The seeds for the White River Valley Players were sown in 1974 when a theater group from Peacham Academy came through town with a production of Godspell. Enthralled by this musical, Rochester High School students were inspired to present the first show in the newly built auditorium in the fall of 1974. It was a musical version of Pinocchio, and led to the production of three more full-length musicals at Rochester High School. Although these shows had student actors, there were many adults who lent their talents to the production end.
As enthusiasm built, these adults decided it was time to have a community-based theater organization. In a 1979 summer production of The Fantastiks, students and community members combined their talents, and it became clear that a formal organization was needed to continue the work that had been started.
In October of 1979 Kathy and Gary Gaskill and Dick and Dorothy Robson met and decided to organize a community theater group based in Rochester, Vermont, to be called the White River Valley Players. A mission statement and by-laws were written, and a board of directors was formed. Board meetings were held monthly at Annabelle’s Restaurant in Stockbridge. The Players’ first show was a children’s play, The Invisible Dragon, and was directed by Jack Power.
It played in Rochester and traveled to several adjacent towns, thus launching the White River Valley Players.