LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Center is officially back, with the first production taking the stage since a three-alarm fire in June destroyed part of its roof and damaged other areas of the building.
The Louisville Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet premiered Friday with a school matinee. The crowd of about 700 students brought energy back to the venue.
Longtime volunteers were almost as excited about the re-opening as their young visitors.
“All the beaming smiles we saw going in, I hope they enjoy it and I know they will," volunteer Rita Boehn said.
The ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is a revamped production with new costumes, new sets and new choreography.
Robert Curran, the ballet’s artistic director, said it’s fitting they will be the first to take the stage since the fire.
“It’s perfect. It’s exactly the way it should be,” Curran said. “Sharing the space with the Louisville Orchestra, being in Whitney Hall -- two resident companies creating amazing work together. It’s what Louisville’s all about.”
Witnessing the first performance by the Louisville Ballet back in the Kentucky Center brought pride to Western Middle School’s 7th and 8th grade dance majors, and to teachers.
“It’s real exciting," teacher Tamara Begley said. “I’m so grateful for us to have this opportunity to see this production, but for the community to be able to see the arts here again. I’m really grateful it was able to open up as quickly as it did.”
While repairs are nearly complete, ballet patrons got a look behind the curtain at the construction progress.
“The theaters are in really wonderful shape,” Kim Baker, the President and CEO of the Kentucky Center, said. “But the general public will definitely see that we’re under construction.”
Guests will notice scaffolding in the main lobby, where the carpet has been removed. But most everything else is back to normal, including The Scene at the Center restaurant and bar.
Complete repairs are not expected to be finished until next spring. Officials estimated the restoration to be complete in April, but in the meantime the shows will go on!
After the run of Romeo and Juliet, the next event at the Kentucky Center features Reese Witherspoon as she visits Louisville on her Whiskey in a Teacup Tour on Sept. 21.
Looking ahead, patrons can get excited about upcoming shows such as Disney’s Aladdin, Girls Night The Musical and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert.