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Barter Theatre Presents Kentucky Spring

Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, is hosting the world premiere of the new musical Kentucky Spring, a story of love, longing, and second chances set in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. 

Written by Catherine Bush, a former Kentuckian now residing in nearby Abingdon, with music & lyrics by Dax Dupuy, Kentucky Spring was the 2021 selected winner of Barter’s signature Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP).

The annual festival was founded 22 years ago to promote and celebrate the stories and writers of the Appalachian region and has developed dozens of new plays, many of which have gone on to be published and produced across the United States following their debut on Barter’s stage.

“Our festival proudly cultivates Appalachian writers and stories that reflect the beauty, dignity, and complexity of our region and the people who live here,” says Nick Piper, Barter Theatre’s AFPP director. “Over 350 writers from the region submit their scripts each year, from which we select a small handful to present as staged readings to a packed audience of locals, who in turn are invited to provide feedback to the writers. Kentucky Spring and other plays resulting from this process are truly shaped by real Appalachians and are indisputably authentic and original.”

Kentucky Spring, which opened April 23, centers around Becky, who has worked all her life to get out of the mountains. When her grandmother Maud decides to sell the family farm, Becky is forced to confront who she is and who she wants to be. This musical fable flashes between the past and the present, revealing “what might have been” and “what still might be.”

Catherine Bush’s script was inspired by the poem Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier.

The show’s music features original songs like “Belong To The City,” sung by lead actress Zoë Velling and written by Bush’s collaborator Dax Dupuy.

“This is a play not only set in Appalachia; it truly celebrates what it means to be Appalachian,” says Katy Brown, Barter Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director. “You get to follow Becky’s story through incredible, soaring music that you will never forget. We can’t wait to share Kentucky Spring with our audiences.”

“There are so many negative stereotypes about Appalachians, but if the end of the world were coming, I would go with them,” says playwright Catherine Bush. “Appalachians know the land. They do brave things every day. Families take care of each other here. These are good people who want to move their communities forward.”

Tickets for the show start at $20, and it will run through May 22. For more information, visit

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