented under Thompson’s direction in the 99-seat theater within the newly renovated 1925 building, a former elementary school. Performances play to April 30.
The building is owned by the town of North Salem, which bought the dwelling from the heirs of the late owner Leandra “Lee” Pope, who first transformed the school into a visual arts center in 1983. At that time, classrooms were turned into galleries and studio spaces.
Pope launched the theater company in 1986. Jack Palance’s daughter Brooke and actor/producer Michael Wilding — son of Elizabeth Taylor — performed in Bedroom Farce, the company’s first show, leading to its current reputation as Westchester’s oldest non-profit professional theater. Learn more about its history (including staging shows that moved to Off-Broadway) here.
Veteran actor, director, producer and educator Owen Thompson isn’t exactly new to the role of artistic director at Schoolhouse. He assumed the position in 2021, during the pandemic, but Red marks his first live-and-in-person work there as artistic director.
A three-title 2023 season (including Red) is planned, said Thompson, who runs the theater with Bram Lewis, the company’s producing director who previously served as artistic director. The company has a history of presenting world premieres, contemporary classics like Red, and classics of world theater. (Check out the titles of the many Zoom readings that the company presented during the pandemic 2020-23.)
Joan Ross Sorkin’s (mis)Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story is planned for fall 2023. An additional title will be announced later.
Among his many gigs over the years, Owen Thompson was a resident artist and producing partner in River Rep Theatre Company in Ivoryton, CT, for 19 seasons and has acted, directed and/or produced in New York City and around the country. He has also taught at Fordham University and Marymount Manhattan College.
The Tony Award-winning Red, the two-character play about abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, plays April 14-30 on Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Patrick Lawlor plays Rothko. David Beck plays his new studio assistant, Ken.
Schoolhouse Theater operates under an SPT 5 agreement with Actors’ Equity Association. For the record, the theater’s location is technically the Village of Croton Falls in the town of North Salem, NY.
The Schoolhouse Theater is at 3 Owens Road in Croton Falls, NY.
For tickets and more information, visit www.theschoolhousetheater.org.