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Kingsport Theatre Guild to stage 'West Side Story'

Holly Viers • Aug 8, 2019 at 3:23 PM

KINGSPORT — The first show of Kingsport Theatre Guild’s 2019-2020 season will open Friday night, and tickets are still available.

KTG will stage “West Side Story,” a modernized rendition of “Romeo and Juliet,” this weekend and next at the Renaissance Center mainstage. Tina Radtke, executive director of KTG, said the show is unique in that the cast features several families, and it will include a full orchestra.

“To my knowledge, KTG has never done this show before,” Radtke said. “Last time it was done in the area, it was 30 years ago by Theatre Bristol. So it’s been a long time coming.”

How to attend

The first performance will take place Friday at 7 p.m. Other performances will take place Saturday and next Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday and next Sunday at 2 p.m.; and next Friday at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, students and military personnel; and $10 for children. They can be purchased online at kingsporttheatre.org, over the phone at (423) 392-8427, by email at [email protected] or at the door before the performances.

About the show

According to the musical’s official description, “Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is transported to modern-day New York City as two young, idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.”

The production is rated PG-13 for strong language, violence and gang-related themes. Radtke said the cast is comprised of 32 people, 21 of whom are part of a family unit.

“We have a lot of full-family involvement,” Radtke said. “This is definitely a family-driven show as far as the cast numbers.”

Also on stage will be a 24-piece orchestra, which will feature both high school musicians and professionals. The conductor, a recent Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate, is the youngest KTG has ever had and is currently attending school in New York, Radtke added.

Why watch?

Radtke said she’s excited about the show because even though it was written in the mid-1950s, its themes still resonate today.

“I think probably now just as much as ever, that storyline, the basis of the show, still rings true,” Radtke said. “People need to … see each other for who they are and not their socioeconomic class or their color or their religion or any political views. We’ve got to remember that we’re all individuals, aside from whatever labels people want to put us under.”

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