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First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville First Night's Top Ten for 2018 - critic Jeffrey Ellis' annual review of the best in Tennessee theater - were revealed last night during a live Facebook broadcast, with the hosts of Midwinter's First Night (Ashley Wolfe, J. Robert Lindsay, Tosha Pendergrast and Ben Pendergrast) announcing the productions and performances recognized among the best of 2017.

The 30-minute live presentation also included a discussion of the history of The First Night Honors in Nashville as well as a lively discussion about the 2017 theatrical season in Music City.

Winners of First Night Awards will be announced during Midwinter's First Night festivities on Sunday, January 28, at Music Valley Event Center in Nashville. That event will also feature live performances and "hijinks" starring the team of co-hosts and a coterie of local theater luminaries.

Last night's reveal serves as the announcement of nominees for First Night Awards recognition in the categories of outstanding plays, outstanding musicals, outstanding performances by actors/actresses and ensembles, outstanding directors, choreographers and musical directors. The history of First Night goes back to 1989 and the original presentation of the Dare Theatre Awards, which subsequently became known as the First Night Awards and is now primarily known for The First Night Honors, a Kennedy Center Honors-inspired presentation that has been on hiatus since the 2015 presentation.

Productions and performances honored occurred during calendar year 2017.

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
The Amish Project

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING PLAYS FOR 2017

The Amish Project, Actors' Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Theatre

Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2, ACT 1

The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

The Hundred Dresses, Nashville Children's Theatre

The Motherfucker With the Hat, Destiny Theatre Experience

Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Richard II, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and Lipscomb University Theatre

Sense and Sensibility, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Silent Sky, Woven Theatre

The Whale, Verge Theatre Company

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Mamma Mia! in rehearsal

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING MUSICALS FOR 2017

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof, Belmont University Musical Theatre

If I Were You, The Theater Bug

Mamma Mia, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Million Dollar Quartet, Cumberland County Playhouse

Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Pirates of Penzance, Center for the Arts, Murfreesboro

Reefer Madness, ACT 1

Spamalot, Studio Tenn

The Secret Garden, Towne Centre Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Ernie Nolan

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING DIRECTORS OF A PLAY FOR 2017

Rene Copeland, A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Rene Copeland, Sense and Sensibility, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Laramie Hearn, Silent Sky, Woven Theatre

Kurt Jarvis, The Motherfucker With the Hat, Destiny Theatre Experience

Jaclynn Jutting, The Amish Project, Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Theatre

Jaclynn Jutting, The Whale, Verge Theater Company

Matt Logan, The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

Sean Martin, Richard II, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and Lipscomb University Theatre

Ernie Nolan, The Hundred Dresses, Nashville Children's Theatre

Lane Wright and Jim Manning, Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2, ACT 1

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Dave Ragland

TOP TEN (plus one) OUTSTANDING DIRECTORS OF A MUSICAL FOR 2017

Kim Bretton, Spamalot, Studio Tenn

Darryl Deason, Million Dollar Quartet, Arts Center of Cannon County

Cori Laemmel, If I Were You, The Theater Bug

Tim Larson, The Secret Garden, Towne Center Theatre

Jason Lewis, Reefer Madness, ACT 1

Bryce McDonald, Million Dollar Quarter, Cumberland County Playhouse

Bradley Moore, Mamma Mia, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

David Shamburger, Fiddler on the Roof, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Dave Ragland, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Wild Card Productions

Lynne Taylor Corbett, Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Jason Tucker, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, Nashville Repertory Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville TOP TEN OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTORS FOR 2017

Jo Lynn Burks, Fiddler on the Roof, Belmont University Musical Theatre

William Crim, The Wiz, Circle Players

Kelsi Fulton, Sister Act, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Stephen Kummer, Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Rollie Mains, Reefer Madness, ACT 1

Laura Matula, If I Were You, The Theater Bug

Ron Murphy, Million Dollar Quartet, Cumberland County Playhouse

John Ray, The Secret Garden, Towne Centre Theatre

Noah Rice, Big River, The Larry Keeton Theatre

David Weinstein, She Loves Me, Lipscomb University Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Emily Tello Speck

FIRST NIGHT'S TOP TEN OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHERS FOR 2017

Peter Fields, The Wiz, Circle Players

Stephanie Jones-Benton, Reefer Madness, ACT 1

Anna Perry, Fiddler on the Roof, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Lynne Taylor Corbett, Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Tosha Pendergrast, Big River, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Everett Tarlton, Mamma Mia, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Everett Tarlton, Sister Act, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Emily Tello Speck, 9 to 5: The Musical, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Emily Tello Speck, Spamalot, Studio Tenn

Kari Smith, She Loves Me, Lipscomb University Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Macon Kimbrough (at right)

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ACTORS IN A PLAY FOR 2017

Geoff Davin, Angels in America, Part 1, ACT 1

Drew Freeman, The Amish Project, Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Theatre

Eddie George, A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Macon Kimbrough, Angels in America, Part 2, ACT 1

Shawn Knight, The Whale, Verge Theater Company

Brent Maddox, The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

Taylor Novak, The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

Barry Scott, The Hundred Dresses, Nashville Children's Theatre

Matt Smith, The Motherfucker With the Hat, Destiny Theatre Experience

Santiago Sosa, Sense and Sensibility, Nashville Repertory Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Tamiko Robinson Steele and Eddie George in
A Raisin in the Sun

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ACTRESSES IN A PLAY FOR 2017

Caroline Amos, Richard II, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and Lipscomb University Theatre

Cat Arnold, Angels in America, ACT 1

Amanda Bell, The Amish Project, Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Theatre

Megan Blevins, The Motherfucker With the Hat, Destiny Theatre Experience

Carrie Brewer, Richard II, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and Lipscomb University Theatre

Meredith Daniel, Silent Sky, Woven Theatre

Lauren Frances Jones, A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Megan Murphy Chambers, The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

Tamiko Robinson Steele, A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Chandra Walton, Clybourne Park, Circle Players

Jackie Welch, A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Ryan Bowie in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ACTORS IN A MUSICAL FOR 2017

Ryan Bowie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Roxy Regional Theatre

Kevin Compton, Pirates of Penzance, Center for the Arts, Murfreesboro

Teal Davis, Big River, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Tyler Evick, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Circle Players

Cameron Gilliam, Reefer Madness, ACT 1

Ross Griffin, Million Dollar Quartet, Cumberland County Playhouse

Harley Jay, Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Stephen Hardy, Million Dollar Quartet, Arts Center of Cannon County

Gabe Hoyer, Fiddler on the Roof, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Everett Tarlton, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, Nashville Repertory Theatre

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva in
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ACTRESSES IN A MUSICAL FOR 2017

Alexis Alduenda, Pirates of Penzance, Center for the Arts, Mufreesboro

Katherine Boettcher, The Secret Garden, Towne Centre Theatre

Molly Dobbs, Million Dollar Quartet, Cumberland County Playhouse

Sara Fetgatter, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Roxy Regional Theatre

Jamila Hunter, The Wiz, Circle Players

Kristina James, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Circle Players

Kate Morgan Chadwick, Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Rachel Potter, Mamma Mia!, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Hannah Trauscht, If I Were You, The Theater Bug

Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Wild Card Productions

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
The cast of Smoke on the Mountain

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLES IN A MUSICAL FOR 2017

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Bring it On, The Musical, Circle Players

Jekyll and Hyde in Concert, Street Theatre Company

Mamma Mia!, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Million Dollar Quartet, Arts Center of Cannon County

Million Dollar Quartet, Cumberland County Playhouse

Part of the Plan, Tennessee Performing Arts Cetner

Pirates of Penzance, Center for the Arts, Murfreesboro

Smoke on the Mountain, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

The Wiz, Circle Players

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
The cast of Richard II

TOP TEN OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLES IN A PLAY FOR 2017

The Amish Project, Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University Theatre

Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2, ACT 1

Clybourne Park, Circle Players

The Elephant Man, Studio Tenn

The Motherfucker With the Hat, Destiny Theatre Experience

A Raisin in the Sun, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Richard II, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and Lipscomb University Theatre

Silent Sky, Woven Theatre

Steel Magnolias, Roxy Regional Theatre

The Whale, Verge Theatre Company

First Night's Top Ten for 2018 Announced in Nashville
Ashley Wolfe

About Midwinter's First Night 2017:

J. Robert Lindsay, Benjamin Pendergrast, Tosha Pendergrast and Ashley Wolfe will share the stage as co-hosts of 2018 Midwinter's First Night, set for Sunday, January 28, 2018, at Music Valley Event Center in Nashville. Midwinter's First Night is the annual presentation of First Night founder and executive producer Jeffrey Ellis' First Night's Top Ten of 2018 and the announcement of winners of the BWW Nashville Awards, voting for which continues through the end of December.

"Mad, bad and dangerous to know," Midwinter's First Night is the cold weather follow-up - the more irreverent younger sibling, if you will - to the more august First Night Honors. The history of The First Night Honors and Midwinter's First Night goes back to the 1989 debut of The Dare Theater Awards, which subsequently became the First Night Awards and evolved into The First Night Honors which bowed in 2010.

Festivities get under way at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 28, at Music Valley Event Center and will feature performances by some of the region's best-known stage performers.




From This Author - 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... (read more about this author)


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