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GOOD MORNING, THEATERATI! It's Tuesday, May 23, 2017, and we are all so very lucky to be alive and to be engaged in the creation of live theater - in Tennessee, no less - with the ability to live life dramatically and to reflect on the world around us. And what a world it is: Last night, people in Nashville were exultant...the Nashville Predators won the Western Conference Playoffs to advance to the Stanley Cup Final of the National Hockey League! After 18 years, our fair city's NHL franchise has done what we always knew they were capable of - make hockey fans out of a bunch of theater geeks who heretofore, for the most part, knew little about sports of any kind, much less a Canadian-born one that involves ice skates, a big stick and a rock-like thing called a puck (played by athletic men with impressive thighs and butts from all that skating)! Never have we seen the theater community so united (well, everyone except Alice Raver, whose Facebook posts have kept us laughing even while we suspect that Alice is proud of her Predators) in their support of anything as they have been in their fandom for the Preds. After a particularly challenging year in America (remember the election last November that sent a reality TV "star" to the Oval Office?), the Predators' victory has given us all something of which we can justifiably be proud and just goes to show you that Nashville ain't that backwater many may have thought us to be in the past.

While that was happening in Music City, news came from Manchester, England, that a bomb had been detonated outside an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people and injuring 59, in a senseless act of what authorities are calling "terrorism" and which horrifies every good person who walks this earth. Perhaps because it happened at the conclusion of a night of revelry and music, the event has touched the hearts of us all and we find ourselves again bereft and saddened by the cowardly act of violence.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone, known internationally for bringing music to disparate groups of individuals, posted this on Facebook in the aftermath of what happened in Manchester last night: "This photo was taken last Wednesday when I went to the M.E.N. arena to see Take That. As 'Never Forget' rang out, you couldn't imagine a more joyous, spontaneous celebration as people joined together in song. When The band mentioned their affection for Manchester, a roar went up from the crowd. I know that will have been the atmosphere last night as young people experienced the joy of hearing music together en masse, many for the first time. For that joy to turn to fear in this act of barbarism is beyond comprehension. My heart goes out to those poor families who are grieving this morning. To attack music is to attack the bonds that make us feel part of a society. We must sing today in defiance of this cowardice. Sending out love to you all. G"

Rehearsal got under way yesterday at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre for their first summer musical of the season, Sister Act, which stars Meggan Utech as Sister Mary Clarence/Delores Van Cartier, nine-time First Night Award winner and 2015 First Night Honoree Martha Wilkinson as the Reverend Mother, and newcomer Gracie McGraw (who was in my production of My Fair Lady at The Larry Keeton Theatre earlier this year) as Sister Mary Patrick. There's a whole gaggle of talented folks involved, in addition to director Bradley Moore, music director Kelsi Fulton and choreographer Everett Tarlton, and we expect the show to literally blow the roof off the Barn on opening night! Thanks to the lovely and talented Joy Tilley Perryman for providing us writh photographic proof of the gathering of the creative set on the stage of ye ol' Dinner Barn. #thenunsarecoming!

Of course, to make room for all those nuns, that means that closing night is fast approaching for Layne Sasser (who, quite frankly and honestly, we believe may be one of just a handful of local actors who can have an impact on the box office; what do you think? Who among Nashville actors can prompt theater-goers to buy tickets to a show?) and her cohorts in the current production of Beau Jest that wraps up this weekend. Call (615) 646-9977 for reservations.

We send out bountiful wishes of "break a leg" to the cast and crew of Beautiful, the Carole King musical, who celebrate their Music City opening night at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Jackson Hall tonight - and we simply cannot wait! Carole King is one of a handful of celebrities we'd love to meet (not that she'll be there, but still)! The show's in town through Sunday and tickets are still available. Don't miss this opportunity to hear the music of one of the best writers of any generation.

Daron Bruce, Lisa Forbis and company at Nashville Hume-Fogg Academic High School are getting ready for the 2017 edition of Back on Broadway, their third annual musical theatre benefit concert, on June 2 at 7 p.m. in the newly refurbished HFA Auditorium. Featured performers this year are Daniel Brown (from the HFA Class of 2000), Maria Logan (2005), Rachel Daniel (2006), Mary-Claire Lutz (2009) and Donovan Jordan (2011). The cast of HFA's most recent production of Rent will be among special guests expected at the event. Reserved seats are $20 per person and are available at General admission tickets (which will be available at half hour before curtain) are $15 for adults, $10 for students.

Today, May 23, we send out "Happy Birthday" wishes to: Nashville actor/director Eric Butler (ACT 1's Take Me Out and Arsenic and Old Lace); 2015 First Night Honoree Chip Arnold, well-known actor-director-writer last seen in Nashville Rep's Posterity; the multi-talented actor-artist-puppeteer Pete Carden; and Montgomery Bell Academy and Samford University graduate and 2010 First Night Most Promising Actor Ryan Penney. They share their special day with actor Douglas Fairbanks; TV-film and Broadway actresses Betty Garrett, Barbara Barrie (whom we met in the BNA airport many moons ago), Joan Collins (Dynasty) and actor Charles Kimbrough (erstwhile Jim Dial on TV's Murphy Brown) and Broadway star Randy Graff (City of Angels and Les Miserables).

From the BWW Nashville archives:





From "Our Theater Journal" come these chestnuts from the history of theater: Shuffle Along, with music by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, opened on this date in 1921; it was revived on Broadway, after a fashion, by George C. Wolfe, in 2016 as Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. A.R. Gurney's Later Life opened off-Broadway in 1993. David Auburn's Proof (he is a former Ingram New Works Fellow at Nashville Rep) opened at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000 (a subsequent Nashville Rep production starred birthday boy Chip Arnold). Auburn won the Pulitzer Prize that year. Jonathan Larson's tick...tick...BOOM! opened off-Broadway in 2001.

That concludes today's missive, but we'll be back tomorrow morning with much of the same. In the meantime, remember to CELEBRATE THE MAGIC OF LIVE THEATER!

Joan Baez And Emmylou Harris to Discuss Baez New Book At OZ Arts Nashville Photo
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WCPR Childrens Theatres MARY POPPINS JR. To Include Sensory-Friendly Performance Photo
The Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department and WCPR Children's Theatre announced the Rising Stars winter production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins Jr., which will include one sensory-friendly performance.

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 l... (read more about this author)

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