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

BWW Review: CFTA's NEWSIES was Swell, But May We Have a Respite Now?Review: CFTA's NEWSIES was Swell, But May We Have a Respite Now?
Posted: Jan. 30, 2019


BWW Review: Nashville Story Garden's Stunning IRONBOUND Closes All-Too-Brief Run TonightReview: Nashville Story Garden's Stunning IRONBOUND Closes Tonight
Posted: Feb. 2, 2019


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


BWW Review: A BRONX TALE Gets A Warm Welcome At Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts CenterReview: A BRONX TALE Gets A Warm Welcome At Nashville's TPAC
Posted: Feb. 13, 2019


Third Annual WINTER SHOWCASE On Tap Saturday at KST Studio of VoiceThird WINTER SHOWCASE On Tap Saturday at KST Studio of Voice
Posted: Feb. 6, 2019


SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Opens the 2019 Season at Woodbury's Arts Center of Cannon CountySINGIN' IN THE RAIN Opens 2019 Season at Arts Center of Cannon County
Posted: Jan. 26, 2019


LAST 365 DAYS

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: 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


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: Starmaking Performances Lead Belmont University's Exhilarating ON THE TOWNReview: Starmaking Performances in Belmont's ON THE TOWN
Posted: Mar. 21, 2018


BWW Review: Circle Players' HAIR Captures a Moment in Time With Absolute Confidence
October 8, 2018

Hair is a great big hit on the symbolic and mostly imaginary bong that is theater in Music City - or anywhere else artists come together to share the largesse of their own indomitable spirits. The resulting production will leave you inspired, maybe even more readily equipped with the realities of life in the 21st century, which proves that no matter how much times have changed, they remain stultifyingly the same. While our prejudices and biases may have been altered by the social upheaval of the 1960s and the decades that followed, introspection reveals that we only have refocused our baser instincts on issues of equal significance.

BWW Review: Posner's STUPID FUCKING BIRD Launches ACT 1's 30th Season
October 8, 2018

There is a wonderful scene in act two of Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird - the first production of ACT 1's 2018-19 season - during which actors Tamara Scott and Diego Gomez, playing mother and son, launch into a years-in-the-making confrontation that gives both actors an opportunity to prove their mettle in decidedly theatrical fashion. If only for that one scene in Posner's three-act play, audiences could walk away satisfied, but thanks to Mark Cabus' inspired direction of a particularly notable cast there are far more moments to entertain and, perhaps, to challenge audiences to think about the personal cost of creating art.

BWW Review: Towne Centre Theatre's THE BAD SEED Offers 1950s-Flavored Seasonal Fun
October 6, 2018

A word to the wise is sufficient: Never turn your back on Rhoda Penmark. No matter how well-behaved, how polite or how sickeningly sweet she may seem, the little girl with the larcenous heart simply cannot be trusted and it is at your own peril that you decide to trust her - the fact that she is a fictional character notwithstanding.

VIDEO: CMA Foundation and Kristin Chenoweth Host High School Students for Special Q&A at Schermerhorn Sound Check
October 5, 2018

Students participating in the annual Spotlight Awards, a celebration of musical theatre in Tennessee high schools, were special guests of Tony and Emmy award winner Kristin Chenoweth last week during sound check prior to her performances with the Nashville Symphony at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Everything's Going Right for THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG's Evan Alexander Smith
October 5, 2018

"Two hours of uncompromising joy" is how Evan Alexander Smith describes the critically acclaimed The Play That Goes Wrong, the West End and Broadway comedy hit which just recently embarked on its first national tour of the USA, bringing its unique amalgam of theatrical artistry, uproarious humor and full-out laughter to audiences all over the country.

Friday 5(+1): The Cast of Circle Players' HAIR
October 5, 2018

Circle Players continues to celebrate of its 2018-19 season with tonight's opening of Hair, the 1969 tribal love-rock musical that made musical theater history with its premiere 50 years ago. Directed by Jason Lewis and choreographed by Tosha Pendergrast, the eagerly anticipated production features a cast of Nashville's favorite actors, with Nicholas Page as Claude.

CMA Foundation and Kristin Chenoweth Host High School Students for Special Q&A at Schermerhorn Sound Check
October 9, 2018

Students participating in the annual Spotlight Awards, a celebration of musical theatre in Tennessee high schools, were special guests of Tony and Emmy award winner Kristin Chenoweth last week during sound check prior to her performances with the Nashville Symphony at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Thursday 5(+1): Callum Ammons, Alexius Frost and Mark David Williams from JEKYLL & HYDE
October 4, 2018

Director Renee Robinson brings the Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll & Hyde - based on Robert Louis Stevenson's iconic novella - to life at Murfreesboro's Center for the Arts, opening Friday, October 5 and continuing through October 21.

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERG
October 3, 2018

Following a summer spent as an intern with Studio Tenn (and appearing in the company's production of Frankenstein), Regan Holmberg finds herself in the midst of her junior year at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and already is hard at work on her first show of the semester. In fact, she predicts fall semester 2018 is going to be as jam-packed as her summer was as Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine opens in MTSU's Dorethe Tucker Theatre tonight.

SAVE THE DATE: Nashville Theater Calendar for October 1, 2018
October 1, 2018

Looking into the future, you'll find a number of new productions on tap for your entertainment pleasure, thanks to the efforts of theater companies all over Middle Tennessee. Here's our calendar for October 1, 2018, to help you plot your course through the end of the year...

Kristin Chenoweth 'Comes Home' For Trio of Concerts With the Nashville Symphony
September 29, 2018

There's just something about Kristin Chenoweth. It's almost undefinable, perhaps even undescribable, yet as with any writer's efforts to put into words how remarkable the woman behind the image is, I'll give it my best shot, attempting to encapsulate the wonder that is Kristin Chenoweth in 2,000 words or less (but if I go over, don't judge too harshly - I'm simply stating the facts that prove the folly of my initial hypothesis).

FRIDAY 5(+1): AND THEN THERE WERE...Four at Arts Center of Cannon County
September 28, 2018

Theater audiences in Middle Tennessee are treated to a delicious murder mystery from the doyenne of British whodunits as Arts Center of Cannon County unveils its latest production - Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None - in a sumptuous new mounting from director Cyndie Verbeten. Opening tonight and continuing through October 13, the story focuses on a group of people brought together on a remote island where there is danger and intrigue afoot.

Thursday 5(+1): Six Gentlemen From the Nashville Premiere of THE BOYS IN THE BAND
September 27, 2018

It's the day of the show, y'all: The Nashville premiere of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band is tonight - at The Barbershop Theatre, 4003 Indiana Avenue in The Nations - and six of the actors portraying Crowley's now-iconic characters took time from tech week to answer questions about their processes and to offer their reasons for why you should come see the show.

Kristin Chenoweth 'Comes Home' For Trio of Concerts With the Nashville Symphony
September 27, 2018

There's just something about Kristin Chenoweth. It's almost undefinable, perhaps even undescribable, yet as with any writer's efforts to put into words how remarkable the woman behind the image is, I'll give it my best shot, attempting to encapsulate the wonder that is Kristin Chenoweth in 2,000 words or less (but if I go over, don't judge too harshly - I'm simply stating the facts that prove the folly of my initial hypothesis).

THE BOYS IN THE BAND Set for 6 Performance Run at Barbershop Theatre 9/27-10/1
September 27, 2018

Nine Nashville area actors have been cast in the upcoming production of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, which will play six performances at The Barbershop Theatre, 4003 Indiana Avenue, in a production helmed by veteran director Jeffrey Ellis, who is known throughout Tennessee as a leading theater journalist and critic.

Matt Logan Stepping Down as Artistic Director of Studio Tenn
September 26, 2018

Matt Logan, the artistic director of Studio Tenn, will leave his position with the award-winning, professional theater company, effective November 2018, to 'pursue new creative opportunities.'

Collegiate Theatrics: Lipscomb University's BROOKE BETHEL
September 26, 2018

For Brooke Bethel, now enrolled at Nashville's David Lipscomb University, the road to becoming an actor - or, more to the point, majoring in theatre in college - has taken a circuitous route since her childhood in northwestern Idaho.

Humanity Theatre Project Explores the Fragility of Democracy with First Production
September 25, 2018

What would have happened if the United States had voted the wrong president into office in 1936 and the country had descended into fascism? That is the question explored as The Humanity Theatre Project launches its first season with a staged reading of It Can't Happen Here (Part 1) adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen from the novel by Sinclair Lewis. The production will take place Thursday, November 1 through Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 pm at The Darkhorse Theatre, 4610 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville.

SAVE THE DATE: Nashville Theater Calendar for September 23
September 23, 2018

Looking into the future, you'll find a number of new productions on tap for your entertainment pleasure, thanks to the efforts of theater companies all over Middle Tennessee. Here's our calendar to help you plot your course...

BWW Review: Spectacular Cast Gives Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIES A Fresh Appeal
September 22, 2018

For plenty of fast-paced action, along with some stellar performances by a fresh-faced cast of eager young theatrical triple threats and a coterie of Nashville stage favorites, one need look no further than Disney's Newsies, the latest onstage offering from Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, the iconic Music City venue that's been entertaining audiences for more than half a century. In its way, The Barn (as it is affectionately known in these parts) and its laudable history ensure that its treatment of the popular musical theater title lend the show's historical basis more than a little gravitas in the making of a stage spectacle.



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