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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. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre 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, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.
MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess DarnellHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess Darnell
Posted: Dec. 11, 2014


Collegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan of Wright State UniversityCollegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan
Posted: Dec. 2, 2014


HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Karissa WheelerHigh School Drama: Karissa Wheeler
Posted: Dec. 4, 2014


BWW Reviews: Studio Tenn's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFEStudio Tenn's It's A Wonderful Life
Posted: Dec. 5, 2014


HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Shawn Sookram Has His Moment in the SpotlightHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Shawn Sookram
Posted: Nov. 26, 2014


COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Lipscomb University's Tyler RussellCollegiate Theatrics: Tyler Russell
Posted: Dec. 9, 2014


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chambers Stevens Checks InWHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chambers Stevens Checks In
Posted: Dec. 18, 2014


LAST 365 DAYS

HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess DarnellHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess Darnell
Posted: Dec. 11, 2014


Collegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan of Wright State UniversityCollegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan
Posted: Dec. 2, 2014


HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Harley Seger of Christ Presbyterian AcademyHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: CPA's Harley Seger
Posted: Nov. 20, 2014


HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Karissa WheelerHigh School Drama: Karissa Wheeler
Posted: Dec. 4, 2014


BWW Reviews: Studio Tenn's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFEStudio Tenn's It's A Wonderful Life
Posted: Dec. 5, 2014


BWW Reviews: Ryan Bowie Dazzles in HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCHBWW Reviews: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at The Roxy
Posted: Nov. 11, 2014


HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Shawn Sookram Has His Moment in the SpotlightHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Shawn Sookram
Posted: Nov. 26, 2014


THE FRIDAY FIVE: JJ Rodgers from Actors Point's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFETHE FRIDAY FIVE: JJ Rodgers from Actors Point's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
December 19, 2014

This week's spotlight focuses on JJ Rodgers, one of Music City's finest actresses, who opened this week in Hendersonville's Actors Point Theater Company's holiday season offering of It's A Wonderful Life, A Live Radio Play, directed by 2014 First Night Star Award winner Greg Wilson.
HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Kaila WootenHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Kaila Wooten
December 18, 2014

Our series continues this week with our first home-schooled actor, the lovely and talented Kaila Wooten, an amazingly talented and remarkably poised teenager who has been on stages throughout Middle Tennessee for much of her life and in 2013 was named a First Night Honors Most Promising Actor.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chambers Stevens Checks InWHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chambers Stevens Checks In
December 18, 2014

Today's spotlight falls upon Chambers Stevens, who defines the word "multi-hyphenate." (Seriously, look in a dictionary-they still make dictionaries, don't they?-and you'll find his headshot next to the word.) He is an actor-director-playwright-acting coach-producer-consultant-husband-and-father. And in 2012, he was recognized as a First Night Honoree for the role he has played in the development of theater in Tennessee.
COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: NYU's Delaney AmatrudoCOLLEGIATE THEATRICS: NYU's Delaney Amatrudo
December 16, 2014

One needn't be clairvoyant to sense that Delaney Amatrudo is destined for stardom; that's been evident, at the very least, since she was a middle schooler. For Nashville area audiences who have been lucky enough to see her live and onstage, it's very obvious that she possesses that ethereal quality which makes her stand out in any crowd, that is especially noticeable when she is onstage, and which burns brightly regardless of the situation.
NASHVILLE THEATER 101: Two Johns and a GermanNASHVILLE THEATER 101: Two Johns and a German
December 15, 2014

Why do you do theater? We've been putting that question to members of the Nashville theater famiy for the past month to find out what it is that motivates creative types to pursue an illusory and challenging career, while for others the theater gives them a creative avocation that helps keep them sane. Today, in our latest installment of Nashville Theater 101, we introduce three more members of our wildly divergent, almost prototypically dysfunctional theater family: John Silvestro, Carolyn German and John Mauldin-or as we like to call them, "Two Johns and a German."
THE FRIDAY FIVE: Playwright/director Myra Stephens of BEING EBENEZERTHE FRIDAY FIVE: Playwright/director Myra Stephens of BEING EBENEZER
December 12, 2014

Myra Stephens has had a busy week, as is wont to happen when tech week descends upon a production, so she can be forgiven for not completely understanding the five questions that comprise our Friday Five, a regular feature designed to introduce members of Tennessee's theater community to the world at-large.
HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess DarnellHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: MBA's Jess Darnell
December 11, 2014

The talent pool is deep here, a fact exemplified by today's young actor featured in HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Jess Darnell, an 18-year-old senior at Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, who graduates next spring after already amassing an impressive theatrical resume.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Lindy & Greg PendzickWHERE ARE THEY NOW? Lindy & Greg Pendzick
December 10, 2014

Lindy Pendzick and Greg Pendzick, who were resident company members at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse from 2010-13, are now co-cruise directors and headlining performers on the American Empress riverboat with the American Queen Riverboat Company.
COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Lipscomb University's Tyler RussellCOLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Lipscomb University's Tyler Russell
December 9, 2014

Among the leading students in the Fernandez and Baker-led Lipscomb theater program is Tyler Russell, a native of Vancouver, Washington, who has made an impact on local stages, starring as Marius in Lipscomb University Theatre's acclaimed production of Les Miserables in Fall 2013 and as Tony in the company's 2014 fall musical West Side Story.
BWW Reviews: Renaissance Players' IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMASBWW Reviews: Renaissance Players' IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS
December 8, 2014

While the Renaissance Players' mounting might be a little rough around the edges, there's still plenty to recommend the show if you're in need of some Christmas cheer. Directed by Jon Kopischke, with choreography by Alaina Deaver and musical direction by SharonTaylor, Irving Berlin's White Christmas features Jarrod Clark, Zane Jordan, Amanda Mollehour and Tawny Frey as the leading quartet of showbiz types (along with the showstopping Linda Sue Runyeon, who delivers some of the night's best moments) who breathe life into the libretto.
Celebrating Christmas Onstage: What's Your Favorite Show?Celebrating Christmas Onstage: What's Your Favorite Show?
December 8, 2014

Inspired by all the seasonal festivities that abound, we asked people in the theater community to share their favorite things to see onstage during the run-up to Christmas
NASHVILLE THEATER 101: Patrick James, April Hardcastle-Miles & Matthew Hayes HunterNASHVILLE THEATER 101: Patrick James, April Hardcastle-Miles & Matthew Hayes Hunter
December 8, 2014

Today, in our third installment of Nashville Theater 101, we introduce you to three more members of the Nashville theater family: Patrick James, April Hardcastle-Miles and Matthew Hayes Hunter. Our questions are fairly basic and to the point: Why do you do theater? And why do you choose Nashville, perhaps best known as the home of country music, as your home base?
BWW Reviews: The Gaslight's TWO GUYS & A CHRISTMAS TREEBWW Reviews: The Gaslight's TWO GUYS & A CHRISTMAS TREE
December 5, 2014

Two Guys and a Christmas Tree brings the holiday season to Dickson in the persons of Nick Fair, Michael J. Parker, Marilyn Whitehead Fair and Jenny Norris-Light, a quartet of capable actors and wonderful singers who provide a soundtrack for your seasonal celebrations in a sprightly holiday diversion directed by Greg Frey.
BWW Reviews: Studio Tenn's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFEBWW Reviews: Studio Tenn's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
December 5, 2014

Finding it difficult to get into the holiday spirit? Studio Tenn has the perfect antidote to the grey, cloudy and wet days of early December in Nashville: It's A Wonderful Life-the company's production of the stage adaptation of the iconic holiday film. If it doesn't put you in the right frame of mind, then we suspect nothing will.
THE FRIDAY FIVE: Gina D'Arco's Wonderful LifeTHE FRIDAY FIVE: Gina D'Arco's Wonderful Life
December 5, 2014

As time-and the fates-would have it, Gina D'Arco is back again! With today's feature, if memory serves, Gina is the first performer to do two Friday Fives for us. Have her answers changed? Just as her life has changed, so has her perspective, so of course you're going to learn something new about the young woman who opens tonight as Mary Hatch Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, Springhouse Theatre Company's holiday season offering, running December 5-14.
HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Karissa WheelerHIGH SCHOOL DRAMA: Hume-Fogg's Karissa Wheeler
December 4, 2014

Charming and exuberant, Karissa is doing the whole senior year experience to the hilt, leading her classmates in their final year at one of the nation's leading high schools, and somehow finding time to pursue her passion of theater.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Mark DelabarreWHERE ARE THEY NOW? Mark Delabarre
December 3, 2014

More importantly, perhaps, since I know where the bodies are buried-both literally and figuratively-I am provided a unique perspective on the personalities that have shaped theater in Tennessee for at least the past 30 years (I was five years old when I started in this gig). Today you will be introduced to one of the finest actors to ever walk onto a Tennessee stage via our brand new feature seriesWHERE ARE THEY NOW? Our first subject is Mark Delabarre, who who spoke with us from his home in New York City.
Collegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan of Wright State UniversityCollegiate Theatrics: Emma Jordan of Wright State University
December 2, 2014

Emma Jordan has been fated to live a life onstage. Growing up in her hometown of Dickson, she was acting on stages throughout Middle Tennessee, starring in shows at the Renaissance Center and appearing onstage at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theater. Now a senior at Ohio's Wright State University in Dayton, where she's studying musical theater, Emma has her sights set on graduation next spring and an acting career thereafter.
NASHVILLE THEATER 101: Tonya Pewitt, Shawn Whitsell & Denice HicksNASHVILLE THEATER 101: Tonya Pewitt, Shawn Whitsell & Denice Hicks
December 1, 2014

Today, in our second installment of Nashville Theater 101, in which we introduce members of the Nashville theater family to the larger theatrical world: Tonya Pewitt, Shawn Whitsell and Denice Hicks.
BWW Previews: Cumberland County Playhouse Celebrates 50th Anniversary with 2015 SeasonBWW Previews: Cumberland County Playhouse Celebrates 50th Anniversary with 2015 Season
November 26, 2014

First Night Award winning playwrights Dietz Osborne and Nate Eppler's Southern Fried Funeral will be featured among productions celebrating the Golden Anniversary of Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse in 2015.


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