Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Business

September 14, 2011

Pikeville bound

Jenny Wiley Theatre leaving Prestonsburg after 47 years

ASHLAND — After nearly a half century as a summertime attraction a Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, the Jenny Wiley Theatre — the only professional theatre company in Kentucky located east of Interstate 75 — is moving to a new home.

The promise of a new indoor theater and the chance to present quality theater year-round proved to be more than enough to convince the theater company to move from Prestonsburg to Pikeville after 47 years of calling the state park home.

The move comes after Pikeville officials agreed last week to contribute $1.2 million toward the construction of a theater and $50,000 annually for 20 years for operational costs, according to Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn.

The theater company is not completely abandoning Prestonsburg. The agreement calls for a minimum of five theatrical performances each year in Pikeville and allows up to two in Prestonsburg.

For almost five decades, the Jenny Wiley Theatre has given scores of talented actors, singers and musicians a chance to perform professionally. While few went on to enjoy long careers in professional theater and no one got rich from performing for the theater company, it did prove to be an excellent stepping stone for the most talented performers to go on to careers at outstanding regional theaters like Actors Theater of Louisville, or on Broadway  and in television and movies.

For many local residents who love live theater, a trip to see a musical at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park was a must for every summer, and many attended several shows each year. THey always knew that they would always see a quality show at Jenny Wiley. While it takes a bit longer for those in these parts to drive to Pikeville for a play, we are confident many still will find it worth the drive to see a top-notch play. However, we are also glad that there still will be a few plays at the state park.

Pikeville gave the Jenny Wiley Theatre an offer it could not refuse. Our hope is that is will make a good theatrical company even better.

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