First Night's Class of 2012 Honorees Will Be Revealed at Preview Party on 7/23

First Night's Class of 2012 Honorees Will Be Revealed at Preview Party on 7/23

Members of the 2012 First Night Honors' Class of Honorees will be revealed to the public Monday night, July 23, during the First Night Preview Party, which will be held at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, 8204 Highway 100 in Nashville.

The eight members of the 2012 Class of Honorees are among the best-known, most beloved and widely respected people in their field of artistic endeavor and include artistic directors, choreographers, producers, actors, playwrights and directors. They will be honored with tribute performances during the 2012 First Night Honors Gala to be held Sunday, September 2, at The Troutt Theatre at Belmont University.

In 2010, The First Night Honors were revived as an updated version of The First Night Awards (which were presented from 1989-1996 by executive producer/founder Jeffrey Ellis) and among the first year's class were Paul Gatrell, Mac Pirkle, Scot Copeland, A. Sean and Robert A. O'Connell, Shannon Wood, Kathleen O'Brien and Barry Scott. The 2011 Class of Honorees included Helen Shute-Pettaway, Danny Proctor, Layne Sasser, Dan Brewer, Gary Hoff and Pam Atha.

First Night Week (August 25-September 2) is the biggest series of events to celebrate live theater in the Volunteer State and is followed up in January with the presentation of the Nashville and Tennessee Theatre Awards and First Night's Top Ten of 2012. Other First Night events are held throughout the year and in 2012, another First Night tradition from years past will be revived in November 2012 and February 2013. Those plans will be revealed at the September 2 Gala.

Monday night's preview party-in addition to the announcement of the 2012 Honorees-will include the announcement of the nine men who will receive this year's First Night Star Awards, the second annual presentation of the special award that recognizes up-and-coming members of the theatrical elite in Nashville. Last year's presentation of the First Night Star Awards focused the spotlight on eight women in the Nashville theater community including Denice Hicks, Melissa Bedinger Hade, Mary McCallum, Vali Forrister, Kate Adams, Trish Crist, Maryanna Clarke and Cathy Street.

In addition, the young actors being honored as Most Promising Actors will be revealed at Monday night's Preview Party (scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chaffin's Barn) and they will be featured in a very special performance during the First Night Gala.

The Preview Party is hosted by Janie and John Chaffin, owners of Nashville's venerable Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, who will provide an hors d'oeuvres buffet and a cash bar for the event. Entertainment for the party will include a performance from Stones River Theatre Company's upcoming Jekyll & Hyde in Concert and a musical number by the cast of Roxy Regional Theatre's current revival of Happy Days The Musical.

Other plans for Monday night includes the announcement of events scheduled from August 25 through September 2 in celebration of live theater in Tennessee, including staged readings, concerts and parties planned for First Night 2012.

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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 outstanding 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. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, with The Larry Keeton Theatre's production of The Miss Firecracker Contest set for spring 2016.


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