Rich Howells

1st episode of Wilkes-Barre crime drama ‘The Barre’ premieres at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Aug. 24

1st episode of Wilkes-Barre crime drama ‘The Barre’ premieres at Jazz Cafe in Plains on Aug. 24
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A little over a year since the first full trailer was released and two years since the initial teaser appeared online, the first episode of “The Barre,” a crime drama series set and produced in Wilkes-Barre, will premiere at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.

Cast and crew will be in attendance at the screening, which is $8 at the door (667 N. River St., Plains). An after-party with DJ Evil Bee will run from 9 p.m.-11 p.m.

Influenced by hit television shows like “The Wire,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “Power,” “The Barre” will tell a gritty story of gangsters, drugs, and violence through six episodes that are about an hour each. A synopsis sets the stage in Northeastern Pennsylvania:

Gentrification in New York City pushes families out of their homes and into small surrounding towns that aren’t equipped to handle the big city crime element that comes with it. A mixture of hustlers from Philly, Jersey and New York collide with the locals, breeding an endless cycle of violence, sex, and murder. Different characters on different paths in life all end up on the same road trying to reach the same goal – getting to the bag.

Amber is abused by her longtime boyfriend and ends up at the end of her ropes. With nothing left to live for, she gets the aid of Staxx, a local hustler who shows her the ins and outs of the drug game. With competition on their backs and a dirty detective getting closer to putting the pieces together, Amber realizes she’s playing a deadly game where few make it out alive.

The characters of “The Barre” will represent the environment itself. They are products of their environment, trying to stay afloat and survive daily. Wilkes-Barre is a character in itself – the buildings, the roads, the river, and even the names of each town and county.

Created by Terrell Bobbett and written by Tetro Augury, the independently produced series does not have an official release date yet as they continue seeking distribution. With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon growing in popularity all the time, it will hopefully find a home soon to reach a wider audience.

While some local residents aren’t happy with the way the city is being portrayed, the creators of the show noted how Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County’s history and recent opioid epidemic played into the setting in a press kit released last year:

Wilkes-Barre was founded in 1769 and formally incorporated in 1806. The city grew rapidly after the discovery of nearby coal reserves and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. The city reached the height of its prosperity in the first half of the 20th century, when its population reached just over 86,000. Following World War II, the city’s economy declined and the Knox Mine disaster accelerated this trend, when large portions of the area’s coal mines were flooded.

Today, the city has a population of 41,498, making it the 13th largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s the same city that the infamous “Kids for Cash” scandal/film/documentary was based in. “Kids for Cash” documents the Pennsylvania scandal of selling children into the prison system at the hands of corrupt Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., how Ciavarella got embedded in the privatized prison system, how children were profited off of, and the plight of the imprisoned minors. Luzerne County is known as one of the most corrupt counties in the United States.

The decline of the economy introduced heavy drug use and attracted out-of-town criminal elements. Profits being nearly doubled in the drug trade has made the small town of Wilkes-Barre irresistible to the big city underworld.

A new “sneak peak” scene featuring local actor James Callahan playing “Bryan” was uploaded last week:

Callahan and fellow actor Brittany Boote (“Lydia”), who also served as assistant director, will talk about their experience shooting “The Barre” on the next episode of the NEPA Scene Podcast, which streams live tonight on NEPA Scene’s Facebook page from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. Viewers are encouraged to tune in and ask questions about the show.

A behind-the-scenes featuring Boote and other cast members was uploaded late last year: