Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW

Photo_Coverage_First_Night_Honors_THE_SHOW_20000101

 

While its running time - over four hours - was long by anyone's standards, ask audience members at last week's First Night Nashville Theatre Honors about the show itself and you'd get rave reviews. A cast of more than 125 performers took to the stage of the Troutt Theatre at Belmont University to fete the eight members of the 2010 Class of First Night Honorees in a production that featured the best of the best of Nashville theater and included a surprise appearance by Joseph Mahowald, winner of a 1989 First Night Award, now playing the role of Franklin Hart Jr. in the national tour of 9 to 5: The Musical, which opened in Nashville at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, September 21.

The honorees - who included Scot Copeland, producing artistic director of Nashville Children's Theatre; Paul Gatrell, chair of the department of theatre and dance at Belmont University; Kathleen O'Brien, president and CEO of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center; A. Sean and Robert A. O'Connell, co-founders of ACT 1 and GroundWorks Theatre; Mac Pirkle, founder of Southern Stage Productions and co-founder of Tennessee Repertory Theatre; actor/director/producer Barry Scott, theater faculty member at Tennessee State University; and stage manager Shannon Wood, co-founder and owner of Darkhorse Theater - had been spotlighted earlier in the week on Monday, September 13 at the First Night Symposium and were presented their First Night medals on Thursday, September 16, during the Honorees' Dinner, held at Germantown Cafe, and hosted by First Night founder and executive producer Jeffrey Ellis, who covers Nashville and Tennessee theater for BroadwayWorld.com.

Under the direction of Jane Kelley Watt, the First Night Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment for the Sunday, September 19, gala at the Troutt Theatre, which began with the Macy's Red Carpet Event, hosted by Trey Palmer and Jennifer Richmond, with fashion commentary provided by Richard Browder and Cary Street. First Night audience members also took part in a Silent Auction, chaired by Scott Logsdon, Aurora Daniels and Andie Sanders, in the lower lobby of the Troutt Theatre prior to curtain.

Presenters for the evening includEd Matthew Carlton, Vali Forrister, MeLinda Bates, Megan Murphy Chambers, Jack Chambers, Eric Pasto-Crosby, Rene Dunshee Copeland, JoAnn Coleman, Johnny Peppers, Brittany Byrd, Brenda Sparks, L.B. Gaiters, Cinda McCain, Matt Logan, Jake Speck, Christi Dortch, Denice Hicks and David Compton.

The show's program featured an opening number from the Boiler Room Theatre's casts of Rent and Nine; Street Theatre Company's cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre's cast of Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming; Dance Theatre of Tennessee's performance of their original work, Swimming the Cumberland; and scenes from Rhubard Theatre's Potty Talk; Amun Ra Theatre's Waiting for Godot; ACT 1's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf; David Lipscomb University's Doubt; Actors' Bridge Ensemble's All My Sons and Vincent in Brixton; Nashville Shakespeare Festival's Love's Labor's Lost; Sista Style's Fly Girl; and Metro Parks' Theater Department's Signs of a New Day: The Z. Alexander Looby Story.

Among vocalists in the spotlight were Laura Thomas Sonn, Holly Shepherd, Martha Wilkinson, Joshua Waldrep, Darin Richardson, Yvonne Smith, Tyson Laemmel, Rona Carter, Bakari Jamal King, JoAnn Coleman, Benjamin Van Diepen, Tim Fudge, Shelean Newman, Garris Wimmer, Jenny Norris-Light, Linda Sue Simmons-Runyeon, Ann Street-Kavanaugh, Kelvin Amburgey and Carolyn German.

The show's finale featured an all-star chorus of Nashville stage stars performing "Sunday" from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George and local favorites Laura Thomas Sonn and Cori Laemmel singing "For Good" from Wicked.

Photographs from First Night are courtesy of Trish Crist, Fran Bell Cole, Rick Malkin, Jennifer Richmond, Stacy Battles and Tracey Barnes Hughes.

Portrait of the First Night Honorees by artist Matt Logan.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
The cast of Boiler Room Theatre's RENT performs "Season of Love" to open the show.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Laura Thomas Sonn and Cori Laemmel close the show with "For Good."

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Wesley Paine, Robyn Berg, Trish Crist, Katie Veglio and Lisa Marie Wright on the Red Carpet.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Playwrights Trish Crist and Nate Eppler on the First Night Red Carpet.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Playing By Air and Tyson Laemmel perform "Any Dream Will Do" in tribute to Scot Copeland.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Dance Theatre of Tennessee's Swimming the Cumberland.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Signs of a New Day: The Z. Alexander Looby Story

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
The show's finale: "Sunday"

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
The show's finale: "Sunday"

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Swimming the Cumberland

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Swimming the Cumberland

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Swimming the Cumberland

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Lisa Marie Wright, Jervon Dailey, Megan Murphy Chambers and Wesley Paine in Potty Talk.

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Martha Wilkinson sings "Defying Gravity."

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Street Theatre Company's "Magic Foot"

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Jake Speck and Matt Logan

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Jack Chambers and Megan Murphy Chambers

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Joel Diggs and David Chattam in Waiting for Godot

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
The casts of Fly, Girl and Potty Talk pay tribute to Shannon Wood

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Bakari Jamal King sings "Free at Last" in tribute to Barry Scott

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Ed Amatrudo and Melissa Hade perform a scene from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in honor of Sean and Bob O'Connell

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Alicia Haymer and Nan Gurley in a scene from Doubt

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Cinda McCain

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Denice Hicks

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Kay Ayers and the cast of Nine

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Oscar-nominated sound designer Peter Kurland, with his wife, First Night honoree Shannon Wood

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Kelvin Amburgey, as ZaZa in La Cage Aux Folles, sings "I Am What I Am"

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW
Swimming the Cumberland

Photo Coverage: First Night Nashville Theatre Honors, THE SHOW

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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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