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Iconic coming-of-age story, ‘The Outsiders,’ takes the stage March 14

Theatre of Youth brings one of the most important stories in young adult literature to life with their production of “The Outsider’s” March 14-April 5.

Adapted by Christopher Sergel from the book by then-17-year-old S.E. Hinton, “The Outsiders” tells the story of two bitter rival groups of teenagers—the rich-kid Socs and the tough, underprivileged Greasers—and the territorial battles that are an everyday part of life.

“This show is grittier and more realistic than any I’ve done in the past, with a more visceral type of fighting,” said Director Chris Kelly, who has directed six other TOY productions. Kelly added that the cast of 15—the largest he has worked with at TOY—was necessary to accurately depict the fight scenes and life-and-death stakes in this play, which is strongly recommended for ages 12+ due to a portrayal of gang violence.

Told through the eyes of greaser Ponyboy, whose shared love of literature and sunsets with Soc Cherry Valance rises above the class conflicts, the story is ultimately one of belonging, chosen family, friendship and maintaining hope in the face of struggle—and is a powerful reminder of what young people encounter.

“Students appreciate that the story takes their concerns and teenage world view seriously, without talking down to them,” said Kelly, who is also a high school teacher. “The story seems very modern to them and they feel like they are these kids.”

Portrayed with an honesty and rawness that are true to the book, the characters in “The Outsiders” are emotionally exposed, which is reflected in the open and rugged stage design that includes rusted metal pieces that hang from the ceiling.

“Both the book and movie are ingrained in people’s minds,” added Kelly. “We will honor those expectations while presenting our own take on the story.”

Tickets start at $15 and are available online at theatreofyouth.org or by calling 716-884-4400, ext. 304. Performances are March 14-April 5, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the historic Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St., Buffalo, which is handicapped accessible. Audiences can partake in a Talk-Back and photo opportunity with the cast after all performances.