Musical Legacy of Garland and Rooney Spotlighted in BABES IN HOLLYWOOD at Gaslight Theatre

February 6
6:35 PM 2012


Dickson's Gaslight Dinner Theatre kicks off 2012 by bringing Hollywood and Broadway legends Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney to life via the musical revue Babes in Hollywood: The Music of Garland and Rooney, February 14-March 10.

The musical review was created by David Grapes (the former artistic director of Tennessee Repertory Theatre), with musical arrangements and medleys by Andrew Philip Herron, and traces the careers of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney from early on, as the two made their way to Hollywood and became America's Sweethearts, through their sensational careers both in Hollywood and on Broadway.

Babes in Hollywood is a celebration of the enormous talents and colorful lives of the legendary entertainers, presented by a team of four multi-talented actors. The show features musical numbers of the most popular and memorable songs associated with Garland and Rooney, including "Over the Rainbow," "You Made me Love You," "Easter Parade," "But Not for Me," "The Man Who Got Away," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "That's Entertainment," "Where or When," "Born in a Trunk," "Yankee Doodle Boy," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Strike up the Band."

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney first appeared together in 1937's Thoroughbreds Don't Cry. The film wasn't a big hit but the Garland-Rooney duo became a sensation and they teamed up again in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). They eventually starred in nine films together, including several more Andy Hardy films, plus the blockbusters Babes in Arms (1939), Strike up the Band (1940), Babes on Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943).

Garland's best remembered film is The Wizard of Oz, which has been seen by more people than any other film ever made. That year, 1939, Garland reputedly received more fan mail than any star at MGM, she was on the box office top ten actors/actresses list, and had two films in the top ten: The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms.

Mickey Rooney was the number one box office actor in the United States from 1939-41. He became known for his work on films such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Boys Town, Babes In Arms and the hit "Andy Hardy" series. In 1983, he received an honorary Academy Award in recognition of his long career.

The Gaslight production of Babes in Hollywood is directed by Pacer Harp, the theatre and artistic director at The Renaissance Center, who has acted in and/or directed over 50 productions at the center. The Dickson resident also performs regularly for field trip students in the Michael Faraday Science Theatre at The Renaissance Center. Harp was last seen in the Gaslight production of Mitch Albom's Duck Hunter Shoots Angel this past December and he will direct or act in several upcoming Gaslight Dinner Theatre productions in 2012, including Red, White and Tuna, part of the popular Greater Tuna trilogy, The Church Basement Ladies, and This Wonderful Life, a one-man stage reading of the iconic holiday movie It's A Wonderful Life, in which he'll play all of the roles, including George, Clarence the angel, Mr. Potter and Mary.

The cast of Babes in Hollywood includes perennial favorites Nathan W. Brown and Bryan J. Wlas, (both Dickson residents) who also direct theatre productions at the center and teach in the drama, music and dance departments, and Hannah McGinley (A Christmas Carol) and Michelle Valenti (Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, A Year with Frog and Toad), both of whom have recently performed in productions at The Renaissance Center. All four performers dance, sing and act in this rollicking musical that takes audiences on a magical journey from the sound stages of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway.

Brown and Wlas will co-direct the upcoming production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast for Young Entertainers on Stage (Y.E.S), part of the Renaissance Players Community Theatre. The two will also be Musical Director and Choreographer for the production, which runs March 23-April 1.

Technical and lighting director for Babes in Hollywood is Nathan Ray, with costumes by Rachel Gallup, both of whom will provide their talents and expertise for the Y.E.S. production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Performances of Babes in Hollywood include Friday and Saturday evening shows (dinner at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.) and Tuesday and Thursday Matinee performances (lunch at 12 noon and show at 1 p.m.) as well as a special Valentine's Day Dinner and Show on Tuesday, February 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are: $37 for the full dinner and show evening performance and $27 for lunch and show matinees. Tickets for the Valentine's Day Dinner and Show are $50 a person and include a special dinner with salad and dessert, chocolates and a rose, and the show. For tickets, call (615) 740-5600, (615) 740-5572 or toll-free: (888) 700-2300. Tickets are also available online: 

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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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