Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'Mas Amor Por Favor' This Weekend at The Theater Bug

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 6:30 AM


MAS Nashville's Mas Amor Por Favor
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-16
Where: The Theater Bug, 2618 Gallatin Pike

It's been almost three years since this quintet of Nashville actress-singers first debuted their so-called MAS (Mutual Admiration Society) performances. The fivesome — Erin Parker, Megan Murphy Chambers, Laura Matula, Melodie Madden Adams and Cori Laemmel — bring a wealth of live musical theater experience to this more personalized cabaret opportunity, easily projecting Broadway-style vocals and a ton of attitude, with honest comical bits thrown in for good measure. This show, with a kind of post-Valentine's Day theme, is advertised as "no filter."

Besides their previous Nashville engagements, MAS last appeared together a little over a year ago at Virginia's famed Barter Theatre. Veteran musical director Stephen Kummer provides the solo piano accompaniment.

Watch a video of the last MAS performance, "A ChristMAS Holiday Hangover," after the jump.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Studio Tenn Theatre Company Lands Permanent Home at The Factory at Franklin

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Studio Tenn Theatre Company continues its impressive growth and movement into the Middle Tennessee entertainment market with the announcement that it will call The Factory at Franklin its permanent home as of its 2014-15 season, commencing in September.

The ambitious, progressive company, under the leadership of Matt Logan and Jake Speck, will also function as a hub for live music events, in addition to the reputable brand of theater that has been the organization's hallmark since its debut production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town at the Loveless Barn in the fall of 2009.

Studio Tenn's initial gypsy phase ended when the organization took up residence at the Franklin Theatre in 2011, though the company has performed on occasion at other outside venues, including TPAC and a memorable production of 12 Angry Men at the Historic Williamson County Courthouse. (Coming this spring, they'll perform a brief run of Les Miserables at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.) The Factory's Jamison Hall, a multi-purpose event facility, will be Studio Tenn's performance space for the start-up, with expansion plans for the future.

This move further reinforces The Factory as a major theatrical destination. Since 2001, the Boiler Room Theatre has been in residence there, presenting a musical-heavy lineup of shows. The BRT venue has been undergoing serious renovations of its own recently, and the company returns to form in May with refurbished front-of-house and backstage areas plus upgraded tech facilities.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Make an Ash of Yourself at Evil Dead: The Musical in Murfreesboro

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Evil Dead: The Musical combines two great things that should be even better together: the toe-tapping tradition of live musical theater, and chainsaws. First produced in 2003 in Toronto, the show transforms the 1981 Sam Raimi shocker about vacationers under siege by the ravenous undead into an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.

But that's not the best part. Brave audience members who sit inside the specially designated "Splatter Zone" will be hosed down nightly with buckets of fake gore — a tradition that continues Thursday night when Murfreesboro's Out Front on Main theater troupe opens the musical at its home near the MTSU campus at 1511 E. Main St. The play runs 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays until Feb. 2; tickets are $15 or $30 for Splatter Zone seating that includes a T-shirt and other goodies.

To quiet all those demons growling in the woods, we asked director Seth Limbaugh a few questions about what drew him to the play, what audiences can expect, and just what that substance is he'll be spraying like Faygo at a Gathering of the Juggalos.

Is this the first local production of the musical, and what made you want to do it?

It is. And as far as I could tell, it's also the first production of the musical in the state of Tennessee. I've wanted to do this musical since I first heard about it back in 2008. I've always been a fan of horror and The Evil Dead trilogy was the first series I remember watching growing up. I've also been involved in musical theater since I was a child. The combination of both of my loves just seemed to great to pass up! Bonus fact: The first Evil Dead movie was actually filmed in Tennessee!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: REPaloud's Grey Gardens at Nashville Children's Theatre, 1/18/14

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM


There were numerous references to kitties, a song about revolutionary costumes, and at least one "I'll shove you under the goddamn bed!" at Nashville Children's Theatre on Saturday night — Tennessee Rep staged a reading of Grey Gardens, an adaptation of the Maysles documentary of the same name, to a fairly packed house.

The play is a musical, which surprised at least two of my companions who were expecting a reading, not a reading with songs. But we were all pleasantly surprised as the exceptional pipes — especially those of Martha Wilkinson and Jennifer Richmond — belted out strange combinations of earnest songs like "The Girl Who Has Everything" alongside campy odes to the Marble Faun and his approval of the way Big Edie does her corn.

I would assume that this is the kind of play that only die-hard fans (I proudly count myself among them) would really appreciate, but several audience members professed an ignorance of the Bouvier-Beales — a problem director Rene Copeland begged them to resolve, citing YouTube as a source for the full documentary (there goes my morning).

The musical, which was first performed in 2006, broke the lives of the Edies into two acts — Act I worked like a flashback to the Beales' salad days of entertaining eligible Kennedys and living like aristocracy, while Act II presented them as they were in the Maysles doc, old, broke but not broken, living in the same mansion with a family of wild raccoons and a million fleas. As my date explained to a Grey Gardens novice, "It's like the darkest possible version of The Gilmore Girls."

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bring Your Own Raccoon: Grey Gardens Reading, Jan. 17-18 at Nashville Children's Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:45 AM


This weekend, REPaloud — which stands for Reading Excellent Plays Aloud, by the way — will do just that, reciting Doug Wright's musical adaptation of the cult classic Maysles Brothers doc Grey Gardens. Wright also wrote Quills, which was adapted into a film starring Geoffrey Rush, and will be at Nashville Children's Theatre for the Saturday reading.

In this 2006 Q&A with New York Magazine, the playwright said that when Albert Maysles gave Little Edie the news that Grey Gardens was going to get the musical treatment, her response was positive. “Oh, that’s glorious," she said, in typical Little Edie bravado. "With all we didn’t have in life, we always had music and song.”

Friday and Saturday's readings start at 7 p.m. at NCT, and the suggested donation is $10, or $5 for students. The cast includes Rona Carter, Rosemary Fossee, Galen Fott Jennifer Richmond, James Rudolph, Charlotte Skaggs, Patrick Waller, Martha Wilkinson and Bobby Wyckoff.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ryman Adds Second Night of Val Kilmer as Citizen Twain

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 12:56 PM

If you couldn't get tickets to Val Kilmer's performance as Mark Twain in his one-man show Citizen Twain Feb. 7 at The Ryman, fear not. He's added a second performance by demand Thursday, Feb. 6.

Tickets are $57-$77 and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday. Full release below.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunday! Sunday! SUNDAY! It's ComptonPALOOZA!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The biggest recent dramatic situation to hold Nashville’s theater community in its thrall happened about a month ago — not on a stage but in real life, when popular and talented actor/director David Compton suffered a scary heart seizure. With the help of excellent care, a new coronary gizmo and his fighting spirit, Compton has rebounded — he opens in Tennessee Rep’s production of A Christmas Story this week — but there are medical bills to be paid, and the ComptonPALOOZA benefit bash 7 p.m. Sunday is all about helping out a friend.

The price of admission includes a performance of Nashville Children’s Theatre’s Schoolhouse Rock Live! with special opening guests Bruce Arntson and Jenny Littleton singing selections from The Doyle and Debbie Show. The $20 ticket also includes The Chaffin’s Barn/Wienerfest/Yazoo VIP All-Access AfterBASH, featuring savory and sweet culinary lagniappes and beer. For tickets, click here or purchase at the door on the evening of the event.

Note: Despite the locale — NCT’s Hill Theatre, 25 Middleton St. — ComptonPALOOZA! is not considered altogether suitable for children.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Val Kilmer in Citizen Twain, Feb. 7 at The Ryman

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Val Kilmer as Mark Twain
  • Val Kilmer as Mark Twain
It was just a couple months ago that Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain Tonight! played the Schermerhorn, and already the ghost of Samuel Clemens is returning to town, this time channeled by Val Kilmer.

Kilmer assumes the persona of the beloved humorist in Citizen Twain, which comes to the Ryman Feb. 7. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m.

Check out Stephen Trageser's story on Holbrook's performance at the Schermerhorn, which includes some commentary on Kilmer's Twain piece, here. And check out a Twain-worthy remark about the whole affair from the Scene's D. Patrick Rodgers here.

We can only imagine what would happen if Holbrook and Kilmer took the stage at once. If ever the Twains shall meet. Bada bing!

Of course, Kilmer is no stranger to Nashville. A couple of years ago, he came to town to star in Harmony Korine's "Lotus Community Workshop," a 26-minute film that was part of an omnibus from the folks at Vice, The Fourth Dimension. (Directors Alexey Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski also contributed shorts.)

Check out "Lotus Community Workshop" after the jump. Kilmer turns in a pretty hysterical performance. Definitely worth watching. The full Citizen Twain press release follows.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Saga Continues: After the Auditions, See Star Wars in 60 Minutes or Less

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Ever ones to smell opportunity, even with all that coffee around, Bongo Java After Hours has the perfect way to unwind after a long day of air-lightsabering and saying, "It's a trap!", or, "Hmm, whatever you're calling The Force in this picture is strong in this one."

After Sunday's Star Wars: Episode VII open casting call — ring a bell? — the theater loft upstairs at Bongo Java's Belmont headquarters is hosting Star Wars in 60 Minutes or Less, a Louisville troupe of five that performs the entire original trilogy faster than it takes Han Solo to do the Kessel Run. Some cast members were coming to audition anyway, so what the hey?

Expect frantic set changes, cheapo props, fly-by-night special effects, rapid-fire dialogue-swapping and role-changing, and a chance to pelt the ensemble with pretend meteors. Tickets are $10 at the door, and show time is 7 p.m. Full information below.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Medium's Message: An Opera Virgin on The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM


For someone who's never been to an opera but loves Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat seemed like the best possible way to introduce myself to the medium. But about five minutes into the Nashville Opera production I began to get worried that the self-seriousness this opera requires of its players might interfere with my ability to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. This is coming from someone who grew up watching Beavis and Butthead, possibly the worst theater-watching model I can imagine. Luckily, as the opera progressed, the novelty of the medium gave way to a real appreciation of its message as it unfolded onstage. And the message, delivered without a wink or a self-conscious nod to the audience, was pure emotion.

Los Angeles-based soprano Rebecca Sjowall, who also appeared at Nashville Opera in The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, played the long-suffering wife from whom the title takes part of its name, and was particularly astonishing in this sphere. At times playful, but mostly heartsick, she was the character the audience empathized with the most. Neither the opera's main character nor its narrator, Sjowall's Mrs. P sang the word “philistine” with such heartbreaking anger-fear that I felt the need to make up a new word to describe it just now. At the performance, all I felt were goosebumps.

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