STAGE TUBE: First Night: Honors Gala highlights

September 10
7:00 PM 2011


With almost 150 performers taking to the stage of Belmont University's Troutt Theatre on Sunday night, September 4, members of the theater community throughout Tennessee joined together to fete the six members of the 2011 Class of First Night Honorees.

Two-time First Night Award winner David Compton was the evening's host, which featured tributes to each of the six honorees -- Pam Atha, Dan Brewer, Gary C. Hoff, Danny Proctor, Layne Sasser and Helen Shute-Pettaway -- with "mini-musicals" and dramatic/comedic scenes designed to spotlight their lifetimes of achievements and accomplishments.

Kicking off with "Another Op'nin', Another Show," performed by headliner Corrie Miller and a cast of 24 singers and dancers, the evening's program of entertainment featured a plethora of Tennessee stage stars taking the stage throughout the night, including: Tonya Pewitt, Stephanie Jones-Benton, Laura Matula, Tamiko Robinson, Jenny Norris-Light, Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva, Jennifer Richmond, Trey Palmer, Trish Crist, Rachel Agee, Michael Kitts, Ben Gregory, Daniel W. Black, Greg Pendzick, Lindy Pendzick, JoAnn Coleman, Leila Nelson, Ali Gritz, Kandace Williams, Bonnie Keen, Nancy Allen, Matt Baugher and Ginger Newman, along with the cast of 13 the Musical (from Circle Players) led by Delaney Amatrudo, Christian Albright-Redden and Zuri Lyles, and The Renaissance Players' production of Hello, Dolly! featuring Marilyn Fair, Linda Sue Simmons Runyeon, Bryan J. Wlas and Nathan W. Brown.

Members of the 2011 Class of Most Promising Actors -- Erik J. Christensen, Devin Clevenger, Elliott Cunningham, Thomas Harton, Casey Hebbel, Tyler Henry, Faith Kelm, MaryKathryn Kopp, Hannah McGinley, Maggie McNulty, Evan Montgomery, Lindsay Phillpott, Austin Price, Brandy Rogers, Chaz Sanders and Christy White -- performed a medley of "Our Time" from Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along and Jason Robert Brown's "A New World" from Songs for a New World.

Presenters included Melissa Hade, Tim Holder, Molly Breen Shawn Whitsell, Lisa Marie Wright, Lucy Turner, Amanda Card-McCoy, Jamie Farmer, Nate Eppler, Dietz Osborne, Kelvin Amurgey, Billy Ditty, Brooke Bryant and Ann Street-Kavanaugh.

STAGE TUBE: First Night: Honors Gala highlights
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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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