Nashville's Theater Calendar 4/25/16

"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.

Taylor Casey

This week's Theatrical Birthdays of note: Monday, April 25: actor/singer/dancer Taylor Casey; Nashville native now in NYC Elizabeth Moses Mahowald, one of the first winners of a First Night Award in 1988; 2011 First Night Honoree Pam Atha, director/actress/choreographer; 2011 First Night Most Promising Actor Markus McClain; Nashville stage and film actress Becky Wahlstrom; and actor/singer Christopher Anderson. Tuesday, April 26: Hendersonville actress Mindy Tolbert; Murfreesboro actor Anderson Dodd; Nashville actress and singer Molly Weinberg; actress/director Ginny Cavin; actress Santayana Harris; and former Nashville singer/actress Heather Anderson (Boiler Room Theatre's Rent), now making her home in San Francisco; Wednesday, April 27: 2014 First Night Honoree Carol Ponder; actress/stage manager and Tennessee Women's Theater Project veteran Leah Fincher; actress Eleni Alex; 2010 First Night Honoree A. Sean O'Connell; Belmont alumna and current New Yorker Kallen Prosterman; and Nashville actress/musician Larissa Maestro (Kim in Street Theatre Company's Miss Saigon in Concert). Thursday, April 28: Lipscomb alumnus Nick Hogan; Nashville vocal coach Jonathan Kasper; and Nashville singer/actor and musician Nicholas Oldham. Friday, April 29: Former Nashvillian Randall Parsons, theater designer; New York-based actress Blair Ross, now on tour in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella; and Nashville-based actress and stage manager Shannon Spencer. Saturday, April 30: MAS Nashville's force of nature Megan Murphy Chambers (one of the region's busiest professional actresses); former Nashvillian and First Night Award-winning actress Krys Collins (ACT 1's The Miracle Worker); and former Nashville Shakespeare Festival actor Kraig Kelsey. Sunday, May 1: BWW Nashville Award winning actress Heather Vaughn Alexander; Cumberland County Playhouse veteran actor Terry Schwab; Middle Tennessee State University alum and dancer Caleb Marshall; MTSU grad Meg Davis (Out Front on Main's Rabbit Hole); and First Night Award-winning actress and former Nashville Rep artistic assistant Lauren Shouse, now plying her trade as a director/dramaturg in Chicago.

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 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 22

Encore Theatre Company, Mt. Juliet: Nice Girls Don't, running through May 1. www.encore-theatre-company.org Encore Theatre Company is thrilled to continue our 10th Anniversary season with Nice Girls Don't, written and directed by local playwright and Cumberland University professor Michael Rex. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. An original romantic comedy of mistaken identities - Come see what happens when the person of your dreams turns out to be a walking nightmare! Call (615) 598-8950. Encore Theatre Company is located at 6978 Lebanon Rd, Mt Juliet - just west of Hwy 109.

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.

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 April 28

Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, Nashville: Neil Simon's Rumors, running through June 3 www.dinnertheatre.com Widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world, Neil Simon might well be considered the best comedy playwright in American Theater and Nashville audiences at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre will be able to revel in the coming weeks as one of Simon's best-loved plays is brought to life on the miraculous floating stage by a cast of award-winning actors. Simon's Rumors - directed by Lydia Bushfield - stars Martha Wilkinson, Derek Whittaker, Bradley Moore, Joy Tilley-Perryman, Jenny Norris Light, Chase Miller, Charlie Winton, Linda Speir and Mike Scott, who will "not only keep your side splitting, but front and back splitting," promises a press release from Chaffin's Barn. Wilkinson and Whittaker, who were part of the first Barn cast of Rumors some 25 years ago, return to the venue to take on starring roles in the classic comedy. Showtimes for Rumors are Thursday through Saturday Evenings: Buffet: 6-7:30 p.m., Show: 8 p.m.; Sunday Matinee: Buffet 12 noon, Show: 2 p.m.; Every Thursday Matinee: Doors Open at 11 a.m., with the show at noon. Tickets for Thursday's matinee are only $19 (bring your own lunch or order a box lunch for $8.50 Reservations are required by calling (615) 646-9977.

Opening April 29

Nashville Repertory Theatre's Professional Internship Program, at Nashville Public Television's Studio A: Gruesome Playground Injuries, running through April 30. www.nashvillerep.org Rajiv Joseph's quirky and dark love story of Gruesome Playground Injuries, an engaging drama that follows childhood friends Kayleen and Doug over the course of 30 years of physical and emotional bumps and bruises - will be presented by members of Nashville Repertory Theatre's Professional Internship program April 29-30 at Nashville Public Television's Studio A. In Joseph's play, Kayleen and Doug have an unbreakable bond that is stitched up over 30 years through hospital rooms, nurses' offices and an ice skating rink. Whether they are eight or 38 they always seem to be recovering from some self-inflicted, almost masochistic trauma. They form a unique, but loyal friendship through their pain. This quirky and dark love story will show the connections between physical and emotional injuries, will open your eyes to see how people grow, but sometimes don't change, and how real love and friendship can mend any wound. The story is told through a nonlinear story structure that moves the story along in an extremely unique, yet attainable manner. Nashville Rep's cast for Gruesome Playground Injuries includes Fred Brown (Doug), and Lacy Hartselle (Kayleen). Kate Prosser directs. The show runs Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets are a suggested $10 donation, or $5 for actors and students, and can be purchased online at www.nashvillerep.org or by calling (615) 349-3223. Designers of the production are Corwin Amyx and Erin Murphy (scenic designers), Rebecca Schafer (costumes), Clayton Landiss (lighting), Taylor Russell (sound and scenic charge artist), and Kate Prosser (properties). Technical director is Corwin Amyx.

Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance, at the Belmont Black Box Theatre, Nashville: Red, running through May 1. "There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend... One day the black will swallow the red." Senior Capstone Series performance by Craig Fairbanks in the role of Ken with Jake Perrotti as Rothko, directed by Michael Joiner. Artist Mark Rothko is in his New York studio in 1958-9, has been commissioned to paint a group of murals for the expensive and exclusive Four Seasons restaurant. He gives orders to his assistant, Ken, as he mixes the paints, makes the frames, and paints the canvases. Ken, however, brashly questions Rothko's theories of art and his acceding to work on such a commercial project. Performances are April 29 and 30 and May 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Belmont Black Box Theatre. Admission is free.

Opening May 4

4th Story Theatre at West End United Methodist Church, Nashville: God of Carnage, running through May 15 www.westendumc.org Winner of the 2009 Tony Award and the 2009 Olivier Award, Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage tells the story of what happens when two eleven-year-old boys get into a playground fight before the play begins, bringing together both sets of parents for a meeting to resolve the matter. At first, diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the evening progresses, tensions emerge and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters. Fast, furious and very funny, the show runs without an intermission and could be the quickest 90 minutes you've ever spent in a theater. Not for the pre-teen set, but with the abundance of smart-yet-naughty laughs, it could score with the teenagers. Be aware there is a steady stream of off-color language. The cast includes Adam Horn, Jill Braddock-Watson, Christopher Bosen and Brittany Nelson. Performances are on May 4-7 and 11-14 at 7 p.m., May 8 and 15 at 1 p.m.

Thursday, May 5

Any Song Will Do Cabaret at Cannery Row, Suite 204, Nashville: Roles We'll Never Do, A "Choose Your Own Adventure" Musical Theater Cabaret, featuring Leslie Eiler Thompson (who also directs), Casey Hebbel (who also choreographs) and Tyler Osborne (who is also charming). Curtain's at 7:30 p.m. and this is a pay-what-you-can event for Blood: Water (a community, motivated by the love of Christ, to create lasting change in Africa. The organization serves local leaders and joins them in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises. Since its launch in 2004, Blood:Water has worked alongside more than a dozen African organizationsto bring clean water and HIV/AIDS support to more than 1 million people in 11 countries.) www.anysongwilldo.com.

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. Melissa Williams, longtime Nashville theater veteran, directs the final show of ACT 1's 2015-16 season - Ed Graczyk's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean - running at Darkhorse Theater May 6-21. Williams has assembled a versatile cast to tell a story that's really about change: How some experience it, and some ignore the concept altogether. Her cast includes Adele Akin (a veteran of an earlier Circle Players production of the play) as Juanita, Memory Strong as Mona, Laurel Baker Harrison as Sissy, Anastasia Zavaro as Joanne, Kathleen Jaffe as Stella May, Molly Breen asEdna, William Welch as Joe, Kristin Bunge Parsons as Mona (Then) and Jenni Marie Chemay Cadaret as Sissy (Then). Show dates are May 6-21, at the Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Avenue. Curtain for Thursday-Saturday shows is at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 5:30 p.m. The house opens a half hour prior to curtain. Tickets are $15 each, and can be purchased at the door, or at www.tickets.act1online.com.

Lakewood Theatre, Old Hickory: The 12th of Whatever, running through May 22 www.ticketsnashville.com This modern adaptation of Twelfth Night is set in an American high school at prom season. This comedy tells the story of how Victor, a transfer student, must prove that he is not a spy the only way he knows how. He becomes Chelsea and sets about to help class president, Octavia, win the "man" of her dreams. Friday and Saturday night shows start at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Murfreesboro Little Theatre: Backyard Bard: Romeo & Juliet, running through May 29. www.mltarts.org Murfreesboro Little Theatre proudly presents William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, directed by Shane Lowery and Joseph Stanley. Join us for a wonderful night of Shakespeare under the stars. Hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey legs, pickles, and soft drinks - will be on sale; or - you can bring your own picnic basket - we just want you to come and enjoy the show.The show will run 3 weekends. May 13-May 29. Admission is free and show starts at 7 p.m. The play is set in the roaring '20s, so please feel free come dressed in your favorite 1920's costume.

Tennessee Women's Theater Project, at the Z. Alexander Looby Theatre, Nashville: Women's Work 2016, running through May 22 www.twtp.org The Tenth Annual edition of Women's Work, TWTP's festival and celebration of works created by women. Each year we present the work of women playwrights, poets, singers and musicians, essayists, circus performers, painters, filmmakers, dancers and choreographers and photographers from across Tennessee and across the country. Among the highlights are the now-traditional Mother's Day Poetry reading on May 8. Our always-popular Dance Night is Saturday, May 14. On the closing day, May 22, we'll present a staged reading of a new play commissioned by Tennessee Women's Theater Project: "A Modern Day Quilt," by Becky Wahlstrom. The play is based on the stories of a group of women who have been getting together weekly for some two decades in a studio in Nashville's Centennial Park, working on sewing projects and sharing stories over a potluck meal.

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

Center for the Arts, Murfreesboro: 42nd Street, running through May 22 www.boroarts.org The Center for the Arts presents the wonderful, classic musical 42nd Street, running May 13 - 29, 2016. Come see all the wonderful dancing, laugh at the crazy antics and tap your toes along with the familar songs of this beloved Tony award winning show. Tickets are on sale now at www.boroarts.org or by calling (615) 904-2787, or stopping by The Center for the Arts during our business hours. Prices are $15 for adults; $13 for seniors, students and military; and $11 for children.

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 June 16

Gaslight Dinner Theatre, Dickson: Judy!, running through July 2 www.gaslightdinnertheatre.org This charming musical is dedicated to the woman who came to personify American popular music during the last century. Judy Garland came from rags to riches to become one of the most popular female entertainers in the world. Filled to the brim with Judy's most loved songs like, "Over the Rainbow," "I've Got Rhythm," "The Trolley Song," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "I'm Nobody's Baby," and "You'll Never Be Alone." Judy's inspiring story is the true embodiment of the American spirit, and is sure to inspire and delight audiences of all ages. Linda Sue Simmons Runyeon and Chase Miller bring to life the remarkable journey of the most popular female entertainer of our time.... Judy Garland. Brain Lucas tinkles the ivory as we take a stroll down memory lane with this musical tribute to the Legend and what it took to get there! Tickets are available at (615) 740-5600 or online at www.gaslightdinnertheatre.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