'Homegrown' Nelson and Chadwell Share Their Experience With Students at CCP

June 27
11:04 AM 2012

'Homegrown' Nelson and Chadwell Share Their Experience With Students at CCP

Musical theater and dance join hands again this year at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse as CCP dancer/performers Leila Nelson and Aven Chadwell lead the performance education initiative for the theater's education department. 

Nelson joins returning education director Weslie Webster and professional actor Greg Pendzick as lead teachers in the Triple Threat Summer Camp. Chadwell has returned after training with American Dance Festival, Belmont University and Nashville Ballet to help launch and lead CCP's Fall Dance and Theater Education term in mid-September.

Nelson and Chadwell both "grew up on The Playhouse stage," trained in dance and theater by Eldar and Lilia Valiev, Jim Crabtree, Kiersten Mays, Jeremy Benton,  Weslie Webster, Nicole Begue and Jennifer Austin. Tap, jazz and musical theater dance specialist Nelson is resident choreographer for the theater and director of The Music Man, just opened for an all-summer run as the theater's flagship show.  

Chadwell, who starred as Princess Clara in CCP's Nutcracker opposite Russian soloist Evgueny Tourdiev, brings to the stage and studio exceptional ballet and modern strength, plus cross training and teaching in multiple styles. She continues training with Nashville Ballet and Belmont University.

Nelson joins CCP company members Weslie Webster, Greg Pendzick, Donald Frison, Chaz Sanders and Jensen Crain as instructors for CCP's Triple Threat Summer Camp. For four decades, CCP has trained young performers to appear alongside seasoned professionals-and for some to go on to their own "triple threat" careers, including 2012 guest director and Broadway veteran Jeremy Benton,  now in rehearsal (assisted by Leila Nelson and national tour veteran Britt Hancock) for the Ginger Rogers musical, Backwards in High Heels, which opens July 27.

The 2012-13 Playhouse Performance Education year will begin in mid-September and continue through late April or early May. Finalized schedules will be released later this month, and it is expected that fees and payment policies and performance opportunities will be comparable to the 2011-12 season.

To receive more information, or sign up for the 2012-13 training programs, please call Meka Doxtator Barrier at (931) 484-4324, or email mdoxtator@ccplayhouse.com.


Photo:  Playhouse teacher/performers Aven Chadwell, Leila Nelson and Greg Pendzick in productions of The Nutcracker,  All Shook Up and Brigadoon at CCP. 

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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 - the history of which can be traced to 1989 and the first presentation of The First Night Awards - which honor outstanding theater artisans from Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and also includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors recognition. Midwinter's First Night honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. An accomplished director, Ellis helmed productions of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, all in their Nashville premieres, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show. Ellis was recognized 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 Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, with The Larry Keeton Theatre's production of Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest set for spring 2016.

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