Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater

Photo-Coverage-The-First-Night-Robe-Continues-Its-Journey-Through-Nashville-Theater-20000101

On September 2, 2012-during the presentation of The First Night Honors-a new Nashville and Tennessee theater tradition was unveiled with the presentation of the First Night Robe. Fashioned after and inspired by the legendary Broadway Gypsy Robe, the First Night counterpart is presented to someone who is Making Their first appearance on a Nashville-area stage.

The robe, designed and built by Laura Spencer Higgins and Cat Arnold, is royal blue lined with pale silver and accented with gold brocade trim. It represents the history of theater in the Volunteer State and the continuing sense of community and tradition that reverberates throughout Tennessee every time an actor steps upon the stage.

Broadway veteran Bailey Hanks (Legally Blonde), who made her Nashville stage debut at The First Night Honors, was the first recipient (subsequently, she was presented with the robe again on opening night of 9 to 5: The Musical at the Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville), followed by Taylor Tracey, who made her Nashville debut playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at the Larry Keeton Theatre.

Justin Boccitto, who plays Ken in Blackbird Theatre's production of Red, was the next recipient, receiving the robe on opening night of the show at Lipscomb University's Shamblin Theatre. Paul J. Cook, playing Leo Frank at Boiler Room Theatre, accepted the robe on the second night of Parade, while Enoch Porch and Kevin J. Thornton, creators of Into the Darkness: A Vampire Musical, shared the First Night Robe on their very own First Night at Chaffin's Backstage at the Barn.

photos by Johnny Benton/Studio Benton Photography; Rick Malkin; Faith Kelm; Anthony Just; and Amanda Lamb


Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Hugh Britt, Cary Street, Bailey Hanks and Angela Gimlin

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Jeffrey Ellis, Enoch Porch and Kevin J. Thornton

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Justin Boccitto autographs The First Night Robe

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Ronnie Meek, Jeffrey Ellis and Jusin Boccitto

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Paul Cook reads the autographs on the First Night Robe

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Sondra Morton, Paul Cook and Jeffrey Ellis

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Kate Adams, Jeffrey Ellis and Taylor Tracey

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Jeffrey Ellis, Paul Cook and Sondra Morton

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Jeffrey Ellis and Bailey Hanks

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Cary Street, Bailey Hanks and Angela Gimlin

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Hugh Britt, Cary Street, Bailey Hanks, Angela Gimlin and Jennifer Richmond

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Hugh Britt, Bailey Hanks, Jennifer Richmond and Angela Gimlin

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater
Bailey Hanks

Photo Coverage: The First Night Robe Continues Its Journey Through Nashville Theater

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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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