BWW Interviews: The Nutty Professor's AUTUMN GUZZARDI Takes On THE NUTTY FIVE

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Opening night of The Nutty Professor Musical, which started previews at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theatre last Tuesday, is only a couple of days away and-judging from the reactions of people who have already seen the show-Jerry Lewis and company have a hit on their hands. We'll let you know Wednesday, after we've had a chance to see the show on opening night (Tuesday, July 31) and have written our review.

To say that anticipation is at a fevered pitch in Music City USA is a definite understatement, and for the next few weeks, at least, we'll be known as Musical City USA, as Tennessee's capital city goes all Nutty this summer in anticipation of sending a great big ol' hit to Broadway.

Since early July, Nashville has been fairly teeming with all manner of creative and talented folks who've made the trip to town in order to bring The Nutty Professor Musical to life. Directed by Jerry Lewis, who is justifiably known as "the king of comedy," the new musical features a book by three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes and music and lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch (who has a Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Pulitzer on the shelf at home). The production also boasts a stellar creative team that includes choreographer JoAnn Hunter (who got her start at Nashville's iconic Opryland USA), scenic designer David Gallo (who won the Tony for The Drowsy Chaperone), costume designer Ann Hould-Ward (Tony-winner for Beauty and the Beast) and music director Todd Ellison (who's contributed his talents to several Broadway hits).

To be certain, The Nutty Professor Musical has a stellar pedigree-and we haven't even started talking about the cast yet which includes Michael Andrew, Marissa McGowan, KLea Blackhurst, Mark Jacoby and Jamie Ross. And then there's the ensemble, which is made up of some excessively good-looking and exceedingly talented folks-many of who have already made their mark on Broadway, while others are still seeking that brass ring.

Quite frankly, we think they are all future Tony Award winners, so when the company first arrived in the Volunteer State, we inaugurated our column-The Nutty Five-which has focused on all those creative and charming people who are bringing the show to life for TPAC audiences. Articulate and entertaining in their responses to our questions, they've all been open and honest, and so damn charming they're sure to win you over!

In an ensemble filled with triple threats, Atlanta native Autumn Guzzardi is sure to claim her moment in the spotlight, plus she's a brand-new Nashvillian, moving here recently to make our fair city her homebase. We're thrilled she's here and we think your should get to know her, so that when she's waiting for a table at a local restaurant or trying to figure out where the hell Old Hickory Boulevard really is taking her, you'll know who you're talking to…

So be friendly and welcome her to Music City when you bump into her-she's making Nashville just a little more glamorous and talented every single day. And don't forget to make your reservations to see The Nutty Professor Musical before its Nashville run end on August 19.

Read on, gentle theaterati, and get to know The Nutty Professor's Gail, the ultra-talented Autumn Guzzardi




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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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