Final Opening Night for Huntington Outdoor Theater

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – After 20 summers of performances, Huntington Outdoor Theater will soon be taking its final bow.

Friday night they performed their final opening night at Ritter Park’s amphitheater, debuting their 2013 production of “Hairspray.”

The brutal heat and strong storms kept crowds away from last summer's show, leaving them in a financial pinch.

"It was crippling to everyone," H.O.T. director and co-founder Helen Freeman said.

Freeman says that along with what she calls inadequate funding from the state are forcing the theater group to shut down.

"It’s a shame because it keeps kids off the streets, and we can't support it the right way,” Freeman said.

"It's really sad because this is what I look forward to every summer, so it's going to be weird not doing it any more," H.O.T. performer Alaina Krantz from Milton said.

This is Levi Kelly's seventh year in the group. The Marshall theater major says his summers in Huntington Outdoor Theater led him to pursue a career in performing.

"It is sad that it's ending,” he said. “Even if it's ending, people are going to talk about it for many years to come."

Freeman says they had to average about 500 people in the audience to be able to break even, and the bad weather last year left them well below half of that.

“Hairspray” can be seen every weekend in July.

Gates open at 6:30 for picnicking. The show starts at 8:30. Tickets cost $15.

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