Top-notch summer productions are gearing up at many outdoor theaters across Kentucky, some of which have been providing family entertainment for more than a half-century.
A newer addition to the lineup — an outdoor drama based on the Hatfield-McCoy feud — returns this summer for its second season at a Pike County amphitheater located in the heart of the region where the conflict played out.
“Blood Song: The Story of the Hatfields and the McCoys” is scheduled to run weekends from July 25 through Sept. 1 at the Hatfield-McCoy Outdoor Theater in McCarr near Pikeville. Produced by Artists Collaborative Theatre of Elkhorn City, “Blood Song” is expected to attract visitors eager also to view local sites made famous by the feuding clans from Kentucky and West Virginia who battled in the late 19th century.
“Last summer there was a steady stream of buses from Cincinnati, Lexington and Louisville” bringing visitors to see the play, Tony Tackett, executive director of the Pike County Tourism Commission, said in a press release.
He said organizers are expecting bigger crowds this summer, particularly during the Hatfield-McCoy Heritage Days festival Aug. 29-31.
The amphitheater, located in the heart of feud country near the Kentucky-West Virginia border, features bleacher-style seating, but patrons are welcome to bring lawn chairs. Tickets are available at the amphitheater. The $10 admission is cash only. For more information, visit www.hatfieldmccoyarts.com or call 606-432-2534.
From Shakespeare to Stephen Foster, live performances of dramas, comedies and musicals excite the mind and lift the spirit. Here’s a list of some other prominent summer productions:
>My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown.
“Stephen Foster — The Musical,” now in its 56th season, the outdoor drama inspired by the composer of “My Old Kentucky Home” is presented June 14 through Aug. 16. Also, July 10 through Aug. 9, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will take the stage.
For more information, wisit www.stephenfoster.com or call 800-626-1563.
>Jenny Wiley Theatre, Prestonsburg. This Kentucky state park venue, celebrating its 50th season, now features an indoor theater as well as the traditional amphitheater.
The schedule includes: “A Second Helping — The Church Basement Ladies Sequel,” May 29 through July 18. “Peter Pan,” June 12 through Aug. 2. “South Pacific,” June 26 through Aug. 1. “Feud Part 1: The Story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy,” Aug. 21 through Sept. 19. “Feud Part 2: Firebrand — The Untold Story of Tolbert McCoy,” Aug. 28 through Sept. 20.
For more information, visit www.jwtheatre.com or call 606-886-9274.
>Pioneer Playhouse, Danville. Catch dinner and a show at Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theater, now preparing its 65th season.
The schedule includes: “Whodunnit, Darling?” June 6-21. “Is He Dead?” June 24 through July 5. “The Wonder Team,” July 8-19. “Walking Across Egypt,” July 22 through Aug. 2. “A Visit from Scarface,” Aug. 5-16. “Special Comedy Weekend — Etta May Returns!” Aug. 21-23.
Visit www.pioneerplayhouse.com or call 866-597-5297 for more information.
>Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Louisville. The nation’s oldest free Shakespeare festival marks its 54th season in Central Park.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” June 11-22. “Henry V,” June 25 through July 6. “Hamlet,” July 10-13. “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” July 31 through Aug. 3. “As You Like It” and “Pericles,” rotating Aug. 5-10. “King Lear” and “Women of Will,” rotating Aug. 12-17. Visit http://www.kyshakespeare.com or call 502-637-4933 for more information.
>Kincaid Regional Theatre, Falmouth.
Nestled on the banks of the Licking River, the amphitheater in its 32nd season will present “Willy Wonka Jr.” June 15-21 and “All Shook Up,” July 5-26. Visit www.krtshows.com or call 859-654-2636 for more information.
At the Moondance Amphitheatre, the schedule of this festival in its third decade includes “Twelfth Night,” July (dates TBA) and “Little Shop of Horrors,” July-August (dates TBA). For more information, visit http://mykct.org/summerfest.html or call 859-935-1564.
>Pine Knob Theatre, Caneyville.
“Dock Brown — Legend of an Outlaw” continues in its 27th season. Also on the schedule for June through September (dates TBA) are: “Down in Hoodoo Holler,” “Be Bop a Lula,” “Lucy and Ruth’s Diner,” and “Daddy Took the T-Bird Away.” Visit www.pineknob.com or call 270-879-8190 for more information.
>Twilight Cabaret Productions, Mayfield.
An original comedy will be presented June 20 through July 26 (details TBA). Visit www.twilightcabaretproductions.org or call 270-436-2399 for more information.
Get into the act this summer with outdoor theater in Kentucky. More information is available at www.kentuckytourism.com. For information on productions at Kentucky State Parks, visit www.parks.ky.gov.