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JRT brings nostalgic play to life

The Meet Me in St. Louis cast comes together for a scene during the weekend showing.

By Allen Rau

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The local version of a Hollywood classic is on display at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre in downtown Jonesborough for the next two weekends. Featuring volunteers entirely from the Tri-Cities, the musical is the story of a 1903 family going through the trials and tribulations of life while prepping for the 1904 World’s Fair.

“Come and have a good time and enjoy a nostalgic moment” Director Karen Elb said, “Come and relax for a moment.”

According to Elb, the JRT’s version was to a large extent faithful to the original movie. After re-watching the original film, she said, she saw “how sweet and hopeful the story is.  (It) comes together in this beautiful tapestry.”

The story involves two daughters searching for that special someone and the humorous interactions within the family and the situations they encounter.

“We basically have three love stories going on.  You’ve got Esther and the boy next door and Esther’s older sister and her beau, Warren,“ Elb said. “And then you’ve got mother and father as well. I think their love story is my favorite in the whole play but that’s probably because I’m a little bit older and I’m a mom, too.”

All the actors are local, including students at the theatre and local high schools. Elb said that some have backgrounds in the professional theater and some in community theater, but most majored or minored in some type of theater in school. 

“A lot of us just love doing it and have learned by doing it,” she said.  “They’re all doing a tremendous job … putting just a tremendous amount of work and love into it.”

Elb herself grew up immersed in theater.  “I grew up backstage when I was a little kid hanging out in the green room and the dressing rooms and in the makeup rooms and playing with costumes.”

She was offered her first apprenticeship at 20 years old at a professional regional theater working mostly in technical areas.

After a few years off to raise her child, Elb returned to the theater and branched out into acting as well.

“And I always wanted to direct,” Elb said, and is now on her fourth directing job, and her third for the JRT.

“I learned about everything in theater that I possibly could … because I wanted to know everything about process.

“To understand how all of it comes together. Because that’s the best way to be a good director.”

Anyone interested in seeing the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” can purchase tickets online at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s website, by phone at 423-753-1010 or at the JRT’s Stage Door Box Office.

  The final show is Sunday, Feb. 11 and there are performances on Fridays, two on Saturday and one Sunday.