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: Murfreesboro's Best Ever? THE LITTLE MERMAID Stakes A Claim for the TitleReview: Murfreesboro's Best Ever? THE LITTLE MERMAID
Posted: Jun. 20, 2018


BWW Review: Noah Rice-led ANNIE Brings Spirit to The Keeton's Summer ShowReview: Rice-led ANNIE Brings Spirit to The Keeton
Posted: Jun. 19, 2018


BWW Review: Young, DeGarmo and Doolittle Star in Studio Tenn's Stylish Revival of GREASEReview: Studio Tenn's Stylish Revival of GREASE
Posted: Jun. 1, 2018


BWW Review: WAITRESS Captures The Heart of Nashville During TPAC RunReview: WAITRESS Captures Nashville's Heart at TPAC
Posted: Jun. 7, 2018


BWW Review: Verge Theater Company Inaugurates The Barbershop Theatre With Wondrous KIMBERLY AKIMBOReview: Verge Theater Inaugurates The Barbershop with KIMBERLY AKIMBO
Posted: Jun. 10, 2018


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


High School Drama: Cookeville High Grad EMMA CHOATEHigh School Drama: Cookeville High Grad EMMA CHOATE
Posted: Jul. 18, 2017


BWW Review: Nolan Makes Impressive Nashville Children's Theatre Debut With THE HUNDRED DRESSESReview: Nolan Makes Impressive NCT Debut With THE HUNDRED DRESSES
Posted: Sep. 15, 2017


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.

BWW Review: CoPlayers Theatre Hits One Out of the Park With YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWNBWW Review: CoPlayers Theatre Hits One Out of the Park With YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN
April 10, 2018

Filled to overflowing with youthful energy and plenty of showbiz razzle-dazzle, CoPlayers Theatre's production of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown - directed and choreographed by the peripatetic Tosha Pendergrast, easily the busiest musical theater choreographer in Middle Tennessee - does what so many other renditions of the show have failed to do over the years: Thoroughly entertain me! And, in so doing, Pendergrast and her ensemble of impressive young actors have erased from my preferred Charlie Brown vocabulary such words as boring, vapid and stultifying, instead replacing them with electrifying, engaging and fun (which normally should be written in all caps and followed by a surfeit of exclamation marks)!

AVENUE Q To Kick Off Nashville Repertory Theatre's 2018-19 SeasonAVENUE Q To Kick Off Nashville Repertory Theatre's 2018-19 Season
April 10, 2018

Nashville Repertory Theatre will open its 2018-19 season - its 33rd - with a production of the Broadway hit musical Avenue Q, opening on September 8 at the Andrew Johnson Theatre at Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

BWW Review: Ludwig's SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD Takes TCT Audiences Back to 1934BWW Review: Ludwig's SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD Takes TCT Audiences Back to 1934
April 9, 2018

Now onstage at Brentwood's Towne Centre Theatre, Ludwig's Shakespeare in Hollywood (not to be confused with the musical Shakespeare in Love, which is based on an Oscar-winning film) once again takes audiences to 1934 to tell the story of the mirthful hijinks surrounding Austrian stage director Max Reinhardt's efforts to film an adaptation of his Hollywood Bowl production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Reinhardt's film treatment of the work is, perhaps, more critically acclaimed now than when it was first released back during the heady days of Hollywood's golden era and the director has been lauded with praise for his one and only film that starred several silver screen legends in roles that went creatively against type, presenting the actors with tremendous challenges.

Distraction Theatre Company's Third Season Kicks Off with a New Show at a New VenueDistraction Theatre Company's Third Season Kicks Off with a New Show at a New Venue
April 4, 2018

Distraction Theatre Company inaugurates its third season with a third play from The Reduced Shakespeare Company - The Complete World of Sports (abridged) - taking on the complete world of sports and announcing a new collaboration with another non-traditional venue partner for the production. The latest show from Distraction runs April 20-28.

SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD Opens at Towne Centre Theatre Friday 4/6SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD Opens at Towne Centre Theatre Friday 4/6
April 4, 2018

The year is 1934 and Shakespeare's most famous fairies, Oberon and Puck, have magically materialized on the Warner Bros. lot as director Max Reinhardt stages his film adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, resulting in what is described as a "hilarious comic romp" - Shakespeare in Hollywood - from playwright Ken Ludwig.

Shute-Pettaway, Wilds Head Cast of ACT 1's Upcoming Production of THE LITTLE FOXESShute-Pettaway, Wilds Head Cast of ACT 1's Upcoming Production of THE LITTLE FOXES
April 3, 2018

Helen Olaketi Mariah Shute-Pettaway, a 2011 First Night Honoree and one of Nashville's most revered actresses, will take on the iconic role of Regina Giddens in the ACT 1 production of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. Directed by 2014 First Night Honoree Jeffrey Ellis, senior contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com, The Little Foxes runs at Darkhorse Theatre May 4-19.

BWW Review: Magical, Memorable WICKED Flies Into TPAC's Jackson Hall for 4-Week Nashville RunBWW Review: Magical, Memorable WICKED Flies Into TPAC's Jackson Hall for 4-Week Nashville Run
April 2, 2018

No matter how many times you see Wicked, no matter how many actresses defy gravity to soar as Elphaba or how numerous the renditions of 'Popular' you may hear Galinda sing, make absolutely no mistake about it: Wicked is a musical theater masterpiece. Winnie Holzman's engaging book (based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, which was in turn inspired by the original L. Frank Baum story about the wonderful wizard of Oz) and Stephen Schwartz's memorable score ensure that for generations to come, audiences will continue to be dazzled and delighted, thrilled and moved by the story of two very different individuals who become lifelong friends, proving that no obstacles in life are insurmountable.



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