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JRT continues to ‘take the stage’ for local audiences


Staff Writer

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For Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, the phrase “The Show Must Go On” has become their motto.

When COVID hit in 2020, the people of JRT knew that, now more than ever, the community needed

distraction and entertainment. And that is just what they did.

“We knew people wanted performances and that the audience wants normalcy,” Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt,artistic director for the theatre, said. “We sold out ‘The Sound of Music’. We’re back!”

The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre overcame the odds that COVID threw at the performing arts and made sure the community was still able to get a taste of life before the pandemic. They kept very busy in a safe way.

“We were doing street shows during this time. During Christmas, we sang Christmas songs outside in the courtyard of the Storytelling Center and went caroling,” Ross-Bernhardt said. “And in February we gave a preview of upcoming shows. The JRT Players also performed at the gazebo for the community.”

Despite continuing to do what they love outdoors, they missed the feeling of being on stage in a real theatre.

“There is nothing like that live theatre environment,” Ross-Bernhardt said. “We are so thankful to the Bonnie Kate for opening their doors and letting us move in. We are bringing people in for shows to help them and they are giving us a place to perform.”

When it came time to perform on the stage, JRT found its stage in the midst of the ongoing Jackson Theatre Project. Fortunately, the Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton was available.

The partnership, Ross-Bernhardt believes, helps more than the JRT. “It sends a message to the community. And it helps keep spirits up,” she said.

“It sends positivity and hope.”

JRT not only performs shows on a stage, they also have the Enchanted Experiences, including a Princess Extravaganza that was held on Easter.

“They do parties, events and even had an Alice in Wonderland tea party at the gazebo” Ross-Bernhardt said. “All the JRT Players are committed to the community.”

So, what is coming up next for JRT? Bernhard said there is much to look forward to in the coming season.

“On August 8 we will be having a Broadway actor doing a fundraiser performance at JRT. At the end of August we will be performing ‘Something Rotten’ which is hilarious and contemporary,” Ross-Bernhardt said. “Coming up in July we have the 1940’s USO Show, which I feel is an important production to honor veterans and the country. Now is the time to sing about the good things in our country.”

JRT will be in the Bonnie Kate until July 18, at which time they will move back into their newly renovated space on Main Street.