Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner launched Dare, Tennessee's Lesbian and Gay Newsweekly which later became known as Query. Ellis is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theater in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly.  He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors - the history of which can be traced to 1989 and the first presentation of The First Night Awards - which honor outstanding theater artisans from Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and also includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors recognition. Midwinter's First Night honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. An accomplished director, Ellis helmed productions of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, all in their Nashville premieres, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show. Ellis was recognized by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, and in 2016, he directed Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest for The Larry Keeton Theatre. He will direct My Fair Lady for The Keeton in 2017.

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BWW Review: Studio Tenn's Stunning EVITA Makes History on Opening Night With Powerful PerformancesBWW Review: Studio Tenn's Stunning EVITA
Posted: Sep. 10, 2016

BWW Review: Nashville Ballet's Lushly Romantic CINDERELLA Opens the New SeasonBWW Review: Nashville Ballet's Lushly Romantic CINDERELLA
Posted: Sep. 17, 2016

Staged Reading This Week for New Dan Fogelberg Musical PART OF THE PLANStaged Reading for New Dan Fogelberg Musical PART OF THE PLAN
Posted: Sep. 21, 2016

Collegiate Theatrics: Belmont University's LEXIE McENTIRECollegiate Theatrics: Belmont University's LEXIE McENTIRE
Posted: Sep. 27, 2016

High School Drama: Middle Tennessee Christian School's SHELBY JONESHigh School Drama: SHELBY JONES
Posted: Sep. 28, 2016


Nashville Children's Theatre's SCOT COPELAND DiesNashville Children's Theatre's SCOT COPELAND Dies
Posted: Feb. 25, 2016

BWW Review: Studio Tenn's Stunning EVITA Makes History on Opening Night With Powerful PerformancesBWW Review: Studio Tenn's Stunning EVITA
Posted: Sep. 10, 2016

BWW Interviews: CINDERELLA's Blair Ross 'Comes Home' to Play 'Madame'Blair Ross 'Comes Home' to Play 'Madame'
Posted: Oct. 16, 2015

Nashville Theater Mourns the Passing of Iconic Actor DAVID COMPTONNashville Theater Mourns Passing of DAVID COMPTON
Posted: May. 5, 2016

Collegiate Theatrics: USC's ASHLEY ESKEWCollegiate Theatrics: USC's ASHLEY ESKEW
Posted: Mar. 1, 2016

Critic's Choice: Get Your Halloween Fix at the Theater This WeekendCritic's Choice: Get Your Halloween Fix at the Theater This Weekend
October 27, 2016

Have you decided on your Halloween costume yet? You better get to work since it's only four days until the big night is upon us and you won't want to caught with your pants down, so to speak. May we respectfully suggest a trip to your local, neighborhood theater? Not only will you be entertained, transformed and transported - we're willing to be on this happening - but you'll also probably get some great costume ideas in the process! And there is the added bonus that the theater company might be in the business of renting out costumes which would make your efforts even easier than you first thought
Paula Flautt Directs CPA's MAN WHO CAME TO DINNERPaula Flautt Directs CPA's MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER
October 27, 2016

2015 First Night Honoree Paula Flautt directs the Moss Hart-George S. Kaufman classic comedy, The Man Who Came to Dinner, as Christ Presbyterian Academy's high school theatre stages the show about a critic and raconteur who becomes a surprising houseguest for a small-town Ohio family.
High School Drama: Siegel High's MEGAN SCOTTHigh School Drama: Siegel High's MEGAN SCOTT
October 27, 2016

Today, Megan Scott, one of 2015 First Night Star Award winner Brenda Dent Gregory's talented student sat Murfreesboro's Siegel High School, continues our new season of High School Drama, the latest in a long list of younger actors to be introduced via Broadway World Nashville in the coming year
VUTheatre's A SHAYNA MAIDEL explores impact of Holocaust on familyVUTheatre's A SHAYNA MAIDEL explores impact of Holocaust on family
October 26, 2016

VUTheatre, in partnership with the Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series, presents the emotional drama, A Shayna Maidel, opening November 4at Neely Auditorium on the Nashville campus.
BWW Review: CFTA's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Will Have You Laughing All The Way HomeBWW Review: CFTA's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Will Have You Laughing All The Way Home
October 25, 2016

Patrick Kramer's commanding performance as Frederick Frankenstein (that's 'FRONKENsteen' for the uninitiated) in the Center for the Arts' production of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is reason enough to buy a ticket (if you're lucky enough to score one - shows are playing to capacity crowds in Murfreesboro, so make your reservations yesterday), but director Renee Robinson and musical director Stephen Burnette very adroitly surround him with such strong support that the entire ensemble of Transylvanian thespians is worth the price of admission.
Critics Choice: SOMETHING WICKED, RENT, NOISES OFF and So Much More On Tap This WeekendCritics Choice: SOMETHING WICKED, RENT, NOISES OFF and So Much More On Tap This Weekend
October 20, 2016

Here are our suggestions - our choices, as it were - for the shows to catch, the people to see, before Monday morning rolls around. Again. When work beckons, we promise you'll have so much more interesting water cooler chatter to share that you'll be the envy of everyone at the office:
High School Drama: Hume-Fogg's LINDSEY GEORGEHigh School Drama: Hume-Fogg's LINDSEY GEORGE
October 20, 2016

As the leaves begin to turn and the temperatures start to drop and we see autumn all about us, it signals the frantic period of 2016 when local high schools are busily prepping their fall productions. Nashville's Hume-Fogg Academic High School is one such place, where students - under the direction of 2014 First Night Honoree Daron Bruce and his artistic collaborator Lisa Forbiss - are deep into rehearsals for the first of this academic year's presentations: Big Fish, starring Lindsey George, Jonathan Hankins and Nashville theater legacy Michael Dunaway.
BWW Review: RENT's 20th Anniversary Tour Thrills TPAC Audience on Opening Night in NashvilleBWW Review: RENT's 20th Anniversary Tour Thrills TPAC Audience on Opening Night in Nashville
October 19, 2016

It's hard to believe that Jonathan Larson's epic rock musical masterpiece, Rent, debuted on Broadway, making headlines around the world, winning the Pulitzer Prize and bringing a whole new generation of audiences to the theater 20 years ago. Larson who died just prior to the show's 1996 off-Broadway opening didn't live to see the acclaim with which his musical - based upon Puccini's La Boheme - was greeted, but if we believe in such things, we may rest assured that since his untimely demise he has watched over Rent's evolution, which includes the 20th Anniversary production now touring the country in an astounding revival which reaffirms its place among the very best of American musical theater.
Where Are They Now? BLAIR ALLISONWhere Are They Now? BLAIR ALLISON
October 18, 2016

How does one go about describing Blair Allison? She's funny, irrepressible, charming, talented and kookybeautiful, personable and clever - just to name a few of the Murfreesboro native's most obvious attributes. She's also determined and ambitious, focused and committed and a graduate of Belmont University's widely respected theater program, headed by 2010 First Night Honoree Paul Gatrell.
BWW Review: Nashville Rep's All-Star Cast Shines in NOISES OFFBWW Review: Nashville Rep's All-Star Cast Shines in NOISES OFF
October 17, 2016

There comes a moment in Act Two (or maybe it's Act One - on second thought, maybe it's the second Act One, although it could be the third) of Michael Frayn's Noises Off, now onstage at TPAC's Andrew Johnson Theatre, in which Martha Wilkinson comes onstage, hits her mark, cuts her eyes at another actor and with perfect timing reaches out to touch his arm, her expressive face showing every word the audience needs to hear, eliciting guffaws and applause as her reward.
October 16, 2016

Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic and Old Lace, a genteel and sometimes beguiling 'suspense comedy,' is a favorite among the nation's various and sundry community theater companies. And for good reason: It's slyly amusing, despite its age, and it features some genuinely engaging (if somewhat despicable, depending upon your perspective) characters who have entertained audiences for 75 years (it bowed on Broadway in 1941).
Act Too Pro's WILLY WONKA Opens Tuesday Night at Franklin TheatreAct Too Pro's WILLY WONKA Opens Tuesday Night at Franklin Theatre
October 15, 2016

2013 First Night Honoree Jamey Green leads the cast of Act Too Pro's production of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, opening Tuesday night, October 18, at the historic Franklin Theatre. Running through October 23, Willy Wonka follows the critically acclaimed Act Too Pro debut production of Mary Poppins, which played to capacity crowds in 2015.
BWW Interview: RENT's KATIE LaMARK is 'Living The Dream'BWW Interview: RENT's KATIE LaMARK is 'Living The Dream'
October 12, 2016

It becomes very clear, just moments into a phone conversation with actress Katie LaMark that she's tremendously charming, amazingly sharp and intuitive and, quite frankly, very intelligent and quick-witted. So it comes as absolutely no surprise that the young woman - a Boston native now on the road, playing the role of Maureen in the 20th Anniversary Production of Rent, which makes its way to Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center next week - considers herself to be 'living the dream' as she criss-crosses the United States, bringing Jonathan Larson's character to life in an acclaimed revival.
Collegiate Theatrics: Belmont University's KYLE CARESSCollegiate Theatrics: Belmont University's KYLE CARESS
October 12, 2016

It's only October, but the 2016-17 school year is already off to a frenzied start for Belmont University's Kyle Caress, who this week gets a respite from the halls of academia to spend fall break in New York City with some of his musical theater classmates/comrades/friends, taking in some of the hottest shows on Broadway before returning to Nashville to put the finishing touches on the department's fall musical offering.
Where Are They Now? EMILY FAITHWhere Are They Now? EMILY FAITH
October 12, 2016

Actor, stage manager, teaching artist, blogger, raconteur, Lipscomb University alumna - no matter how you refer to Emily Faith, she remains something of an enigma. No matter how well you think you know her, there's always more to discover, more layers to peel away. To say that Emily Faith is an intriguing individual remains an understatement of the first order: She is a fascinating woman.
October 11, 2016

Make no mistake about it, to know Lauri Gregoire is to love her - just ask the legions of people lucky enough to know her throughout her life, particularly those who have come to know her in the 20-plus years she's lived in Nashville. She's beautiful, to be certain, but perhaps more to the point, she is bright, clever, intelligent, empathetic, kind and committed to her family and friends, her career and business and to living the kind of life that has created a legacy of creativity and art in her adopted hometown.
BWW Review: Pewitt's Star Turn Electrifies Keeton Theatre's ANNIE GET YOUR GUNBWW Review: Pewitt's Star Turn Electrifies Keeton Theatre's ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
October 7, 2016

There's something about Tonya Pewitt, a certain, almost indefinable, something that makes her an ideal musical theater leading lady (perhaps, we admit, that's a dated term in these politically correct times we are, after all, in the 21st century and the election of the first woman president of the United States seems imminent but in regard to Ms. Pewitt, we use the term affectionately, respectfully and even reverently), attributes that she has accumulated, if you will, in a lifetime spent as a fan of classic Broadway and film musicals. She's charming and oh-so-engaging, beautifully alive onstage in a way only great musical theater stars can be when the follow spot hits them upon their first entrance.
Upright Citizens Brigade Plans 4 Shows at TPACUpright Citizens Brigade Plans 4 Shows at TPAC
October 1, 2016

Tomorrow's comedy stars from New York and Los Angeles will be in Nashville in late September as the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company performs four "unpredictable" shows at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center'sAndrew Johnson TheaterSeptember 30 - October 1.
OTHELLO Kicks off 16-17 Season for Vanderbilt University TheatreOTHELLO Kicks off 16-17 Season for Vanderbilt University Theatre
September 30, 2016

Melding Italian Renaissance elements with contemporary street art to signify a 'clash of cultures,' Vanderbilt University Theatre's production ofOthello, one of Shakespeare's most powerful dramas and the first VUT production of the 2016-17 season, opens tonight atNeely Auditorium on the Nashville campus.
ADDAMS FAMILY Opens Tonight at Cumberland County PlayhouseADDAMS FAMILY Opens Tonight at Cumberland County Playhouse
September 30, 2016

Just in time for the Halloween season, Cumberland County Playhouse presents its version of the recent Broadway hitThe Addams Family - starring Playhouse favorite Jason Ross and newcomer Audrey Moore as Gomez and Morticia Addams - onstage in Crossville beginning tonight (Friday,September 30) and running through November 12.



Backstage with Richard Ridge
Back to Falsettoland w/ OBC - Passing the Torch
Backstage Bite
TV Exclusive: BACKSTAGE BITE with AVENUE Q's Elizabeth Ann Berg
Turning the Tables
Randy Rainbow w/ FIDDLER Cast
  Chewing the Scenery with Randy Rainbow
2nd Annual ElphaBall Takes Over Tonight's BROADWAY SESSIONS