Rubicon Theatre Company Presents Melissa Hammans Starring In NASHVILLE GAL as Part of Its Goldenson Broadway Concert Series
Celebrate the leading ladies of country music when Rubicon Theatre Company presents Broadway's Melissa Hammans in NASHVILLE GAL as part of the 2018 Janet and Mark L. Goldenson Broadway Concert Series. This tribute showcases the lives and music of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and many others. From the Smokey Mountains to the Kentucky coal mines, these ground-breaking artists made their way to Nashville to sing their truth with haunting sincerity, sometimes stirring up a little controversy along the way. These "queens of Country Music" would go on to break down walls and top the charts, becoming some of the most important artists in American music history. With voices as big as their hearts, and in some cases their hair, they sang from the battlefields of life, love, and heartache in the Deep South. Through story and song, Hammans' honey-dripping mezzo puts a fresh spin on classic hits that include "Walkin After Midnight," "Stand by Your Man," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Jolene" and rarer treasures that typify the genre, with musical direction by Sue Terwilliger. NASHVILLE GAL comes to Ventura for two performances only: Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. (with a post-show talkback)
Melissa Hammans is a Nashville-based singer, actress, teaching artist, and producer. Her uniquely rich vocals can be heard in virtually every genre from musical theatre to the vintage pop sounds of the '50s, '60s and '70s. Inspired by strong women in the industry, Hammans created Soul Picnic Productions to develop tributes to her idols. IShe has produced Back to the Garden which celebrates the music of folk-rock trailblazers Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Laura Nyro (which previously played at Rubicon and Off-Broadway); August 1969: A Tribute to the Women of Woodstock, featuring the music of Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Grace Slick, and Melanie; and Mind the Gap, featuring British Soul Sisters Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Amy Winehouse and Adele. Known for her heartfelt performances and comedic chops, Hammans has been praised for her work as an actor on stages in New York City, around the country, and across the globe, in productions including Company, Smokey Joe's Café, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Shout, Nunsense, And the World Goes 'Round, and more. She is a graduate of Indiana University.
In an interview with Ithaca Journal about the premiere of NASHVILLE GAL at Hangar Theatre earlier this year, Hammans described the subjects of her concert, "These women have had fascinating lives, and they were the first women to break through. That's a common theme in all of the shows. We try to honor and pay tribute to these women who have broken down walls and paved paths."
Having lived in Nashville for the past five years, this concert hits close to home for the Broadway performer. "It's always been in my blood," said Hammans. "I grew up listening to all these women. I have a big grandma and a little grandma. Big grandma was from Alabama, and her dad played the banjo, and there are pictures of me dancing around with him. So I think it's woven in our family's background."
Hammans says it was hard to narrow down the song selection for NASHVILLE GAL. "With this one, in terms of picking the songs, it's like picking your favorite child -it's hard to decide what goes in and what doesn't," she said. "There are the hits and the Grammy Award-winners and the ones the majority of us know. But through my research, I usually find things that I really connect with, like "Until I Make It On My Own," which is Tammy Wynette's favorite song that she ever wrote and recorded. Hopefully these kinds of songs will be discoveries for the audience as well."
Joining Hammons is Musical Director Sue Terwilliger, whose guitar-playing evokes the jangle of Joni Mitchell's strings, the bluesy jazz of Kenny Burrell and the searing solos of Jeff Beck. Her performance credits include Carnegie Hall, The Bottom Line in Nagasaki, Japan, and appearances on "The Sopranos." Sue spends her offstage time in Ithaca, NY and NYC, teaching guitar and writing music.
Rubicon performances of NASHVILLE GAL are Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. (with a post-show talkback) at the theatre's home in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, 1006 E. Main Street (corner of Main and Laurel), Ventura, CA 93001. Tickets are $55 for the general public, $46.75 when purchased as part of a 3-concert package, $35 for students with ID, and $40 for military. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (805) 667-2900, or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.
Watch a preview below: