MUSIC CITY CONFIDENTIAL #7: All the News from Onstage, Offstage, Backstage and Beyond

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With the Olympics wrapping up in London this weekend, attention is refocused on theater and the accompanying drama of same, here in Music City and the rest of the state of Tennessee. While we've dreamed of putting a nose clip on the schnozz and taking to the pool in search of our very own gold medal in synchronized swimming, our collective mind has been wandering to other events and celebrations that are closer to home (although we should point out that we turned down an invitation to accompany a friend to London for an opening, in order that we could keep you abreast of the hijinks of the local theaterati) and here we are yet again, writing another Music City Confidential!

Apparently, it is Elvis Week in Nashville (at least according to the fine folks at Loveless Café), so before we head out to the theater for a full weekend of show openings and the like, a trip to West Nashville for a slice of the Loveless' Elvis pie is in order (for the uninitiated, that's peanut butter, banana, bacon and homemade whipped cream-the four basic food groups, according to The King.), so before we slip into a diabetic coma, here's installment #7 of Music City Confidential, all the news that's fit to print from onstage, offstage, backstage and beyond…

Circle Players' Aida opens out at The Larry Keeton Theatre tonight, as Ralph Gabriel directs a cast headed by LaToya Gardner in the title role, 2012 First Night Most Promising Actor Kevin Mead as Radames and Lisa Graham is Amneris. The show runs Friday, August 10, through Saturday, August 25, at The Larry Keeton Theatre on 108 Donelson Pike. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Two dozen local performers, some of whom are new to Circle Players, will sing, act and dance in this show which is rarely performed in Middle Tennessee. The company also will strive to make the dances as ethnically and historically accurate as possible in relation to ancient Egypt. The cast will perform songs such as "Easy as Life," "Every Story is a Love Story" and "Written in the Stars," which became a pop chart hit when the cast recording was released in 2000. Tickets can be purchased online at www.circleplayers.net or by phone (615) 332-7529. Individual tickets will also be on sale at the box office at the Keeton Theatre one hour before each performance.

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At Dickson's Renaissance Center, Thornton Wilder's Our Town premieres tonight as The Renaissance Players' 2012 season continues. Directed by Nancy Nave, the cast features Quinn Gorte as Emily and 2012 First Night Most Promising Actor Zane Jordan as George, and a veritable cast of thousands portray the citizens of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, in this revival of one of American theater's most classic works. The Renaissance Players production of Our Town runs August 10 through August 19, with performances every Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The production will also include a display of photographs presented in the Rotunda of The Renaissance Center, courtesy of the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum, that depict life in Dickson County during the time of the Our Town story, from the turn of the century through the theatrical opening in 1938.

On the other end of the spectrum, down in Woodbury audiences will be transported to the 1980s as the Arts Center of Cannon County debuts Xanadu, the now-classic musical that features the songs from the campy movie that starred Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly! Maggie Richardson and Cody Rutledge head the cast of director Darryl Deason's production. An '80s jukebox musical complete with roller skates and a mirror ball-and no, it's not like the movie, it's actually really good, really! Don't miss a campy story of an artist, Sonny, that has lost all inspiration and thus the muse, Kira comes to help him and inspires him to open...a roller disco! , but her evil sisters, Melpomene and Calliope, plan on putting a curse on her and Sonny to make Kira fall in love with Sonny, which is forbidden from Zeus himself. The show features Michael McGee, Gerald Melto, Kerri Karidolf, Abbey Kairdolf, Drew Jenkins, Caleb Marshall and Scarlett Turney. Go to www.artscenterofcc.com or call (800) 235-9073 for tickets.




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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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