BWW INTERVIEWS: The Leads of CPA's CAROUSEL Take On The Friday Five On Thursday!


Inspired by's Friday Six, welcome to's latest installment of The Friday Five: five questions designed to help you learn more about the talented people you'll find onstage throughout the Volunteer state. We realize it's Thursday, but we have a very good reason for shifting the date for this particular edition.

Today, the spotlight falls upon Gabrielle Toldeo, Meg Perdue and Patrick Eytchison, a trio of particularly talented young actors who tonight will open in Carousel at Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy. Under the direction of the acclaimed Paula Y. Flautt, who has instructed, influenced, directed and mentored CPA students for the past 20 years, tonight's performance comes on the 67th anniversary of the beloved musical's opening night on Broadway!

Meg Perdue, the senior who appears as Julie Jordan, was named to the All-Star Cast at the TTA Conference in October 2010, when she appeared as Cherry in Flautt's award-winning one-act adaptation of The Outsiders. Her roles at CPA include Penny Sycamore in You Can't Take it with You, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, a torch-singing version of Feste in Twelfth Night, and Jack's Mother in Into the Woods (the Tennessee Thespian Conference Main Stage selection in January 2009) and Miss Hannigan in Annie. At Bravo Creative Arts Center in Franklin, Perdue played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and Sandy in Grease.

Seniors Patrick Eytchison (Billy Bigelow) and Gabrielle Toledo (Carrie Pipperidge) also bring a lot of stage experience, particularly in musical theatre. Eytchison has appeared at CPA as Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, Martin Vanderhof in You Can't Take It with You, Darry in The Outsiders and Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night; with the Star Bright Players in Franklin, he has played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Tony Brockhurst in The Boy Friend, Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, The Minstrel in Once Upon a Mattress, as well as featured roles in Oklahoma! Snoopy, Annie Get Your Gun, Music Man, Meet Me in St. Louis and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

At CPA, Toledo has played Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Alice Sycamore in You Can't Take It with You, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, as well as supporting roles in Hello Dolly!, Much Ado About Nothing and Into the Woods. Eytchison and Toledo were chosen to perform selections on the Main Stage at this year's Tennessee Thespian Conference.

Find out what makes Gabrielle Toledo, Meg Perdue and Patrick Eytchison tick-what keeps them going show after show, role after role-in today's special Thursday installment of The Friday Five and then get yourself to Christ Presbyterian Academy this weekend for a very special performance of Carousel



Gabrielle Toledo (playing Carrie Pipperidge in CPA's Carousel)

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? One of the first times that I truly felt the electric "alive" feeling of being on stage was my sophomore year when I was Tinker Bell in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. I had felt that electricity before, but Tinker Bell was my first lead role and for the first time, I felt like, for just a moment, I could hold the whole audience captive. It was in a word, "magical."

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Oh wow, there are so many! However, almost every show my best friend, Meg Perdue, who will be starring as Julie in Carousel, and I and whoever else wants to, will take each other hand in hand and dance to the beginning music of the musical or whatever music there is, maybe even without any music. It always makes us so happy and reminds us of our mutual love for the theatre and the arts. 

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Well, I have fortunately not had very many of these moments! However I did have a moment a little like this this past fall semester when we were putting on You Can't Take It with You. Production week snuck up on all of us, and the whole cast seemed to be falling apart. We were all so frustrated and there was yelling, anger and tension, and I truly thought someone was going to quit. Then opening night came around and something happened. We pulled together, pressed on, and the show was better than it had ever been. It was like magic. Everyone set aside their issues and they acted better than I had ever seen them act.

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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.

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