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 25 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. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, and in 2016, he directed Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest  and the Kander and Ebb classic Cabaret for The Larry Keeton Theatre. He will direct My Fair Lady for The Keeton in 2017, followed by Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will?South Pacific and Winter Wonderettes. He will direct Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes for ACT 1's 2017-18 season.




MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

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


BWW Review: NEWSIES Makes Headlines for Start of Circle Players' 69th SeasonReview: NEWSIES Makes Headlines for Circle Players' 69th Season
Posted: Aug. 17, 2018


BWW Review: Metzler's CRY IT OUT Engagingly Traverses the Many Challenges of MotherhoodReview: Metzler's CRY IT OUT Engagingly Traverses the Many Challenges of Motherhood
Posted: Aug. 15, 2018


BWW Review: CFTA Sells All The Tickets for Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIASReview: CFTA Sells All The Tickets for Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
Posted: Aug. 16, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Fogelberg Score Soars in PART OF THE PLAN at TPACReview: Fogelberg Score Soars in PART OF THE PLAN
Posted: Sep. 11, 2017


First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in NashvilleFirst Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Posted: Dec. 29, 2017


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


PART OF THE PLAN: Why A New Dan Fogelberg Musical Has Its Roots Firmly Planted in Music CityPART OF THE PLAN: New Dan Fogelberg Musical Has Its Roots in Music City
Posted: Sep. 4, 2017


BWW Review: Belmont University Musical Theatre's Remarkably Robust FIDDLER ON THE ROOFReview: BUMT's Remarkably Robust FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Posted: Nov. 12, 2017


McGEE MADDOX On His Starring Role in AN AMERICAN IN PARISMcGEE MADDOX On His Starring Role in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Posted: Oct. 30, 2017


BWW Review: NEWSIES Makes Headlines for Start of Circle Players' 69th SeasonBWW Review: NEWSIES Makes Headlines for Start of Circle Players' 69th Season
August 17, 2018

High-spirited, energetic and enormously entertaining, Circle Players' Newsies is a certified hit - thanks in large part to the focused direction of Jim Manning, the athletic and challenging choreography of Tosha Pendergrast and the superb musical direction of DaJuana Hammonds - performed by an impressive cadre of actors young and old, a blend of familiar faces and Nashville stage newcomers, who infuse the show with all the spunk necessary to bring the turn-of-the-century newsboys and a smattering of historic figures to life.

BWW Review: CFTA Sells All The Tickets for Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIASBWW Review: CFTA Sells All The Tickets for Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
August 16, 2018

There's probably no title in the contemporary theater repertoire guaranteed to spark more debate than Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias. Particularly among southern companies, Harling's story of six women who gather every Saturday morning in a small-town Louisiana beauty shop has legions of fans who clamor for more revivals of the oft-produced comedy-drama - yet there are just as many detractors who decry its seeming omnipresence among season's offerings from far too many organizations.

BWW Review: Metzler's CRY IT OUT Engagingly Traverses the Many Challenges of MotherhoodBWW Review: Metzler's CRY IT OUT Engagingly Traverses the Many Challenges of Motherhood
August 15, 2018

Sharply written dialogue and an engaging story as relevant as any you are likely to see onstage nowadays are the hallmarks of Molly Smith Metzler's Cry It Out, now onstage through August 18 at Nashville's Darkhorse Theater in a superbly acted production from SistaStyle Productions and Three in a Tree Productions.

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

Nashville's iconic Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre is back and better than ever! After some six months - and 50 or more years since its debut - the newly renovated and gorgeously appointed Chaffin's Barn has reopened with a rousing production of Sister Act, the habit-forming musical that played to sold-out audiences last summer.

BWW Review: Arts Center of Cannon County's GREASE is Fun, But Out of Step With The TimesBWW Review: Arts Center of Cannon County's GREASE is Fun, But Out of Step With The Times
July 13, 2018

It's fun, perhaps even joyful, and audiences are clearly delighted to reward director Matthew Hayes Hunter's youthful cast with riotous applause at the appropriate moments, but do they really endorse the message of the timeworn Jacobs and Casey script? Heck, do they even think about it?

BWW Review: Adam Szymkowicz's MARIAN, OR THE TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD is Truly LegendaryBWW Review: Adam Szymkowicz's MARIAN, OR THE TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD is Truly Legendary
July 5, 2018

The legend of Robin Hood is subject to personal interpretation and, given the times in which we now live, it only makes sense that playwright Adam Szymkowicz would devise his own treatment of the legend in ways both provocative and traditional. In Marian, Or The True Tale of Robin Hood, Szymkowicz posits that both Robin, the personification of the anti-hero, and his supposed love, Maid Marian are indeed the same person, devoted not only to taking from the aristocracy to provide for the peasantry, but also to foment ideas of class and gender equality at a time when such thought was considered heretical.

BWW Review: Keenan-Zelt's TRUTH/DARE Gives Four Young Actors A Chance to ShineBWW Review: Keenan-Zelt's TRUTH/DARE Gives Four Young Actors A Chance to Shine
July 3, 2018

Playwright Tori Keenan-Zelt's emergence as a force in contemporary theater seems assured with her newest play, Truth/Dare, an incisive, on-target treatment of the pitfalls of adolescence and the frailty of relationships during a time in which everything seems in a constant state of flux. Directed by recent Lipscomb University graduate Natalie Risk, who gives Truth/Dare an immersive feel with her basement rec room set that involves audiences in every moment during the convincingly nuanced one act that's brought to life by a quartet of young actors who play off one another with self-assured candor.

BWW Review: LOVE NEVER DIES Closes Out TPAC's 2017-18 SeasonBWW Review: LOVE NEVER DIES Closes Out TPAC's 2017-18 Season
June 20, 2018

We cannot help but wonder: Do peacock feathers foretell of something far more sinister and portentousthan what we've seen already in both Love Never Dies and The Phantom of the Opera await our heroine in the moments to follow? We won't spoil the outcome for you, of course, but suffice it to say that those pesky peacock feathers continue to work their devilment in the intriguing production now onstage at Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center through Sunday, June 24.

BWW Review: Murfreesboro's Best Ever? THE LITTLE MERMAID Stakes A Claim for the TitleBWW Review: Murfreesboro's Best Ever? THE LITTLE MERMAID Stakes A Claim for the Title
June 20, 2018

There's absolutely no need to equivocate, make comparisons or to otherwise water down this particularly judgmental opinion: The Little Mermaid - the stage version of the Disney musical about a gamine sea creature who longs to become human which is now onstage at Murfreesboro's Center for the Arts through June 24 - is the best show we've ever seen among the many CFTA productions reviewed over the years. Congratulations to direct Mark David Williams, musical director Nate Paul, choreographer Brittany Griffin and costumer Lisa McLaurin for their remarkable achievements that, combined, lift this oft-produced title from the stage-bound to far loftier heights of theater excellence.

BWW Review: Noah Rice-led ANNIE Brings Spirit to The Keeton's Summer ShowBWW Review: Noah Rice-led ANNIE Brings Spirit to The Keeton's Summer Show
June 19, 2018

Annie, the Broadway musical by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, is something of a community theater warhorse - a show that is sure to bring in throngs of theater-goers despite the oftentimes scornful dismay of the theaterati - along the same lines as Steel Magnolias, Grease and, well, you catch my drift. There's nothing epoch-shattering, paradigm-shifting or cutting edge about Annie (or any of the other shows of its ilk), but in a Nashville theater season during which we've seen laudable revivals of those other two shows, it only seems logical that a new production of Annie could be equally as entertaining and a welcome diversion.

BWW Review: Radical Arts' BARE Features Strong Performances from Rising ActorsBWW Review: Radical Arts' BARE Features Strong Performances from Rising Actors
June 14, 2018

Without a doubt, an individual's teenage years can be fraught with tension and riddled with despair and even when that is leavened by the joy of self-discovery and the constant gaining of knowledge that accompanies adolescence, there's a steep learning curve that some are unable to embrace gracefully. All of that is apparent in bare, a pop opera, the almost completely sung-through "rock musical" currently onstage at Nashville's Music Valley Event Center in a production from director Seth Limbaugh's Radical Arts.

BWW Review: Verge Theater Company Inaugurates The Barbershop Theatre With Wondrous KIMBERLY AKIMBOBWW Review: Verge Theater Company Inaugurates The Barbershop Theatre With Wondrous KIMBERLY AKIMBO
June 10, 2018

Verge Theater Company continuesits trajectory as one of Nashville's leading and most adventurous theater companies with its wondrousproduction of David Lindsay-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo,featuring an astonishing and electrifyingfive-person cast under the superb direction of Laramie Hearn. Kimberly and her eccentric familyhelpthe companyinaugurate its own performance space, aka The Barbershop Theatre, located at 4003 Indiana Avenue, just a short jaunt from Charlotte Avenue and not too far from the iconic Darkhorse Theater.

BWW Review: Circle Players' Closes its 17-18 Season With BEAUTY AND THE BEASTBWW Review: Circle Players' Closes its 17-18 Season With BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
June 9, 2018

Now onstage at the Z. Alexander Looby Theatre as the concluding production of Circle Players' 2017-18 season, Disney's Beauty and the Beast is brought to life by an eager-to-please cast and crew, giving further proof to the universality of the story and the continued delight of audiences lucky enough to score tickets (Circle Players' production has been playing to near-capacity, often sold-out, audiences in its three-week run at the Looby).

BWW Review: Street Theater Company's Ultra-Cool, Ultra-Insider(y) Take on [title of show]BWW Review: Street Theater Company's Ultra-Cool, Ultra-Insider(y) Take on [title of show]
June 8, 2018

Why am I writing about my obvious journalistic shortcomings now for what could be construed for the third time? Street Theatre Company's production of the Hunter Bell-Jeff Bowen musical [title of show] opens tonight to run through June 23 - and last night I was part of the preview audience, having been invited to come review the show for those of you still reading (all the while scoffing at my apparent self-indulgence and wishing I would just get to the point).

BWW Review: WAITRESS Captures The Heart of Nashville During TPAC RunBWW Review: WAITRESS Captures The Heart of Nashville During TPAC Run
June 7, 2018

There comes a moment late in act two of Waitress, the Jessie Nelson-Sara Bareilles musical now onstage at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall, when Desi Oakley - the actress portraying Jenna Hunterson, the show's very pregnant heroine - finds herself bathed in the bright glow of a spotlight and she delivers the show's stirring and emotionally driven climax: a performance of Bareilles' plaintive pop ballad "She Used to Be Mine," arguably the score's best-known and most beloved song.

BWW Review: Verge Theater's THE FLICK Best of 2018 to DateBWW Review: Verge Theater's THE FLICK Best of 2018 to Date
June 5, 2018

At first blush, it would be easy to say that there's not much action packed into Annie Baker's The Flick - now onstage in a noteworthy production from Nashville's Verge Theater Company at Belmont's Black Box Theater - but that is, in fact, a pretty simplistic take on a story that is as complex and as diverting as real life itself. And just like life, Baker's Pulitzer Prize-winning script packs a whole lot of drama into its storyline, which is brought to life by a superb cast of actors under the direction of Jaclyn Jutting.

BWW Review: Young, DeGarmo and Doolittle Star in Studio Tenn's Stylish Revival of GREASEBWW Review: Young, DeGarmo and Doolittle Star in Studio Tenn's Stylish Revival of GREASE
June 1, 2018

Grease has been a part of the American musical theater vernacular for so long - it opened in Chicago some 47 years ago in the halcyon days of 1971 - that it's easy to overlook the show's impact on theater, in general, and audiences, in particular. Its multiple revivals on Broadway, in regional theater and in various community theater and high school drama settings probably makes you believe you've seen in far more often than you actually have (unless, of course, you watch the film treatment with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John over and over).

Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young Take On Iconic Roles in Studio Tenn's GREASEDiana DeGarmo, Ace Young Take On Iconic Roles in Studio Tenn's GREASE
May 10, 2018

American Idol finalists - and real-life husband and wife - Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo will star as Danny and Sandy this spring as Studio Tenn's production of Grease hits the stage at Jamison Theater at the Factory at Franklin for a May 10-27 run.

INGRAM NEW WORKS FESTIVAL: Natalie Risk Interviews Nate Eppler About THIS RED PLANETINGRAM NEW WORKS FESTIVAL: Natalie Risk Interviews Nate Eppler About THIS RED PLANET
May 9, 2018

Nashville Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Festival - Nashville's annual celebration of new plays and playwrights - returns to Music City May 9-19. The festival gives local audiences an opportunity to hear fresh work created by exciting new voices, while making new friends while connecting via new works for the theater.

INGRAM NEW WORKS FESTIVAL: Natalie Risk Interviews Cristina Florencia CastroINGRAM NEW WORKS FESTIVAL: Natalie Risk Interviews Cristina Florencia Castro
May 8, 2018

Nashville Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Festival -- Nashville's annual celebration of new plays and playwrights - returns to Music City May 9-19. The festival gives local audiences an opportunity to hear fresh work created by exciting new voices, while making new friends while connecting via new works for the theater.



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