BWW Interviews: Backwards in High Heels' DOUGLAS WATERBURY-TIEMAN Takes on The Friday Five...on Wednesday!


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 on stages in the Volunteer State. Yes, I'm well aware that the calendar says today is Wednesday, but there's a method to my madness: Opening Friday night at Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville is Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Rogers Musical which stars today's Friday Fiver-Douglas Waterbury-Tieman-in the pivotal role of Fred Astaire!

So excited am I about the opening of the show (what can I say? I'm a huge Ginger Rogers fan!) that I just can't wait to introduce you to the show's stars-and I suspect you'll be so enraptured by them once you read their interviews that you'll want to make reservations to catch them recreate some of those magical, enchanting dance routines that have inspired millions of fans to trip the light fantastic and embark on any number of flights of fancy.

Directed and choreographed by Jeremy Benton, the show is an evocative look back at the career, life and loves of Rogers and all the people, famous and otherwise, who were part of her story. Waterbury-Tieman is cast opposite another multi-talented triple threat, Jessica Wockenfuss (whom you will meet tomorrow when we offer up another installment of The Friday Five on Thursday) who plays the show's titular lead, Ginger Rogers. Weslie Webster is cast as her mother, Lela, with Playhouse favorites Britt Hancock, Jason Ross, Daniel Black, Austin Price and John Dobbratz among the other ensemble members. Ron Murphy conducts the orchestra.


Douglas, who makes his CCP debut in Backwards in High Heels, won the coveted role of Fred Astaire during an audition at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. The Lexington, Kentucky, native met Playhouse producing artistic director Jim Crabtree at the audition and no doubt made quite the impression on the theater veteran with one simple declarative sentence: "I tap dance and I play the fiddle." Hence, he'll follow up his Backwards in High Heels performance by joining the cast of A Sanders Family Christmas later in the season.

Working with Benton, who originated the role in the musical's world premiere at Florida Stage in West Palm Beach, Waterbury-Tieman says, has been "a fantastic experience," crediting Benton's vision for the piece with making it such an extraordinary first project at Cumberland County Playhouse.

Waterbury-Tieman is familiar to Nashville audiences for his recent appearances in Studio Tenn Theatre Company's productions of The Sound of Music (he played Rolf) and Guys and Dolls (in which he played a crap-shooting denizen of Broadway). A recent graduate of Belmont University's acclaimed music theatre program, he was last seen in BUMT's spring musical Hairspray (playing Wilbur Turnblad) after having performed in Anything Goes and The Drowsy Chaperone.

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? My first onstage experience was in fourth grade at Squires Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.  My music teacher, Mrs. Susan Owens, cast me as Scrooge in an abridged theatrical rendition of A Christmas Carol.  I will never forget the thrill of all those "Bah-Humbugs" and the subsequent audience chuckles.

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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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