FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Wednesday: A BLUER SHADE OF GRAY's Maddi and Chris Keaton

FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Wednesday: A BLUER SHADE OF GRAY's Maddi and Chris Keaton

The way Chris Keaton sees it, his decision to take on his first theatrical role as an adult was, essentially, a no-brainer. After all, what proud and devoted father would pass up the opportunity to spend a month or more of evenings with his daughter to join her in the pursuit of a new onstage persona in an original musical?

Chris Keaton, a successful and widely known producer in Nashville's challenging music business, admits he was, at first, taken aback by his daughter Maddi Keaton's request to join her in the cast of A Bluer Shade of Gray, a new original musical opening this week for Artists Community Theatre, based in the Nashville suburb of Antioch.

"How could I possibly say no when my 17-year-old daughter asked me to spend a month or more with her, doing something she loves?" he asks rhetorically.

FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Wednesday: A BLUER SHADE OF GRAY's Maddi and Chris KeatonMaddi, a senior at Lipscomb Academy, had already been cast in A Bluer Shade of Gray for ACT when the producer, director and music director put out a call among their cast members, asking if anyone knew of an actor who might be interested in joining the project during its formative period.

The much in-demand producer Chris Keaton - who counts among his noteworthy accomplishments, serving as producer of Tony Award winner (and star of Miss Saigon on the Est End and Broadway) Lea Salonga's 2011 album The Journey So Far - Recorded Live at Café Carlyle (whose liner notes features quote from the review written by yours truly) - was happy to join his daughter in the show, refusing to pass up the opportunity after he realizied that almost before he knew it, she would be leaving for college.

Maddi, whose resume is already burgeoning thanks to her own theatrical exploits at school and in local community theater, most likely gets her love of performance from Chris, who is a musician with tons of stories to share about life on the road with his band prior to becoming a producer.

Described as a "heartfelt" musical theater production, A Bluer Shade of Gray opens this Thursday, September 14, running through September 23, at 2601 Una Antioch Pike (for tickets, call 615-818-6674).

In today's Friday 5 (+1), Maddi Keaton's dad joins her to answer our queries and to tell you why they think you should come see ACT's A Bluer Shade of Gray.

What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater?

Maddi Keaton: Technically, my very first was sometime in pre-school when I played the Doctor Monkey and told the other monkeys not to jump on their beds. The real game-changer for me, however, was in sixth grade when I played Ms. Hannigan in Annie, Jr. That was when I decided I wanted to pursue theatre the rest of my life!

Chris Keaton: Except for a high school play, this is it!

What is your favorite pre-show ritual?

Maddi: My high school has a traditional "handshake" everyone does with each other before we go onstage. I know this is a very vague description of what happens, but I can't spoil our secret ritual! I also like singing along to show tunes while I do my hair and makeup.

Chris: Dancing by myself in a corner of the green room.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment?

Maddi: This past summer, I was in the ensemble of All Shook Up at Towne Centre Theatre. During "A Little Less Conversation," I wore a strapless red dress while dancing - already somewhat of a dangerous combination. During our closing performance, I was mid-shimmy when I felt a snap on my back, followed by a bit of a breeze. It dawned on me that the zipper had broken and opened up all the way, and a turn was coming up in our dance. Thankfully, this was before I cut my hair, so my long ponytail covered it (I think). It's a miracle that I didn't break character!

Chris: From my days of touring as an opening act for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons when their sax player got sick and they asked me to sit in. Frankie asked if I read charts. I lied, said I did and faked my way through the show. He hired me as a replacement when the sax player didn't return.

What's your dream role?

Maddi: I have several dream roles, but my top two are Veronica Sawyer in Heathers and Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Chris: Starring in my own show about being on the road with a band.

Who's your theatrical crush?

Maddi: Jeremy Jordan, if by some chance you're reading this...I know you're married, but hit me up.

Chris: Lea Salonga.

Why should people come see A Bluer Shade of Gray?

Maddi: This is a great original show with a very strong message of community. While it is largely based on Christian principles, it's important for people of all religions and all backgrounds to see because I feel that it can be relatable to anyone going through rough patches of life.

Chris: Ditto. And, of course to see Maddi and me!

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