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The show must go on, despite a legal battle: Theater production to continue after being locked out

After a rival non-profit, The Keta Legacy Foundation, locked the Mountaineers out of their outdoor theater, a judge granted the group temporary access.

EDMONDS, Wash. — Maria and the Von Trapp family may "have confidence in sunshine," but that confidence was a little shaken this week when they were locked out of their own stage venue.

"We were so shocked that they would have done this," The Mountaineers' CEO Tom Vogl said.

The first official play at the Kitsap Forest Theater was performed exactly 100 years ago this June, but this year could be The Mountaineers Players' last year performing there if they lose a legal battle in September.

"We literally have thousands of people that come out and see our shows every summer," said Vogl.

The century-old venue known for its peace and tranquility now lies at the center of a fierce legal battle.

"To lock us out right before the opening of the Sound of Music, we were really disappointed with that," said Vogl. "We’ve had a longstanding legal dispute with the Keta Legacy Foundation.”

According to Vogl, the Keta Legacy Foundation used to be the fundraising arm for The Mountaineers, but they parted ways with them in 2015 and since then, there's been some tension as the land is now divided between the two.

Vogl said there is a long-standing easement that rightfully grants the thespians access to the land.

"They expressed some concerns about the care for the property," said Vogl. "We care deeply about this area. It’s just hard for us to believe that that would be an issue that has any legitimacy.”

In court documents, Keta also expressed concerns about someone getting hurt on the “steep, narrow, winding woodland pathway.”

"We’ve been running productions out at this location for 100 years, and we’ve never had an incident," said Vogl.

On Wednesday, however, a judge approved The Mountaineers’ temporary restraining order.

"The judge believed that Keta would not be harmed by granting this motion and allowing this season to proceed," said Vogl.

So it turned out to be a happy ending for the cast and crew of the Sound of Music. They have spent this week loading set pieces and props into the venue to prepare for their Sunday, May 28 opening.

But the future of the Kitsap Forest Theater productions remains unclear.

"We’ll see what the courts decide in September," said Vogl.

The Mountaineers Players' production of the Sound of Music begins Sunday at 2 p.m. and runs through June 18. Everyone involved is a volunteer and The Mountaineers are a 501(c)(3).

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