Theatre of Gadsden performing The Outsiders


The streets of early sixties Tulsa might not seem so mean at first, but for the characters in “The Outsiders” – as well as the audience – events have a way of educating everyone.

The play of S.E. Hinton’s classic novel of social classes and teenage angst is the next production of the Theatre of Gadsden.

“The Outsiders” has been a staple of high school English class reading lists for years and was made into a memorable 1983 film by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise. But first-time director Brian Jones said he wanted to engage with the material through fresh eyes.

“I didn’t want to approach it with any preconceived notions of what it was supposed to look like,” Jones said. “I wanted the perspective in order to bring a different version of the show to life.”

It’s also the first leading role for Jordan Davis, who plays Ponyboy Curtis, one of the Greasers and the novel’s protagonist. His first exposure to the story was watching the movie with his mother.

He said he hopes audiences come away with an appreciation of “how useless some fights are.”

“Everyone is just a person,” Davis said. “We all have our own struggles. The people in the story – you see them laughing, goofing off, then you see their home life, and it’s not good at all. It shows how one person’s decision can affect everyone and take a toll of everyone’s life.”

Davis’ brother Tristan plays Sodapop, the popular member of the group. He said the play differs from the book and movie in that it gives you a little more about the characters. Even though “The Outsiders” was written nearly 60 years ago, it still holds up for a young audience.

“I would like people to come away realizing that where they come from doesn’t matter,” he said. “The environment they’re raised in doesn’t define who they are. They can be more than they think they can be.”

Jude Roberts, who plays Johnny Cade, said he read the book a few months before trying out at the suggestion of his mother.  But he’s avoided the movie, as he wants to be true to the book.

“I think it still speaks to what it’s like for teens,” Roberts said. “Anyone can do a bad thing, and what they do really affects people.”

Jones has been performing and working with the Theatre of Gadsden since 2017, doing everything from lights to sound to conducting a musical. While he didn’t choose “The Outsiders” for his first time directing, he thinks the show’s themes are enduring.

“The impact of classes and cycles of violence, and the reasons people don’t like each other – that’s timeless,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, it will always be timeless. When people think back to the late ’50s and early ’60s, they think of it as good times, but it’s a crushing reminder that humanity has always been this way. And if we don’t learn our lessons, we will always repeat history.”

Shows will take place May 3 through 5, and May 10 through 12 at the Historic Ritz Theatre. Tickets are available at

Submitted by Theatre of Gadsden. Photo courtesy of Mo & Jo Photography. 

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