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: Magical, Memorable WICKED Flies Into TPAC's Jackson Hall for 4-Week Nashville RunReview: Magical, Memorable WICKED Flies Into TPAC
Posted: Apr. 2, 2018


BWW Review: CoPlayers Theatre Hits One Out of the Park With YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWNReview: CoPlayers Theatre Hits One Out of the Park With CHARLIE BROWN
Posted: Apr. 10, 2018


BWW Review: Nashville Rep's Timely - and Timeless - Take on INHERIT THE WINDReview: Nashville Rep's Timely Take on INHERIT THE WIND
Posted: Mar. 30, 2018


Actors Bridge, Belmont University Theatre Celebrate 11th Collaboration With MEN ON BOATSActors Bridge, Belmont University Theatre Celebrate 11th Collaboration
Posted: Apr. 2, 2018


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


Shute-Pettaway, Wilds Head Cast of ACT 1's Upcoming Production of THE LITTLE FOXESShute-Pettaway, Wilds Head Cast of THE LITTLE FOXES
Posted: Apr. 3, 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: 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.

Actors Bridge, Belmont University Theatre Celebrate 11th Collaboration With MEN ON BOATSActors Bridge, Belmont University Theatre Celebrate 11th Collaboration With MEN ON BOATS
April 2, 2018

Leah Lowe directs Jaclyn Backhaus' Men on Boats as Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance celebrate their 11th annual collaborative production with the Nashville premiere, running April 13-15 and April 19-22 at the Belmont Black Box Theater.

Lipscomb University Theatre Unveils 2018-19 Season with TARTUFFE, GODSPELL and moreLipscomb University Theatre Unveils 2018-19 Season with TARTUFFE, GODSPELL and more
April 2, 2018

Lipscomb University Theatre has only just announced its 2018-19 season and Beki Baker, chair of the Lipscomb University theatre department, says student response already has shown an overwhelming amount of excitement.

BWW Review: Nashville Rep's Timely - and Timeless - Take on INHERIT THE WINDBWW Review: Nashville Rep's Timely - and Timeless - Take on INHERIT THE WIND
March 30, 2018

Theater's power to illuminate and to elucidate even while offering diverting entertainment has perhaps never been felt so strongly as in Nashville Repertory Theatre's engaging version of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, now onstage at TPAC's Andrew Johnson Theatre through April 25.

BWW Review: Circle Players' 2017-18 Season Continues With STEEL MAGNOLIASBWW Review: Circle Players' 2017-18 Season Continues With STEEL MAGNOLIAS
March 29, 2018

We Southerners take our literary history seriously, whether it's a book, a poem, a novel or a play - no matter the genre, we are proud to read about our way of life and the things that we believe make us so very special. Such is the case with Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, which debuted in 1987 to near unanimous acclaim only to gain in popularity and adulation in the intervening three decades. Whether it's a feature film, a made-for-TV movie or live onstage, Harling's tale of six Louisiana women and their shared experiences captured in a series of snapshots from their lives is beloved and somewhat revered.

BWW Review: Starmaking Performances Lead Belmont University's Exhilarating ON THE TOWNBWW Review: Starmaking Performances Lead Belmont University's Exhilarating ON THE TOWN
March 21, 2018

There's really nothing better than a musical theater-inspired epiphany: On opening night of Belmont University Musical Theatre's altogether invigorating and exhilarating On The Town (which plays Belmont's Troutt Theatre through this Sunday, March 25) I was struck by the similarities - both structurally and musically - to the Gershwin masterpiece An American in Paris.

Students from 26 Tennessee Schools Compete for 2018 Spotlight AwardsStudents from 26 Tennessee Schools Compete for 2018 Spotlight Awards
March 16, 2018

Talented students from 26 Tennessee high schools will seize the opportunity to improve their skills - and perhaps to be recognized for their theatrical and musical talent - as part of the fifth annual Nashville High School Musical Theater Awards, aka The Spotlight Awards.

Studio Tenn's 2018-19 Season Opens With New Adaptation of FRANKENSTEINStudio Tenn's 2018-19 Season Opens With New Adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN
March 16, 2018

Studio Tenn's 2018-19 season promises "yet another year of original works, family classics, musical masterpieces and Broadway blockbusters," as the company celebrates its ninth season.

Nashville Shakes' 30th Anniversary Celebration Continues with 'Pop-UpRight' ShakespeareNashville Shakes' 30th Anniversary Celebration Continues with 'Pop-UpRight' Shakespeare
March 14, 2018

All of Nashville is a stage - or will be at some point - as Nashville Shakespeare Festival's celebration of its 30th anniversary continues at venues both expected and unexpected during the coming months.

Nashville Children's Theatre Reveals New Logo, 2018-19 Season At Grand Night Patrons PartyNashville Children's Theatre Reveals New Logo, 2018-19 Season At Grand Night Patrons Party
March 7, 2018

With its vision focused squarely on the future, Nashville Children's Theatre (NCT) - the nation's oldest professional theatre for young audiences - last night revealed its upcoming "Season of Discovery," a slate of six challenging productions, along with an updated rendering of the company's iconic dragon logo.

BWW Review: ACT 1's Bleak Midwinter of Martin McDonagh's THE PILLOWMANBWW Review: ACT 1's Bleak Midwinter of Martin McDonagh's THE PILLOWMAN
March 5, 2018

Bleak and darkly menacing, playwright Martin McDonagh's view of the world in his blackest of black comedies The Pillowman focuses on the investigation into a series of child murders in a fictional totalitarian state sometime in the near future - or, given the political climate in this real country in which we finds ourselves existing right now, it could well be representative of a parallel universe of which we will learn in the next few weeks or even moments.

BWW Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's Poignant and Compelling MOCKINGBIRDBWW Review: Nashville Children's Theatre's Poignant and Compelling MOCKINGBIRD
March 3, 2018

Poignant and compelling, Mockingbird - the play adapted for the stage by Julie Jensen from the National Book Award-winning novel for younger audiences by Katherine Erskine - is a remarkably timely and prescient look at the aftermath of a school shooting for the people most intimately affected by it, in particular an 11-year-old girl named Caitlin, who has Asperger's syndrome, and whose beloved older brother was a victim of the horrific incident that takes place (mercifully, for audiences) prior to the start of the play.

BWW Review: Second Stage Student Theatre's HEDDA GABLER Will Give You Plenty to Talk AboutBWW Review: Second Stage Student Theatre's HEDDA GABLER Will Give You Plenty to Talk About
March 1, 2018

Hedda Gabler, both Henrik Ibsen's legendary anti-heroine and his eponymous play from whence she comes, challenges even the most experienced directors and actors to create a version of the piece that is engaging and authentic - and, perhaps more importantly, appealing to the people sitting in the audience witnessing the willful Hedda succumb to her baser instincts, even while attempting to become a dutiful wife in a society for which she seems emotinally ill-equipped.

BWW Review: CABARET Continues to Captivate On Opening Night at Nashville's TPACBWW Review: CABARET Continues to Captivate On Opening Night at Nashville's TPAC
February 28, 2018

One thing becomes abundantly clear while witnessing Bailey McCall Thomas' emotionally charged performance of the song 'Cabaret' during a performance of the iconic Broadway musical of the same name: there is perhaps no 'title song' quite so evocative, quite so stunning as John Kander and Fred Ebb's composition for Cabaret. For it is during that song, performed by Sally Bowles in a Weimar era nightclub in Berlin, that the show's entire focus - every theme that shapes the work in order to tell its totally engrossing and entertaining story - is brought sharply into view, set to a memorable melody that seems at once to be both joyous and mournful, ensuring that every audience member experiences a response unique to them.



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