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First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City

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First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 - critic Jeffrey Ellis' annual review of the best in Tennessee theater - were revealed tonight during a live Facebook broadcast at 7:30 p.m. (CST), with Actor's Bridge Ensemble and Studio Tenn/TPAC leading the nods in this year's listing of categories.

Among the various nominations outlined in First Night's Top Ten of 2017 are:

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING MUSICALS

7 Ways to Sunday, The Theatre Bug

1776, Center for the Arts

American Idiot, Roxy Regional Theatre

Annie Get Your Gun, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Assassins, Street Theatre Company

Chicago, Nashville Rep

Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

Memphis the Musical, Arts Center of Cannon County

Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Parade, Belmont University Musical Theatre

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING PLAYS

4,000 Miles, Music City Theatre Company

Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Tennessee Women's Theater Project

Failure: A Love Story, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Actor's Bridge/Belmont University Theatre

Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

Hand to God, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

King Lear, Nashville Shakespeare Festival

Skinless, Verge Theatre Company

The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

The Ice Treatment, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Corinne Bupp, as Laurey Williams, Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Robbyn "Vyrgo" Daniel, as Effie Melody White, Dreamgirls, Center for the Arts

Eden Espinosa, as Eva Peron, Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

Savannah Gannon, as Patsy Cline, Always, Patsy Cline, Arts Center of Cannon County

LaToya Gardner, as Delores Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence, Sister Act the Musical, Circle Players

Lilla Golgoczy-Toler, as Sunday, 7 Ways to Sunday, The Theater Bug

Ginger Newman, as Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Melinda Paul, as Felicia Fontaine, Memphis the Musical, Arts Center of Cannon County

Tonya Pewitt, as Annie Oakley, Annie Get Your Gun, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Bekah Purifoy, as Nina, In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Matt Baugher, as Curly, Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Ryan Bowie, as St. Jimmy, American Idiot, Roxy Regional Theatre

Ben Crawford, as Che, Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

David Cummings, as John Adams, 1776, Center for the Arts

Shawn Knight, as Amos Hart, Chicago, Nashville Rep

Patrick Kramer, as The Balladeer, Assassins, Street Theatre Company

Noah Rice, as The Emcee, Cabaret, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Michael Spencer, as Leo Frank, Parade, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Arik Vega, as Usnavi, In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

Scott Patrick Wilson, as The Beast, Beauty and the Beast, Lipscomb University Theatre

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Rachel Agee, as Blondie, The Ice Treatment, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Kim Bretton, as Margery, Hand to God, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Evelyn O'Neal Brush, as Emilie, Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Tennessee Women's Theater Project

Britt Byrd, as Carnelle Scott, The Miss Firecracker Contest, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Megan Murphy Chambers, as Josie, Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

Brooke Gronemeyer, as Zinnia Wells, Skinless, Verge Theatre Company

Denice Hicks, as King Lear, King Lear, Nashville Shakespeare Festival

Shannon Hoppe, as Elizabeth Proctor, The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

Martha Wilkinson, as Dottie Otley, Noises Off, Nashville Rep

Austin Williams, as Anya, Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Actor's Bridge Ensemble/Belmont University Theatre

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A PLAY

Nat McIntyre, as Frank Wayne, Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

Taylor Novak, as Leo, 4,000 Miles, Music City Theatre Company

Blake Holliday, as Jason, Hand to God, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Ross Bolen, as John Proctor The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

Michael Adcock, as Delmount Williams, The Miss Firecracker Contest, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Jacob York, as Garry LeJeune, Noises Off, Nashville Rep

Derek Whittaker, as Lenny, Rumors, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Chambers Stevens, as Chambers, It's Who You Know, Maverick Productions

Sean Martin, as Rev. John Hale, The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

Alex Murray, as Dumptruck, Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL presented by Julia Nettles

7 Ways to Sunday, The Theater Bug

1776, Center for the Arts

American Idiot, Roxy Regional Theatre

Assassins, Street Theatre Company

Chicago, Nashville Rep

Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Parade, Belmont University Musical Theater

Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers, Cumberland County Playhouse

Taffetas, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theater

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY

Failure: A Love Story, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Actor's Bridge/Belmont University Theatre

Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

Hand to God, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

King Lear, Nashville Shakespeare Festival

Noises Off, Nashville Rep

Rumors, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theater

Skinless, Verge Theatre Company

The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL

Rene D. Copeland, Chicago, Nashville Rep

Matthew Hayes Hunter, Dreamgirls, Center for the Arts

Cori Anne Laemmel, 7 Ways to Sunday, The Theater Bug

Tim Larson, Sister Act the Musical, Circle Players

Matt Logan, Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

David Shamburger, Parade, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Cathy Street, In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

Jason Tucker, Assassins, Street Theatre Company

Cyndie Verbeten, 1776, Center for the Arts

Martha Wilkinson, Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY

Beki Baker, The Crucible, Blackbird Theatre/Lipscomb University Theatre

Lydia Bushfield, Rumors, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theater

Maryanna Clarke, Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Tennessee Women's Theater Project

Rene D. Copeland, Good Monsters, Nashville Rep

Rene D. Copeland, Noises Off, Nashville Rep

Nate Eppler, The Ice Treatment, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

David Ian Lee, Skinless, Verge Theatre Company

Leah Lowe, Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Actor's Bridge Ensemble/Belmont University Theatre

Jessika Malone, Failure: A Love Story, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

Mitch Massaro, Hand to God, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER OF A MUSICAL

Pam Atha, Chicago, Nashville Rep

Casey Hebbel, 7 Ways to Sunday, The Theater Bug

Shauna Smartt Hopkins, Taffetas, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Curtis LeMoine and Lauri Gregoire, Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Tosha Pendergrast, Dreamgirls, Center for the Arts

Tosha Pendergrast, In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

Emily Tello Speck, Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

Emily Tello Speck, Parade, Belmont University Theatre

Cary Street, Cabaret, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Taylor Tracey, Annie Get Your Gun, The Larry Keeton Theatre

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Jaclyn Brown, Taffetas, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre

Jo Lynn Burks, Parade, Belmont University Musical Theatre

Randy Craft, In the Heights, Street Theatre Company

Emily Dennis, Dreamgirls, Center for the Arts

Eric Fritsch, 7 Ways to Sunday, The Theater Bug

Timothy C. Fudge, Oklahoma!, Music City Theatre Collective

Stephen Kummer, Evita, Studio Tenn/TPAC

Ginger Newman, Annie Get Your Gun, The Larry Keeton Theatre

Mary Ellen Smith, Always, Patsy Cline, Arts Center of Cannon County

Jason Tucker, Chicago, Nashville Rep

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL WORK

7 Ways to Sunday, by Cori Anne Laemmel and Eric Fritsch, The Theater Bug

Good Monsters, by Nate Eppler, Nashville Rep

Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers, by Lori Fischer and Don Chaffer, Cumberland County Playhouse

The Ice Treatment, by Nate Eppler, Actor's Bridge Ensemble

OUTSTANDING TOURING PRODUCTION presented by Bradley Moore

MAMMA MIA!

RENT: The 20th Anniversary Tour

BOOK OF MORMON

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

MATILDA THE MUSICAL

SEX TIPS FOR STRAIGHT WOMEN FROM A GAY MAN

IT'S WHO YOU KNOW

Ellis' nods for the best performances and productions of the previous calendar year were announced by the team of co-hosts for Midwinter's First Night (Julia Marie Nettles, Jenna Pryor and Taylor Tracey, along with associate producer Bradley Moore), at which the winners of First Night Awards will be announced. Midwinter's First Night, to be held Sunday, January 8, at The Larry Keeton Theatre, will also feature live performances and "hijinks" starring the team of co-hosts and a coterie of local theater luminaries.

Tonight's reveal is essentially 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 was on hiatus in 2016, but will once again be the crowning point of the 2017 theater season next September.

Among performances slated for Midwinter's First Night will be songs presented by the Keeton Theatre cast of My Fair Lady; Murfreesboro's Center for the Arts' 9 to 5: The Musical; Expression City's Hairspray; and The Theater Bug's 7 Ways to Sunday. Memory Strong-Smith and Ashley Wolfe will also perform solo turns during the January 8 show.

Presenters for Midwinter's First Night include: Britt Byrd, Katherine Morgan, Michael Adcock, Cavender Lane, Erica Patterson, Patrick Kramer, John Frost Jr., Brittany Easley, Cassie Hamilton, Amanda Grace Creech, Brooke Gronemeyer, Wesley King, Sheridan Hitchcox, Brandon Hoyt, Shelby Jones, Lucy Turner, David Arnold, Cat Arnold and LaQuita James.

For tickets to Midwinter's First Night, call (615) 892-4044.

About Midwinter's First Night 2017:

Austin Jeffrey Smith, Taylor Tracey, Jenna Pryor and Julia Nettles will share the stage as co-hosts of 2017 Midwinter's First Night, set for Sunday, January 8, 2017, at The Larry Keeton Theatre in Donelson. Midwinter's First Night is the annual presentation of First Night founder and executive producer Jeffrey Ellis' First Night's Top Ten of 2017 and the announcement of winners of the BWW Nashville Awards, voting for which continues through the end of December.

The 2017 artwork, designed by David Arnold, is being revealed today "to whet the appetites" of theater-goers throughout Tennessee.

"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 8, at the Keeton Theatre and will feature performances by some of the region's best-known actors.

Tickets are $15 per person, at the door, or $12.50 in advance by debit/credit and are available by calling (615) 892-4044.

About the hosts:

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City Julia Marie Nettles is a former student of the American Musical Dramatic Academy and Belmont University, who has previously performed in Psycho Beach Party as Bettina Barnes with Music City Theater Company, as Whatsername in Circle Player's production of American Idiot, in Vagina Monologues with Music City Theater Company, The Producers with Boiler Room Theater, and in Legally Blonde with Keeton Theater, plus a host of others over the years. Julia cites her parents Dr. Darryl and Nancy Nettles as her biggest inspirations. So excited to be a part of Jeffrey Ellis's wonderful Midwinter's First Night extravaganza!

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City Jenna Pryor, a California native, has called Nashville home for six years now. When she's not waiting tables and dressing up as princesses for money, you've seen her in various performances at Chaffin's Barn, Music City Theatre Company's Psycho Beach Party (Chicklet) and The Eight (Vixen), Act 1's August Osage County (Jean), Sideshow Fringe's Matt and Ben (Ben Affleck/producer), as well as the regional premieres of the Renaissance's Players' Peter and the Starcatcher (Molly), and Circle Players' American Idiot the Musical. Other performances include Disney's Tarzan (Jane), Urinetown (Hope), The Last Five Years (Cathy), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Christine).

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City Austin Jeffrey Smith is a 2016 graduate of Cumberland University, with a degree in vocal performance. Since graduation he has been in several shows, including The Mouse Trap (playing Christopher Wren), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy Smith), Cabaret (Ernst Ludwig) and Annie Get Your Gun (Tommy Keeler). Austin is humbled and honored to be a part of Midwinter's First Night as a host, and hopes all will enjoy the show!

First Night's Top Ten of 2017 Announced in Music City Taylor Tracey is so happy to be hosting tonight. First Night has meant a lot to her since joining the theater community in 2012. Some her more notable roles have been Elle Woods (Legally Blonde), Natalie (All Shook Up), Rizzo (Grease), Ado Annie (Oklahoma), Clara (Light in The Piazza), and Mary Jane (Big River) just to name a few. Her First Night appearances include performing a song from Legally Blonde in 2012, Sister Act for the 2016 Midwinter show, and most recently a few songs from Cabaret. Taylor would like to thank her family, friends, co-hosts and especially her son Matty for their constant support. A special shout out to Jef for believing in her and giving her this amazing opportunity. Enjoy the show!


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