top of page

A Labor of Love A new baby and new play At The Ivoryton Playhouse

Lisa Helmi Johanson is no stranger to the violin. She’s been playing for over 20 years. What is new to Lisa, however, is motherhood. Just four weeks before arriving in Connecticut to take on the role of Mira, the fiddle-playing granddaughter in the Ivoryton Playhouse’s upcoming world premiere of THE PORCH ON WINDY HILL, Lisa gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Junho.

With the help of her husband Jake, a New York City special education teacher who has taken an extended leave-of-absence to support his wife’s stage dreams, Lisa has not shied away from performing while pregnant or after becoming a new mother. In fact, while eight months pregnant she was tap dancing in a New York City festival showcase.

Lisa was trained as a classical violinist (a talent she also exhibits in the show), but also has a great understanding of how “fiddling” in a bluegrass show is different. “A lot of it is the economy of bow in fiddle playing,” she says. “There’s almost a certain level of ease in how you use the bow. Because even when you’re playing a lot of fast notes in fiddle music, there’s still an ease – it’s like water flowing really quickly.”

She notes that the cast and directors have been nothing but supportive as she balances both roles simultaneously, joking, “I wouldn’t recommend it but it is a positive experience. The difference is, pun intended, [this show] is a labor of love.”

THE PORCH ON WINDY HILL, opening September 23. Featuring longtime Playhouse favorite David Lutken*, the musical play, directed by Sherry Lutken, also stars Lisa Helmi Johanson*, Morgan Morse* and EJ Zimmerman* at selected performances.

This talented band of musicians wrote this piece during the roller coaster ride of 2020 and 2021. They bring to the work their own experiences in the world of country and bluegrass music and Lisa’s own experiences as a bi-racial Korean American.

THE PORCH ON WINDY HILL is the heartfelt story of an Appalachian family’s roots and the music that binds them together. When Edgar’s estranged granddaughter, Mira, and her boyfriend Beckett, descend on the old family home, Edgar must face his past prejudices in order to rekindle their relationship. Featuring traditional bluegrass favorites “Birmingham Jail,” “Down in the Valley,” “Blackberry Blossom,” “Little Log Cabin in the Lane,” and “Columbus Stockade Blues,” among many others, this sharply observed show deepens our understanding of what it means to be an American, and in a truly American way, uses music to build bridges and remind us of our shared humanity.

The play has sets designed by Martin Marchitto; costumes by Elizabeth Saylor; lighting design by Alan Piotrowicz; and sound by Tate R. Burmeister.

THE PORCH ON WINDY HILL opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Thursday, September 23rd and runs through Sunday, October 17th, 2021. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm. There will be one Thursday matinee at 2:00 pm on September 23rd.

The safety of our audience is our primary concern. We have socially distanced our capacity so that there are only 140 seats in the theatre for your comfort and protection.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online. Visit our website at for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*Denotes member of Actors Equity

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page