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

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


First Night's Class of 2018 Most Promising Actors Revealed at Midwinter's First NightFirst Night's Class of 2018 Most Promising Actors Revealed
Posted: Jan. 30, 2018


BWW Review: Arts Center of Cannon County's Spectacular HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Deserves Your AttentionReview: ACCC's Spectacular HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Posted: Feb. 14, 2018


BWW Review: DISNEY'S FREAKY FRIDAY Gets The Chaffin's Barn Musical TreatmentBWW Review: DISNEY'S FREAKY FRIDAY Gets The Chaffin's Barn Musical Treatment
Posted: Feb. 3, 2018


ANNIE Returns to the Cumberland County Playhouse Mainstage TomorrowANNIE Returns to the Cumberland County Playhouse Tomorrow
Posted: Feb. 2, 2018


BWW Review: Ashdown, White Lead Compelling HAMLET at Nashville Shakespeare FestivalReview: Ashdown, White Lead Compelling HAMLET at Nashville Shakespeare Festival
Posted: Jan. 26, 2018


Norma Luther, Ernie Nolan Named 'Theaterati of the Year' at Midwinter's First NightLuther, Nolan Named 'Theaterati of the Year' at Midwinter's First Night
Posted: Jan. 29, 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


Grade Schooler With Asperger's Syndrome is Main Character in NCT's MOCKINGBIRDGrade Schooler With Asperger's Syndrome is Main Character in NCT's MOCKINGBIRD
February 17, 2018

Nashville Children's Theatre, the nation's oldest professional theatre for young audiences will perform Mockingbird from March 1-18. Based on the award-winning book, Mockingbird provides a look at how a parent and his daughter with Asperger's syndrome cope with a tragic loss due to a school shooting.

Love and Changing Gender Roles Explored in Vanderbilt University Theatre's ORLANDOLove and Changing Gender Roles Explored in Vanderbilt University Theatre's ORLANDO
February 17, 2018

Jessika Malone (a Fred Coe Artist-in-Residence) directs the Vanderbilt University Theatre production Orlando, Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of a 1928 novel by Virginia Woolf, through February 24.

BWW Review: Arts Center of Cannon County's Spectacular HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Deserves Your AttentionBWW Review: Arts Center of Cannon County's Spectacular HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Deserves Your Attention
February 14, 2018

Passionate and captivating, The Hunchback of Notre Dame - the stage musical based on the Disney animated classic, featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Peter Parnell - is given a superb production at Woodbury's Arts Center of Cannon County and discerning theater patrons in Middle Tennessee have but two performances left to experience the show under the direction of Darryl Deason and Rachel Jones.

Peformances Continue This Weekend for ACT's YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWNPeformances Continue This Weekend for ACT's YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN
February 14, 2018

Directed by Debbie Shannon and Jay Shannon, the musical stars Hunter Thaw as Charlie Brown; Elizabeth Krebs as Lucy; Charlotte Myhre as Sally; Haydin Oechsle as Linus; 2018 First Night Most Promising Actor Danielle Threet as Snoopy; Jared Taylor as Shroeder; 2018 First Night Most Promising Actor Maddi Keaton as Frieda/Woodstock; Halley Andrews as Peppermint Patti; and Rachel Baskin as Marcie.

BWW Review: Nashville Ballet's Stunning Performance of Stephen Mills' LIGHTBWW Review: Nashville Ballet's Stunning Performance of Stephen Mills' LIGHT
February 13, 2018

Some 90 captivating minutes of creative, imaginative movement, Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project features the superb dancers of Nashville Ballet at their finest, bringing to life history in such a way that left their audiences rapt, riveted to the smallest of moments and the largest of themes as they are conveyed onstage to a stunning, stirring musical score.

Mary McCallum's CHASING JEREMY Opens at Darkhorse on 2/16Mary McCallum's CHASING JEREMY Opens at Darkhorse on 2/16
February 13, 2018

Mary McCallum directs her latest play - Chasing Jeremy - for a February 16-24 run at Nashville's Darkhorse Theater.

BWW Review: STC's THREEPENNY OPERA: Weimar Germany Is Having A MomentBWW Review: STC's THREEPENNY OPERA: Weimar Germany Is Having A Moment
February 9, 2018

The selection of The Threepenny Opera to inaugurate Street's 2018 season is one of the year's most eagerly anticipated theatrical events in Music City - thanks in part to the fact that it may well be the first home-grown staging of Brecht and Weill's parody of operetta that, in turn, skewers capitalistic society while touting socialist, even Troskyite, values in the guise of a rather farcical music hall diversion. Does it succeed? The answer is 'yes,' perhaps even an emphatic 'YES!' although one must pay close attention to the lyrics for the punch of the political set amidst a story that, on the surface, seems somewhat apolitical in tone, style and nature.

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK Next Onstage for Warren Arts in McMinnvilleBAREFOOT IN THE PARK Next Onstage for Warren Arts in McMinnville
February 6, 2018

Neal Simon's Barefoot in the Park - described as "the perfect romantic comedy for the Valentine's season" - will open the newly created Warren Arts theater space at 605 Red Road in McMinnville, running February 22-March 4.

KST Studio of Voice Hosts Winter Showcase at Murfreesboro's Washington Theatre 2/10KST Studio of Voice Hosts Winter Showcase at Murfreesboro's Washington Theatre 2/10
February 6, 2018

Voice students of critically acclaimed soprano Katherine Sandoval Taylor will be presented in a theatrical showcase on Saturday, February 10, at Murfreesboro's Washington Theatre at Patterson Park.

BWW Review: Perfect Timing for A SNOWY DAY at Nashville Children's TheatreBWW Review: Perfect Timing for A SNOWY DAY at Nashville Children's Theatre
February 5, 2018

What perfect timing! Kudos to Nashville Children's Theatre executive artistic director Ernie Nolan and education director Alicia Lark Fuss (who does double duty as director of the play) for their impeccable midwinter choice of A Snowy Day as the venerable company's first show of 2018. That they had frigid temperatures and snowy conditions to herald the opening of A Snowy Day, playwright Jerome Hairston's adaptation of four stories by Caldecott winner Ezra Jack Keats, was indeed serendipitous, lending some of Mother Nature's authenticity to the show's launch.

BWW Review: DISNEY'S FREAKY FRIDAY Gets The Chaffin's Barn Musical TreatmentBWW Review: DISNEY'S FREAKY FRIDAY Gets The Chaffin's Barn Musical Treatment
February 3, 2018

Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, Nashville's iconic professional theater, opens its 2018 season - its 52nd! - with an entertaining, if somewhat overly long, production of Disney's Freaky Friday, the new musical with a starry musical theater pedigree.

ANNIE Returns to the Cumberland County Playhouse Mainstage TomorrowANNIE Returns to the Cumberland County Playhouse Mainstage Tomorrow
February 2, 2018

Annie - the big-hearted Broadway musical about the comic strip heroine in search of her long-lost parents - opens Saturday, February 3, as the annual youth/volunteer production at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse.

Evelyn O'Neal Brush Directs ON THE VERGE For Lipscomb University TheatreEvelyn O'Neal Brush Directs ON THE VERGE For Lipscomb University Theatre
February 2, 2018

Lipscomb University Theatre kicks off its spring semester this February with Eric Overmyer's On the Verge, running February 16-25 in Shamblin Theatre.

Tennessee Playwrights Studio Announces 2018 Inaugural Season Fellows and AssociatesTennessee Playwrights Studio Announces 2018 Inaugural Season Fellows and Associates
February 2, 2018

Four TPS fellows - chosen from a competitive application process - will work under the direction of Kenley Smith, director of the TPS program, to develop new full-length scripts to be presented in a public reading at the Darkhorse Theatre this fall. Two Associates will serve as alternates for the program and will contribute to monthly workshop sessions in the first year and will fill two TPS fellow positions in 2019. TPS will work with actors from the Nashville community for workshops and readings.

BWW Review: Almost 70 Years After Its Premiere, THE KING AND I Continues to Captivate Nashville Audiences at TPACBWW Review: Almost 70 Years After Its Premiere, THE KING AND I Continues to Captivate Nashville Audiences at TPAC
January 31, 2018

Sumptuously designed and opulently mounted, the visual aesthetic for the Lincoln Center revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I (a year-and-a-half into its national tour and now ensconced at Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center for an eight-performance run through Sunday, February 4) is breathtakingly gorgeous, representative of the golden age of the Broadway musical. Add to those physical attributes the sublime performances of an ideally cast ensemble of multi-talented actors - including Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna Leonowens, Jose Llana as the King of Siam and Joan Amedilla as Lady Thiang - under the focused and imaginative direction of Bartlett Sher, whose revivals of some of the best-known masterpieces to be found in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon have cemented his placement in the firmament occupied by the legends of musical theater, and you have a classic show rendered in such a way that audiences respond and react as if they are seeing the much-beloved and time-honored work for the very first time.

First Night's Class of 2018 Most Promising Actors Revealed at Midwinter's First NightFirst Night's Class of 2018 Most Promising Actors Revealed at Midwinter's First Night
January 30, 2018

More than two dozen young actors in Tennessee were named to the Class of 2018 Most Promising Actors during festivities at Midwinter's First Night, the event produced to recognize outstanding productions and personalities of the previous year's theatrical season.

Norma Luther, Ernie Nolan Named 'Theaterati of the Year' at Midwinter's First NightNorma Luther, Ernie Nolan Named 'Theaterati of the Year' at Midwinter's First Night
January 29, 2018

Ernie Nolan, executive artistic director of Nashville Children's Theatre, and Norma Luther, who took over ownership of Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre and spearheaded its renaissance in 2017, last night claimed top honors as "Theaterati of the Year" at Midwinter's First Night at Music Valley Event Center.

BWW Review: Ashdown, White Lead Compelling HAMLET at Nashville Shakespeare FestivalBWW Review: Ashdown, White Lead Compelling HAMLET at Nashville Shakespeare Festival
January 26, 2018

Wonderfully complex - and somehow unexpected and altogether authentic - performances from Sam Ashdown as Hamlet and Cheryl White as his mother Gertrude are enough reason to experience Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of Hamlet (now onstage at Belmont University's Troutt Theatre through Sunday, followed by January 31-February 3 performances at Middle Tennessee State University's Tucker Theatre). But add to their stellar turns, an ensemble comprised of some of the best actors ever to set foot on a local stage, under the self-assured direction of the esteemed Denice Hicks (the company's artistic director), and it practically becomes a requirement for any theater lover within the sound of my voice.

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

Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, producer and actress Lari White Cannon who made her Broadway debut in the Johnny Cash musical review Ring of Fire died early this morning in Nashville after a battle with peritoneal cancer. She was 52 years old.

Theaterati of the Year Among New First Night's Top Ten Categories RevealedTheaterati of the Year Among New First Night's Top Ten Categories Revealed
January 2, 2018

Design categories, road shows, theatrical events and the 12 people whose achievements in 2017 are particularly noteworthy were revealed tonight as part two of First Night's Top Ten of 2018 - critic Jeffrey Ellis' annual review of the best in Tennessee theater was presented during a live Facebook broadcast with two of the hosts of Midwinter's First Night (Ashley Wolfe and J. Robert Lindsay) announcing the work recognized among the best of 2017.



...
1