Five Questions for FIVE Divas


So far as I can tell, the best way to handle the situation - at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 28, five of Nashville's most critically acclaimed (wink, wink) young divas aka Cori Laemmel, Erin Parker, Laura Matula, Megan Murphy Chambers and Melodie Madden Adams will be performing a cabaret entitled FIVE - is to send five other young divas (I'd suggest sequestering Laura Thomas Sonn, Heather Trabucco, Stacie Riggs, Jennifer Richmond and Erica Haines Cantrell, just off the top of my head) to an undisclosed location - there's got to be a bunker around here somewhere, what with Oak Ridge so close by - just in case someone drops a bomb on Street Theatre Company.

As I see it, someone needs to think ahead and it might as well be me. Otherwise, the whole future of Nashville theater, as we know it, could be in jeopardy. Let's face it, when you have that much talent assembled in one room, the continued success of our theater community could be dependent upon calm and steady planning and forethought. What about the children, I implore you, what about the children?

I admit freely and unreservedly that in my book these FIVE are all enormously talented, unbelievably charming and deliriously beautiful and I am a rabid fan - though not of the stalker variety; I reserve that sort of crazed worship for Daniel Boys, the West End star whom I'm trying to convince to come to Nashville and allow me to make him a star. (Note to self: Refrain from making public declarations of devotion to someone you've never met, save for repeated viewings of BBC America, as it could lead to legal consequences - but if Mr. Boys should read this: Daniel! Call me, mate. Not for nothing is Nashville called "Music City.")

Clearly, though, you get my drift: These young women are supremely talented and local theater folk are fairly adither about their collected performances coming up on Monday (presented by MAS Nashville, the best example of a "Mutual Admiration Society," if ever there was one). Despite all the possible diva-like behavior that you might expect from such an amalgamation of stars, Cori, Erin, Laura, Megan and Melodie are (for the most part) as sweet and gracious as you can imagine, their talent only equaled by their "let's put on a show" professionalism. (Thanks for the muffin basket and the cabana boy, ladies!)

Taking time out from their busy schedules of berating personal assistants, rebuffing advances from randy chorus boys, tweeting what they had for lunch today and throwing cel phones at theater critics, the FIVE took time to answer my "Five Questions for FIVE Divas."

Who gets the best songs?

Cori: For the most part we all picked our own music, so I think each person's songs are perfect for their personality and voice.

Melodie: We all do!

Laura: Well, we will have to wait to see the results of our new state of the art applause-o-meter come Monday night, then I will get back to you on that one.

Megan: Historically, I would say Aretha Franklin.

Erin: Best? Hmm. I like it best when we all get to sing together.

Who gets the biggest dressing room?

Cori: Jef...are you trying to cause trouble?

Melodie: We get a dressing room?

Laura: Megan. One for her and one for her bosom.

Megan: I'm not sure, because Erin told me I'm supposed to get ready in my car.

Erin: If Melodie brings her camper, I guess she will. The rest of us will probably share a bathroom.

Who's the biggest diva among you?

Cori: Elysa Matula (the young daughter of Laura and Anthony Matula).

Melodie: We will actually have pudding wrestling after the show to determine this.

Laura: Cori Laemmel. What a diva! She insists we call her "Coir" at every rehearsal. She also throws fits of rage in which she hurls her glasses across the room when something upsets her. Very difficult to work with. I tell you. D.I.V.A.

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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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