Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner launched Dare, Tennessee's Lesbian and Gay Newsweekly which later became known as Query. Ellis is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theater 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. Since 2015, Ellis has been increasingly in demand as a director by a variety of Tennessee theater companies and he has helmed productions of Picnic (Circle Players), The Last Five Years (VWA Theatricals), The Miss Firecracker Contest, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will?, South Pacific and Winter Wonderettes (The Larry Keeton Theatre) and The Little Foxes (ACT 1). He will be directing the first production of Mart Crowley's updated script for The Boys in the Band since its Broadway revival for his eponymous Jeffrey Ellis Presents... production company. In 2019, Ellis will direct Singin' in the Rain (Arts Center of Cannon County), The Wizard of Oz (The Larry Keeton Theatre) and The Secret Garden (Center for the Arts, Murfreesboro). He is also slated to direct the world premiere production of Chambers Stevens' newest play, Waking Up Naked in 2019.




MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

Photo Coverage: Midwinter's First Night 2019 at The Larry Keeton Theatre in NashvillePhoto Coverage: Midwinter's First Night 2019
Posted: Jan. 18, 2019


THE WOLVES, SWEENEY TODD Win Top Awards at 2019 Midwinter's First NightTHE WOLVES, SWEENEY TODD Win Top First Night Awards
Posted: Jan. 15, 2019


Nashville Theater Scene Heats Up at Midwinter's First Night 2019Nashville Theater Scene Heats Up at Midwinter's First Night 2019
Posted: Jan. 6, 2019


BWW Review: Circle Players' AVENUE Q Ushers in 2019 With Fast-Paced HilarityReview: Circle Players' AVENUE Q Ushers in Hilarious 2019
Posted: Jan. 17, 2019


BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET Heats Up A Cold Winter's Night in Music CityReview: ON YOUR FEET Heats Up A Cold Winter's Night in Music City
Posted: Jan. 16, 2019


BWW Review: Nashville Shakespeare Festival's JULIUS CAESAR Serves Up Political Intrigue at its BestReview: Nashville Shakespeare Festival's JULIUS CAESAR is Political Intrigue at its Best
Posted: Jan. 21, 2019


LAST 365 DAYS

Nashville Theater Family Mourns the Death of Grammy Award-Winner/Broadway Veteran Lari WhiteNashville Theater Family Mourns the Death of Lari White
Posted: Jan. 23, 2018


BWW Review: Spectacular Cast Gives Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIES A Fresh AppealReview: Spectacular Cast Gives Barn's NEWSIES Fresh Appeal
Posted: Sep. 22, 2018


BWW Review: Studio Tenn's New FRANKENSTEIN Is Mesmerizing and StartlingReview: Studio Tenn's Mesmerizing New FRANKENSTEIN
Posted: Sep. 4, 2018


First Night's Top Ten of 2018 Announced in Nashville TonightFirst Night's Top Ten of 2018 Announced in Nashville Tonight
Posted: Dec. 10, 2018


The Man Behind the Mask: Quentin Oliver Lee of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERAThe Man Behind the Mask: THE PHANTOM's Quentin Oliver Lee
Posted: Oct. 19, 2018


BWW Review: Chaffin's Barn Re-opens With Habit-Forming SISTER ACTBWW Review: Chaffin's Barn Re-opens With Habit-Forming SISTER ACT
Posted: Aug. 6, 2018


BAREFOOT IN THE PARK Launches 2019 Season at Cumberland County Playhouse
January 22, 2019

Cumberland County Playhouse - winner of the First Night Award for Outstanding Musical of 2018 for Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - has announced its lineup for the 2019 season.

Kristin McCalley Directs Matyna Majok's IRONBOUND Opening Saturday in Nashville
January 22, 2019

Nashville Story Garden presents the Nashville premiere of Ironbound by Pulitzer Prize winner Matyna Majok January 26-February 2 at the former Inglewood United Methodist Church, 3511 Gallatin Pike, Nashville. Starring Joe Mobley (Vik), Gerald Pitts (Maks), Tamara Todres (Darja) and Ted Welch (Tommy), Ironbound is directed by Kristin McCalley.

Tennessee Playwrights Studio Introduces 2019 Fellows and Associates
January 22, 2019

Tennessee Playwrights Studio, a Nashville-based new-play development lab in partnership with Actors Bridge Ensemble, has announced its fellows and associates for 2019. Five TPS fellows, chosen from a competitive application process, will work under the direction of Kenley Smith to develop new full-length scripts that will be presented in public readings at the Darkhorse Theatre Chapel later this year. Two associates will contribute to monthly workshop sessions in the first year and will become TPS Fellows in 2020. TPS will continue to cast actors from the Nashville community for workshops and readings.

BWW Review: Nashville Shakespeare Festival's JULIUS CAESAR Serves Up Political Intrigue at its Best
January 21, 2019

As the century was about to turn when Shakespeare first unveiled his tragic masterpiece, Julius Caesar - it's believed to have been written around 1599 - political turmoil was afoot in Britain as worries mounted about who would succeed the aging virgin queen on the throne upon her demise. Thus, all the political intrigue and conspiratorial backbiting of Elizabeth I's reign no doubt proved fertile enough to inspire Shakespeare's epic tale of the demise of the Roman leader.

BWW Review: Renee Elise Goldsberry Revives the Spirit in Concerts with The Nashville Symphony
January 19, 2019

Last week, while talking with Tony Award-winning actress/singer/songwriter Renee Elise Goldsberry - during which we discussed her upcoming series of concerts with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra - she responded to my query about how much of 'Renee' is in each of the myriad characters by which she's come to be known and loved by her legions of fans.

Photo Coverage: Midwinter's First Night 2019 at The Larry Keeton Theatre in Nashville
January 18, 2019

Actors Bridge Ensemble's acclaimed production of Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves and Cumberland County Playhouse's rendition of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street were named as the top shows of the year during Midwinter's First Night, the annual tribute to theater in Tennessee, held at Nashville's The Larry Keeton Theatre last Sunday night, January 13. Photographer Rae Lynn Whetzel-Stickney captured many of the night's biggest moments with her camera, which are shared on BroadwayWorld Nashville today.

BWW Review: Circle Players' AVENUE Q Ushers in 2019 With Fast-Paced Hilarity
January 17, 2019

For legions of musical theater fans brought up on daily trips to Sesame Street, thanks to the fine folks at Children's Television Workshop, there is quite possibly no show more beloved than Avenue Q - the grown-up version of the kind of programming directed at children in hopes of helping them navigate the vagaries of childhood and adolescence. To be certain, Avenue Q is not for the easily offended or politically conservative, but the Tony Award-winning best musical of the 2004 Broadway season is an ideal outing for anyone with a highly developed sense of humor and a fondness for pushing the envelope, musical theatre-wise.

Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry Performs With The Nashville Symphony This Weekend
January 17, 2019

No matter the role for which you may best remember Renee Elise Goldsberry - whether it's her Tony Award winning turn as Hamilton's Angelica Schuyler, The Good Wife's assistant state's attorney Geneva Pine, One Life to Live's Evangeline Williamson, Altered Carbon's Quellcrist Falconer on Netflix, or the title character in HBO's acclaimed film adaptation of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - you may be certain they all come from within the heart and soul of the multi-talented actress/singer/songwriter who makes her first appearance with the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra, beginning tonight for a three-performance run through Saturday, January 19 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET Heats Up A Cold Winter's Night in Music City
January 16, 2019

Looking for the perfect way to ward off winter's chill on a particularly cold and damp Nashville night? Then take our word for it: There's no better way than by immersing oneself in On Your Feet: The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical, now onstage at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall through Sunday, January 20.

THE WOLVES, SWEENEY TODD Win Top Awards at 2019 Midwinter's First Night
January 15, 2019

Actors Bridge Ensemble's critically acclaimed production of Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves and Cumberland County Playhouse's stunning mounting of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street were named as the top shows of the year during Midwinter's First Night, the annual tribute to theater in Tennessee, held at Nashville's The Larry Keeton Theatre Sunday night, January 13.

BWW Review: Pipeline Collective's WELLESLEY GIRL Offers a Provocative View of the Future
January 11, 2019

Times are tough in the 25th century, judging from the world on view in Brendan Pelsue's Wellesley Girl, now onstage at the Belmont Little Theatre in a superbly acted and staged production from Pipeline-Collective. While our imaginations of how the 25th century will actually play out - what with various incarnations of that time period, as represented by the science-fictional universe of the myriad Star Trek iterations - Pelsue's interpretation, informed by the current political climate of the 21st century, offers a far more dystopian vision, but it's one which will hit close to home for every audience member left in thrall by the performances of director David Ian Lee's exceptional ensemble of actors.

Nashville Theater Scene Heats Up at Midwinter's First Night 2019
January 6, 2019

Performances from productions of director Brian Jones' Avenue Q, for Nashville's Circle Players - Middle Tennessee's oldest community theater organization - and Center for the Arts' Newsies, directed by 2019 Theaterati of the Year nominee Mark David Williams, are among highlights of next Sunday's Midwinter's First Night - Celebrating 30 Years in Nashville.

BWW Review: PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL: A PIRATE'S CHRISTMAS Brings Panto Tradition to Music City
December 17, 2018

Audiences have until next Sunday - December 23, to be precise - to experience what is likely to become a Music City holiday tradition: Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirate's Christmas at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theatre. A somewhat Americanized version of a peculiarly British seasonal entertainment, aka "panto," Peter Pan and Tinker Bell is a winning blend of theater, Christmas pageant, vaudeville and British music hall all rolled into one bright, shiny, kind of weird, but altogether fun and rather unique holiday-themed package that's a welcome addition to yuletide revelry.

BWW Review: Studio Tenn's Holiday Season Offering of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
December 14, 2018

Before Broadway comes calling for Hatty Ryan King, the young Nashville actress with an enviable resume (the Lipscomb University sophomore is a Spotlight Award winner, was a finalist for The Jimmy Award, has worked with theater companies both community-oriented and professional and has proven herself a capable leading player along the way), you might want to get your tickets to see her onstage in Studio Tenn's ambitious, if woefully uneven, holiday season offering of Beauty and The Beast. In a role that could have been written for her, King shines as Belle, the ambitious and eager to learn and to embrace change young woman who is the heroine of the musical which features a score by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and a book by Linda Woolverton.

BWW Review: Cumberland County Playhouse Sends SANDERS FAMILY Off With Heartfelt Emotion
December 13, 2018

Growing up in a small Southern town with fewer than 1,000 people, the prevalent thoughts tend to be centered on how to get out of that stifling, archly conservative community, in order to search for the proverbial greener pastures and to find like-minded people who will make you feel more "at home" with yourself and in your own skin. While that may well be the honest-to-God true story of my youth, nonetheless it always startles me when my emotions are stirred up by a stage musical set in the years long before my birth, with a show that fairly reverberates with the heart and soul, memories and nostalgia usually associated with a trip back home.

BWW Review: Rice and Sochocki Serve Up Some Holiday Laughs in A TUNA CHRISTMAS
December 13, 2018

You'd be hard pressed to find a seasonal outing quite so much fun, a Christmas party more tantalizingly outrageous or performances more outlandish than in A Tuna Christmas, the holiday-themed comedy that features the denizens of Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas, in all their Lone Star State finery, searching for a missing husband, attempting to ferret out "the Christmas Phantom" and hoping for that perfect photograph for next year's greeting cards.

First Night's Top Ten of 2018 Announced in Nashville Tonight
December 10, 2018

In anticipation of the gala 30th anniversary celebration of The First Night Awards, Tennessee's best and brightest in live theater were revealed tonight as First Night's Top Ten of 2018 - reviewer and critic Jeffrey Ellis' annual recognition for theater in the Volunteer State - were announced during a Facebook Live presentation from Nashville.

SAVE THE DATE: Nashville Theater Calendar for December 10, 2018
December 10, 2018

Looking ahead, you'll find a number of new productions on tap for your entertainment pleasure, including a number of holiday season offerings to put you in the Christmas spirit, thanks to the efforts of theater companies all over Middle Tennessee. Here's our calendar for December 3, 2018, to help you plot your course through the first few weeks of 2019...

High School Drama: Lipscomb Academy's ADDISON McFARLIN and KELLER MONTGOMERY
December 6, 2018

Like every high school senior before, Lipscomb Academy's Addison McFarlin and Keller Montgomery are trying to store away as many memories as possible during their final year of high school, while maintaining their GPAs, going to class and being a part of campus life. But Addison and Keller are actors, so their schedules are even fuller, particularly this week as they find themselves in the middle to Tech Week for Lipscomb Academy's fall musical Big Fish, directed by Kari Smith.

BWW Review: After 10 Years, Nashville Ballet's NASHVILLE'S NUTCRACKER Dazzles and Delights
December 4, 2018

As difficult as it may be to comprehend, Nashville's Nutcracker - Paul Vasterling's beautiful and evocative holiday gift to his adopted hometown - first debuted in 2008 and its return in 2018 only enhances the already stellar reputation of Nashville Ballet as the city's leading arts entity and adds more luster to the glittering resume of its artistic director, who this season celebrates his 20th anniversary leading the company.



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