Nashville's Theater Calendar 4/18/16

used with permission by Kenn Stilger/Heavenly Perspective Photography

"Spring is here! Why doesn't my heart go dancing?" - or at least to the theater to be transported to a different world, another time and place where life is transformed and magic happens before your very eyes...

Sometimes it seems there is so much theater happening that it's difficult to keep track of it all. From personal experience, despite all the datebooks, smart phones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops...it's hard to keep everything straight in this wacky business of the show.

Thus, we are happy to present one of our most popular features: The Nashville Theater Calendar, a comprehensive - maybe even exhaustive (lord knows we're exhausted from putting it together, gathering all the info from all over the interwebs!) - listing of theatrical openings for the 2015/16 season. We'll update the calendar every Monday, clearing out the shows that have closed and adding additional information on the shows still to come. Something's missing? That's an easy fix: just send us a message here, on Facebook, or by email at jeffreyellis37215@att.com.

Opened April 1

Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville: The Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers, running through May 28. www.ccplayhouse.com The Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers centers around the Lashley Sisters, a country-singing duo whose star was on the rise (with hit tunes like "Big Boned Dreams, Tiny Tambourines") until the publicity surrounding an accident brought their careers to a screeching halt. It seems Lashley Lee Lashley (Weslie Webster) was driving the band's tour bus while under the influence. Now the girls are back in their hometown of Ashland City, where sister Junie (playwright Lori Fischer) has taken over the family business, The Sparkley Clean Dry Cleaners. She also takes care of her father Lyle (Bill Frey), who's been having trouble remembering things lately. With Lashley fresh out of rehab and Junie up to her elbows in laundry, a professional comeback for the Lashley Sisters seems unlikely. That is, until Pastor Phil (Britt Hancock) of the Third United Separated Harmony Church informs them that Bindy Moss, the church's Funeral Singer, has gone to her eternal rest and asks them to take over the job. Junie pens the unforgettable tune "Bindy, Take A Seat At The Banquet Table (Cause There's No Need For Food Drives In Heaven)" and together with a reluctant Lashley, starts the sisters on a new career path: performing personalized sendoffs for the dearly departed! Will Lashley be able to stay clean and sober? Will Junie be able to juggle her taking care of the business - and her father - while writing her unique funeral songs? And will the Lashley Sisters make it back to Nashville? Audiences can find out beginning April 1, in The Sparkley Clean Funeral Singers, an unforgettable new musical comedy that's equally hilarious and heartwarming.

Opened April 8

Pull-Tight Players, Franklin: Rabbit Hole, running through April 23 www.pull-tight.com Celebrated author David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning play explores the various ways a family copes with unexpected and tragic death, with a deft balance of humor, pathos and hope. Whether or not you have seen the acclaimed Oscar-nominated film adaptation, you won't want to miss this exciting addition to the season.

Springhouse Theatre Company, Mark Twain Presents The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, running through April 24 www.springhousetheatre.com Join master storyteller Mark Twain as he leads us into the world of his most famous character: Tom Sawyer. Tom's adventures never fail to remind us of why great storytelling never grows old. There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. For a young rapscallion named Tom Sawyer, that time is the middle of April, and that someplace is Springhouse Theatre Company. Rutherford County's favorite live theatre company and one of the premier live theatre experiences in middle Tennessee, is pleased to welcome master storyteller, Mark Twain, to its stage, along with some of his most endearing and enduring creations, Huckleberry Finn, the Widder Douglas, Aunt Polly, and of course Tom Sawyer, in the season's mainstage finale, Mark Twain Presents The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Adapted for the stage by middle Tennessee playwright, novelist and filmmaker, Mike Parker, this delightful production allows Mark Twain, played skillfully by popular Nashville actor, Jack Gilpin, to interact with both the audience and the characters to bring the story to life. Springhouse Theatre Company presents Mark Twain Presents The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, April 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24. Show times: Fridays/Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and final Sunday matinee at 3:30 p.m. There is a special daytime performance on April 8 at 9:30 AM. Reservations are required for this one performance and tickets will NOT be available online for that show. To purchase tickets, please email Springhousetheatre@gmail.com. No phone calls, please.

Opened April 14

Nashville Children's Theatre, Nashville: A Year With Frog and Toad, running through May 15 www.nashvillechildrenstheatre.org A hit on Broadway, A Year With Frog And Toad was nominated for three Tony Awards - including Best Musical. Based on Arnold Lobel's well-loved books and featuring a hummable score by Robert and Willie Reale,this whimsical musical follows two great friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four, fun-filled seasons. Waking from hibernation in the spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding, and learn life lessons along the way. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in their differences that make them unique and special. The jazzy, upbeat score bubbles with melody and wit, making A Year With Frog and Toad an inventive, exuberant, and enchanting musical for the whole family.

The Larry Keeton Theatre, Donelson/Nashville: The Miss Firecracker Contest, running through April 30 www.thelarrykeetontheatre.org BWW Nashville senior contributing editor and founder/executive director of The First Night Honors Jeffrey Ellis directs the popular Beth Henley southern gothic comedy, the first play to be presented at The Keeton in several years. Britt Byrd, Katherine Morgan, Michael Adcock, Amber Boyer, Kurt Jarvis and Rebekah Stogner bring Henley's show to life.

Opened April 15

Actors Bridge Ensemble, in collaboration with Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance, at Belmont's Black Box Theatre, Nashville: The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (Nashville premiere), running through April 23. Directed by Leah Lowe, Actors Bridge board member and chair of the Theatre Department at Vanderbilt University, it will be performed in Belmont's Black Box Theatre, April 15-23. Once upon a time-in 2005-a twenty-year-old girl named Annie returned to her native Russia to brush up on the language and lose her American accent. Underneath a glamorous Post-Soviet Moscow studded with dangerously high heels, designer bags, and luxe fur coats, she discovers an enchanted motherland teeming with evil stepmothers, wicked witches, and ravenous bears. Annie must learn how to become the heroine of a story more mysterious and treacherous than any childhood fairy tale: her own. This subversive story haunts the audience, and carries a powerful message for young women living in a world where not everything ends up happily ever after.

Tuesday, April 19

MAS Nashville at Jamison Hall, The Factory at Franklin: SuperMAS www.masnashville.com Following up their super-fun, super-wild, super-packed performance last October at The Belcourt, MAS is back with a brand new show in a brand new venue! Cori Laemmel, Erin Parker, Laura Matula, Megan Murphy Chambers and Melodie Madden Adams bring you SuperMAS on Studio Tenn's stage in Jamison Theatre at The Factory. In SuperMAS, their ninth original production, the MAS gals will embrace their inner super-heroines; when they're not fighting crime and leaping tall buildings, they're delivering all of what audiences have come to love and expect: fantastic harmonies, glitter, high heels and humor in the polished-yet-irreverent way that only MAS can.

Opening April 21

Theater Craft, Inc., at Darkhorse Theatre, Nashville: Go From Here: The Music & Lyrics of Carolyn German, running through April 22. Go From Here: The Music & Lyrics of Carolyn German will be presented on April 21 and 22 as part of Theater Craft's Workshop Series. The show features the talents of: Bonnie Keen, Connye Florance, Ginger Newman, Tonya Pewitt, Taylor Simon, Anastasia Teel and Robert Whorton. Go From Here is directed by German, and music directed by Megan Santi, who also accompanies the singers. Songs include a wide variety of styles and genres, such as the humorous ode to the challenging Nashville roadway system called "A Corner"; the charming and whimsical "Parallel Universe"; and the comedic tour de force "You Can Keep the Wings." This workshop production is part of Theater Craft's 'Workshop Series', which focusing on honing new theater works for the stage by presenting them first as readings and then workshop productions. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10 and are available in advance on www.BrownPaperTickets.com, and at the door.

Opening April 22

Nashville Ballet at TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall, Nashville: Carmina Burana, running through April 24 www.nashvilleballet.com Nashville Ballet will conclude its 30th anniversary season with Carmina Burana, a collaboration of epic proportions, that will be performed at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall, April 22-24. In addition to Carmina Burana, the seasond finale features the world premiere of Nashville Ballet artistic director and CEO Paul Vasterling's Layla & The Majnun. Carmina Burana will feature 148 singers from The Nashville Symphony Chorus, 61 musicians from The Nashville Symphony, 25 choristers from the Nashville's Children's Choir and three guest vocalists, alongside 24 dancers from Nashville Ballet. Based on a collection of poems written by clergy and theology students in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, Carmina Burana examines love, fortune and the cycle of life. The ballet is set to the iconic music of German composer Carl Orff written in the 1930s. The opening piece, O Fortuna, has made its mark as one of the most recognizable pieces of music in the world. Its strong percussive elements, ancient lyrics and ominous tone make it a frequent choice for movie and television placements, video games and sports games. Carmina Burana will be complemented by the world premiere of Layla & The Majnun. With roots in fifth century Persia, Layla & The Majnun has become one of the most popular love stories of the Middle Eastern world (similar to Romeo & Juliet in the West). The ballet, which explores themes of unrequited love, devotion and spiritual enlightenment, is presented to original music by renowned American composer Richard Danielpour. Tickets for Carmina Burana with Layla & The Majnun start at $28 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at (615) 782-4040 or at www.nashvilleballet.com.

Towne Centre Theatre, Brentwood: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, running through May 7 www.townecentretheatre.tix.com Imagine if Picasso and Einstein had actually met: That's the premise for comedian-turned-playwright Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which opens this Friday, April 22, at Brentwood's Towne Centre Theatre.Directed by Jonah M. Jackson, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is set in a Parisian bar at the beginning of the 20th century (1904 to be precise), the play imagines a comical encounter between Pablo Picasso (played by Daniel Morgan) and Albert Einstein (Will Miranne), both of whom are in their early twenties and fully aware of their amazing potential. In addition to the two historical figures, the play is also populated with an amusingly incontinent barfly, a gullible yet lovable bartender, a wise waitress, along with a few surprises that trounce in and out of the Lapin Agile. Directed by Lipscomb University senior Jonah M. Jackson, the cast includes Andrew Johnson, Phil Brady, Emily Eytchison, Gracie Smith, Randal Cooper, Christopher Jennings, Jacqueline Smoak and Bowd Beal. Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens April 22 and runs through May 7. Tickets may be purchased online at www.townecentretheatre.tix.com, by email at tickets@townecentretheatre.com or by calling (615) 221-1174. Show time is at 8 p.m. for evening performances and 2:30 p.m. for Sundays. Doors open 30 minutes prior to curtain. Tickets are $16 for students, $18 for seniors 60 and over, and $20 for adults. Purchase a specially priced Thursday 4-pack of tickets online and get four tickets for only $60, a deal available online only. Group rates are also available.

Saturday, April 23

Nashville Shakespeare Festival, at Nashville Public Library: The Bard's Birthday Bash. www.nashvilleshakes.org Nashville Shakespeare Festival will celebrate Shakespeare's birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death this Saturday, April 23, with the Bard's Birthday Bash at the Nashville Public Library Main Branch, located at 615 Church Street. The free party is part of a global celebration marking the Shakespearean milestone and will take place in the library courtyard from 1 to 4 p.m. As part of the celebration, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival will also stage the seventh annual Biggest Balcony Scene Ever. Copies of the edited script will be available at the event and are available for download on the NSF website. During the reading, all of the Romeos will take their places in the library's main lobby, while all of the Juliets will stand above them on the mezzanine, or "balcony." Casual dress is fine but costumes are encouraged, as there will be prizes for categories that include Most Creative, Best Couple and Best Young Shakespearean. Live music, which starts at 1:45 p.m., will include David Olney presenting a sneak preview of one of the original songs written for this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of The Comedy of Errors. The winner from the English Speaking Union's first American "Singing Shakespeare" competition, Kate Pierson, will also perform. Snacks, soft drinks and cupcakes will be available on a first come, first served basis. In case of rain, the birthday party will move inside to the conference center on the first floor. For more information, visit www.nashvilleshakes.org, or call (615) 255-2273.

Theater Craft, Inc., at Darkhorse Theatre, Nashville: Improv Binge Watch! featuring the Spontaneous Comedy Company will be presented on April 23, at 8 p.m. Nashville's premiere improv comedy group is made up of 2012 First Night Honoree Jackie Welch-Schlicher, Frank Rains, 2013 First Night Honoree Carolyn German, and Josh Childs, with Kevin Madill on the keyboard. The Spontaneous Comedy Company has been bringing instantaneous live performances to Nashville audiences since 1998. With combined professional experiences that run from Musical Theater to Jazz, from Feature Film to National Commercials, and include writing, directing, performing, film-making, composing, and some serious goofing-off, it is no surprise that SCC has such a dedicated following. Tickets are $20, and available at www.Brownpapertickets.com, or at the door.

Opening April 26

Broadway at TPAC, Nashville: Mamma Mia!, running through May 1 www.tpac.org The ultimate feel-good show that has audiences coming back again and again, Mamma Mia! Is back on tour after its recent Broadway closing. You won't want to miss the show that combines all of ABBA's greatest hits with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship. It will have you dancing in your seat, for sure!

Opening May 6

ACT 1, at Darkhorse Theater, Nashville: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, running through May 21, www.act1online.com Melissa Williams directs.

Murfreesboro Little Theatre: Backyard Bard: Romeo & Juliet, running through www.mltarts.org

Opening May 10

Broadway at TPAC, Nashville: The Bridges of Madison County, running through May 15 www.tpac.org Winner of the 2014 Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations, the irresistible The Bridges of Madison County makes its Nashville debut with a limited, one-week engagement at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall on May 10-15. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 18, at 10:00 a.m. at TPAC.org, by phone at (615) 782-4040, and at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick Street, in downtown Nashville. For group tickets, please call (615) 782-4060. The critically-acclaimed musical of The Bridges of Madison County features one of Broadway's most accomplished creative teams with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, 'night, Mother), and direction by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The King and I, The Light in the Piazza), recreated by Tyne Rafaeli.

Opening May 13

Verge Theater Company, at Belmont's Black Box Theatre, Nashville: Skinless, running through May 26 www.vergetheaterco.org David Lee directs Verge Theater Company's next production - Johnna Adams' Skinless - running May 13-26 at the Belmont Black Box Theater. According to a synopsis of the play, provided by the company: "In Johnna Adams' gothic-thriller Skinless, legends of skinless people who roam the woods of rural Georgia may prove more fact than fiction. Emmi Falco is a PhD candidate obsessed with forgotten pulp-horror writer Zinnia Wells, whose belief in the Skinless hid secrets even more haunting. Set both in the halls of present-day academia and on the Wells' remote farm more than a half-century in the past, Skinless winds an intelligent, wrought, and wicked tale that is equal-parts Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and Sam Shepard's Buried Child." Lee directs an ensemble of actors which includes 2015 First Night Honoree Wesley Paine, along with Allie Huff, Alexandra Chopson, Brooke Gronemeyer, Becky Wahlstrom and Taylor Chew. The understudy cast is made up of Fiona Soul, Tessa Bryant, Sadie Andros, Morgan Conder, Nettie Kraft and Amanda Bell. Performances of Skinless are slated for May 13, 14 and 15, May 20, 21, 23 and 26. Curtain for each performance is at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $15 and are available at www.vergetheaterco.org.

Opening May 31

Broadway at TPAC, Nashville: Disney's Beauty and the Beast, running through June 5 www.tpac.org

Opening June 2

Music City Theatre Company at Darkhorse Theatre, Nashville: Psycho Beach Party, running through June 11. www.mctc.ticketleap.com Bradley Moore directs a revival of Charles Busch's Psycho Beach Party, starring Elizabeth Ayres Turner and Taylor Novak.

Opening June 3

Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury: Always, Patsy Cline, running through June 18 www.artscenterofcc.com

Circle Players, at the Z. Alexander Looby Theatre, Nashville: Disney's The Little Mermaid, running through June 19. www.circleplayers.net In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney's The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. Directed by Brittany Blaire Anderson.

Studio Tenn, Franklin, at Schermerhorn Symphony Center: West Side Story, running through June 4, www.studiotenn.com

Pull-Tight Players, Franklin: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, running through June 18 www.pull-tight.com Trust us - your elementary school spelling bee was never like this! Take a group of neurotic, over-achieving grade schoolers with a dictionary in their hands and hope in their hearts, add a group of equally wacky moderators and stir for a delightful and sharply funny comedy that will have you rolling in the aisles. But don't get too comfy on the floor - you might just be picked to join the bee!

Opening June 7

Broadway at TPAC, Nashville: If/Then, running through June 7 www.tpac.org

Opening June 9

The Larry Keeton Theatre, Donelson/Nashville: Thoroughly Modern Millie, running through June 25 www.thelarrykeetontheatre.org

Opening June 10

Murfreesboro Little Theatre: Butterflies Are Free, running through www.mltarts.org

Opening July 8

Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury: The Little Mermaid, running through July 23 www.artscenterofcc.com

Murfreesboro Little Theatre: Next to Normal, running through www.mltarts.org

Opening July 18

Destiny Theatre Experience, at The Darkhorse Theater, Nashville: 7 Plays in 7 Days, running through July 30. After the success of the first 7 Plays In 7 Days in 2014, the Destiny Theatre Experience is bringing the event back with seven different plays for another seven-day run (July 18-24) with three encores July 28-30. Come join us for seven original plays by Shawn Whitsell. Tentative show schedule (in no particular order) Songs For Our Sons, 143, STEREO-type, En-Contracted, A Suffered Wrong, Colored and Moments in Time (tentative). Opening reception Sunday, July 17. More info to come. Save the dates!

Opening August 12

Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury: Rock of Ages, running through August 27 www.artscenterofcc.com

Opening September 30

Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury: The Odd Couple, running through October 15 www.artscenterofcc.com

Opening November 4

Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury: Chitty Chitty Bang Band, running through November 19 www.artscenterofcc.com



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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis