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Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Theatre Picks - Nashville!

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According to the weather forecasters, it's going to be a long, hot summer in Tennessee and if you're looking to cool off at the theatre, you could probably use some help in making good choices, right?

Here are our top five picks for the theater offerings that are sure to satisfy your hankering for good entertainment...ranging from the revival of a comedy hit from Street Theatre Company's 2009 season, new takes on two classic Broadway musicals, the 25th annual Shakespeare in the Park presentation of the internationally known Nashville Shakespeare Festival and the Broadway-bound debut of a new musical comedy based on a classic film comedy, directed by legendary funny man Jerry Lewis and featuring the music of Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics of Rupert Holmes...

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Parallel Lives @ Street Theatre Company, 1933 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville / Shows: Tuesdays, May 22-July 3 at 8 p.m. / With boundless humor, Parallel Lives reexamines the ongoing quest to find parity and love in a contest handicapped by capricious gods-or in this case, goddesses. Starring STC artistic director Cathy Street and Holly Allen (who just completed her stellar turn in Pride's Crossing for Lipscomb University Theatre, returning to their critically acclaimed 2009 roles, directed by Lauren Shouse (who will be leaving Nashville shortly to begin her studies at Northwestern University). For tickets and other information, go to  www.streettheatrecompany.org.

Fiddler on the Roof @ Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre, 8204 Hwy 100, Nashville / Shows: Thursday through Sunday, May 31-July 8; Buffet opens at 6 p.m., curtain at 8 p.m. / Nine-time First Night Award-winner Martha Wilkinson directs as Derek Whittaker stars as Tevye in the musical theatre classic that features such memorable songs as “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Tradition.” And who can pass up that buffet that's fairly laden with all sorts of Southern delicacies? For details, go to www.dinnertheatre.com

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The Music Man @ Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville / June 22-September 1, days and curtain times vary / Professor Harold Hill (portrayed by CCP/national tour favorite/BWW Nashville Award winner Britt Hancock) brings his trademark musical schtick (“Seventy-six Trombones,” “Trouble,” “’Til There Was You” and “Goodnight, My Someone” are just a handful of the score’s most enduring songs) to River City, Iowa, in a shiny and sparkling new revival at Tennessee’s favorite family theatre. To make reservations and to find out more, go to www.ccplayhouse.com.

Much Ado About Nothing @ Centennial Park Bandshell, the 25th annual presentation of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival / Shows are Thursday through Sunday evenings, August 16-September 16, including a show on Labor Day Monday, September 3; pre-show entertainment starts at 6:30 p.m., with curtain at 7:30 p.m, suggested donation $10.  / Nashville Shakespeare Festival artistic director Denice Hicks directs this adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, setting it during World War II and featuring music of that era. Her cast includes Evelyn Brush, Martha Wilkinson, Jeff Boyet and more of Nashville's favorite performers. Questions? Go to www.nashvilleshakes.com.

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The Nutty Professor, A New Musical @ Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theatre, 505 Deaderick Street, Nashville / July 24-August 12 / days and curtain times vary / Michael Andrew stars as the geeky, goofy scientist Julius F. Kelp in the pre-Broadway run of the new musical that features music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Rupert Holmes and will be directed by the legendary Jerry Lewis, who takes on the musical treatment of his classic 1963 film comedy. For further details about showtimes and tickets, go to www.tpac.org. 

Pictured (at top) Cathy Street and Holly Allen; (middle) Britt Hancock

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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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