Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Grand News - New Ballet Ensemble Receives $30,000 Via National Endowment for the Arts

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 3:51 PM

New Ballet Ensemble
  • New Ballet Ensemble
Great news for Memphis' forward-thinking, fusion-oriented classical dance troupe. New Ballet Ensemble & School (NBES) has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The money awarded to NBES will enable the continuation of dance residency programs in the Orange Mound community.

“Organizations such as New Ballet Ensemble & School are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired,” Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, wrote in a prepared statement.

Via press materials:

"The NEA grant award will support NBES’ residency programs in Orange Mound schools, including Dunbar Elementary. NBES has been working with Dunbar Elementary since 2007, and NEA support has helped grow the partnership over the years with tuition-free, after-school classes in ballet, hip-hop, Flamenco, and West African dance. NEA funding will also support students who are moving from Dunbar into the NBES studio program on scholarship for advanced training.
In 2019, NBES will graduate three seniors who began their training at Dunbar in 2007 and advanced through the studio program. These three students collectively earned $4,138,188 in scholarships from the various colleges they applied to, and all received full scholarships to their colleges of choice, including Vanderbilt University, Christian Brothers University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. "

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Popular Children's Theater Stage Door Productions Announces Shut Down

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2019 at 4:11 PM

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Kroc Center
UPDATE: The Kroc has responded to questions. Says understanding differs from social media accounts but does not say how. A lightly edited version of their statement is quoted at the bottom of this report.

Stage Door Productions, a 501C3 company that has hosted classes and camps and produced kid-sized Broadway musicals at the theater housed inside Memphis' Kroc Center, announced it would end operations Monday, May 13th. The announcement arrives in the wake of public allegations related to the procedural handling of a harassment complaint.

"We want each and every one of you to know how incredibly difficult this decision is to make," an email to the Legally Blonde cast and camp attendees read. The announcement came with a charge to the company's young participants: "Feel every emotion freely, but only for one hour. After that let your anger go."
"I can confirm Stage Door Productions programming will cease on Monday, following the final performance of Legally Blonde Jr. this Sunday," Stage Door co-founder Brandon Kelly wrote in an email. Kelly said he would consider sharing more information at a later time. "Right now, we will be focusing our love, passion, and support entirely on the kids in our final show. They are the ones most affected and need our support and complete attention."

Allegations regarding the mishandling of a harassment complaint appeared on Facebook last week. They were widely shared, generating community support and backlash. Less than a week after the original May 3rd posting, Stage Door shared a letter that appears to say there was no official knowledge of the complaint prior to the recent Facebook posting. "Since this has been brought to our attention, we have had an internal and external review done at Stage Door," the communication stated.  Stage Door's Facebook page is now offline. The website is live but inactive. 
The Kroc Center has not yet responded to The Flyer's request for information. Pages related to the facilities art programs and to Lindsay and Brandon Kelly are not currently live.

According to the most recent information posted at, Stage Door had posted regular losses of up to $10,000 in net assets since 2015 when that value was pegged at $91,425.

Latest Update: The Kroc responds:

"For the past five years, The Salvation Army Kroc Center – Memphis has partnered with Stage Door Productions (SDP) to provide quality theatre opportunities for the youth in our area. SDP, an independent non-profit, worked to provide a meaningful arts experience for its participants. Kroc Center members valued SDP’s programming expertise and SDP valued the Kroc’s outstanding facilities.

Last week, we were made aware of a social media post with troubling accusations within SDP of sexual harassment and abuse between two underage cast members from 18 months ago. We acted immediately—launching an internal review and ensuring the incident allegation was reported to Tennessee’s Child Protective Services."

"The Salvation Army has a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abuse or harassment. Our staff are well trained in appropriate behavior and how to spot signs of abuse in others. Though SDP is a separate entity, we hold them to the highest standards for safety and professionalism.

Our understanding of events vary from those reported in social media. We are still conducting our review and will fully cooperate with the authorities in investigation. Because those referenced are minors and this is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment about specifics. Our prayers are with each one and we ask you to join us with your prayers.

Today, SDP announced it is ceasing programming effective Monday, May 13, 2019. While we are ending our work with SPD, the Arts remain a vital and vibrant pillar of the Kroc’s purpose. We are looking at ways to expand our existing arts education offerings. We know the value the Arts have on overall student achievement and want to do our part to build tomorrow’s leaders. We consistently look for ways to improve member experiences, program quality, and program offerings. Just as we strive to inspire excellence, so do we strive to be excellent." 

This post will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Steven McMahon Named Artistic Director Of Ballet Memphis

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2019 at 6:44 PM

Steven McMahon and Dorothy Gunther Pugh at grand opening of new Ballet Memphis headquarters. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Steven McMahon and Dorothy Gunther Pugh at grand opening of new Ballet Memphis headquarters.
“I long ago recognized that I needed to groom the right person to guard what we have built and what we value at Ballet Memphis,” Ballet Memphis's founding CEO Dorothy Gunther Pugh was quoted as saying in a prepared statement about the dancer and choreographer who will succeed her as artistic director. The person in question is Ballet Memphis's 34-year-old Associate Artistic Director Steven McMahon.

“Steven has come up through this organization and grown as a dancer and dance-maker; he’s the best choice as well as the right choice," Pugh concluded.

McMahon, who has choreographed more than 30 works for Ballet Memphis including, favorites like The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan, officially assumes his new position July 1st. Pugh will continue her work at Ballet Memphis as CEO.

Video: McMahon discussed choreographing a past production of Romeo & Juliet for Ballet Memphis:

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Quark Theatre Announces New Season, New Nonprofit Status

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2019 at 11:54 AM

Sims v the Detective in Quark's "The Nether"
  • Sims v the Detective in Quark's "The Nether"
In only a few short seasons, Quark Theatre has built a reputation for producing thoughtfully staged work that's conceptually ambitious, intellectually challenging, and technically do-able: little plays full of big ideas. Keeping with the Quark tradition, Season Four is exploring themes like the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning of meaning, and what all that means. It marks the company's fifth year of making theater together, and its first as a nonprofit.

September, 2019 
WAKEY, WAKEY by Will Eno

Wakey, Wakey is a funny, sad, tragic, comic examination of life and the leaving of it. In the first line of the show, GUY, the protagonist, seems to rouse from a nap and says “Is it now? I thought I had more time.”

And then we’re off to an examination of GUY’s life as he comes to the end of it. But it’s not a wake we’ve come to attend, but rather a celebration of GUY’s life, and OUR lives, too. A funny, thoughtful, at times tearful examination of what it means to be human.

The New York Times called “A glowingly dark, profoundly moving new play.”

March, 2020
A NUMBER by Caryl Churchill

When an adult son confronts his father about the reality behind his existence and identity, a dark world of truths, half-truths and lies is exposed...and nothing will ever be the same. The son learns he is but one of a number of clones, each with his own distinct personality and life. When multiple versions of a person exist, how can he be sure the love of his father is real?

The New York Times called it “A gripping dramatic consideration of what happens to autonomous identity in a world where people can be cloned.”

Quark's next show is Radiant Vermin. The comedy by Philip Ridley opens March 15th. 

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Jitney, Fun Home Take Top Honors: Ostrander Winners, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 9:07 AM

Fun Home at Playhouse on the Square
  • Fun Home at Playhouse on the Square
This season, Hattiloo completed August Wilson's entire century-cycle with a first-rate production of Jitney, Wilson's requiem for gypsy cab drivers working Pittsburgh's Hill District. In the musical category, Ostrander liked Playhouse on the Square's Fun Home, a sophisticated musical adaptation of comic book artist Alison Bechdel's traumatic childhood. 

College Division

Set Design
The Wild Party - Brian Ruggaber, U of M

Costume Design
The Secret in the Wings - Becca Bailey, U of M

Lighting Design
The Secret in the Wings - Nicholas F. Jackson

Music Direction
Nine - Jason Eschhofen, U of M

Nine - Jill Guyton Nee

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Hiawartha Jackson, Southwest

Leading Actress in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Jordan Hartwell, U of M

Supporting Actor in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Tyler Vernon

Leading Actor in a Drama
Theophilus North - Ryan Gilliam, McCoy Theatre, Rhodes

Supporting Actress in a Musical
Violet - Destiny Freeman, Rhodes/U of M co-production

Leading Actress in a Musical
Violet - Jenny Wilson

Supporting Actor in a Musical
Violet - Jason McCloud

Leading Actor in a Musical
Violet - Deon'ta White

Featured/Cameo Role
Violet - Jaylon Jazz McCraven

Large Ensemble
Nine - The entire cast of ladies

Small Ensemble
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Ciara Campbell, Jhona Gipson, Rashidah Gardner, Mary Ann Washington, Hiawartha Jackson

Excellence in Direction of a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Danica Horton

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Violet - Karissa Coady

Best Production

Ostrander Nominees and Award Winners 2018 Community and Professional Division

Excellence in Set Design
Tim McMath, Fun Home, Playhouse on the Square

Excellence in Costume Design
Amie Eoff, Shrek, Theatre Memphis
Shrek at Theatre Memphis - JOEY MILLER
  • Joey Miller
  • Shrek at Theatre Memphis

Excellence in Props Design
Betty Dilley, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Germantown Community Theatre

Excellence in Hair/Wig/Makeup Design
Buddy Hart, Rence Phillips, Charles McGowan, Shrek

Excellence in Sound Design
Joe Johnson, Eurydice, New Moon Theatre Company

Excellence in Lighting Design
Zo Haynes, Fun Home

Excellence in Music Direction
Jeffrey Brewer, Drowsy Chaperone, Theatre Memphis
Falsettos, Next Stage, Theatre Memphis
  • Falsettos, Next Stage, Theatre Memphis
Excellence in Choreography
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Drowsy Chaperone

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Erin Shelton, All Saints in the Old Colony, POTS@TheWorks
Jessica “Jai” Johnson, Ruined, Hattiloo

Best Leading Actress in a Drama
Maya Geri Robinson, Ruined

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
John Maness, All Saints in the Old Colony

Best Leading Actor in a Drama
Greg Boller, All Saints in the Old Colony

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carla McDonald, Fun Home

Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Breyannah Tillman, Dreamgirls, Playhouse on the Square

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Napoleon Douglas, Dreamgirls

Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Justin Asher, Shrek

Best Featured Performer in a Drama
Jamel “JS” Tate, Jitney, Hattiloo

Best Featured Performer in a Musical
Annie Freres, Shrek
All Saints in the Old Colony: Greg Boller, John Maness - CARLA MCDONALD
  • Carla McDonald
  • All Saints in the Old Colony: Greg Boller, John Maness

Excellence in Direction of a Drama
Jeff Posson, All Saints in the Old Colony

Best Production of a Drama

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Dave Landis, Fun Home

Best Production of a Musical
Fun Home

Gypsy Award
Christi Hall

Larry Riley Rising Star
Breyannah Tillman

Behind the Scenes
Andy Saunders.

Best Original Script
All Saints in the Old Colony POTS@TheWorks

Best Production of an Original Script
All Saints in the Old Colony

Annie Freres in Shrek
  • Annie Freres in Shrek

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It's Time for Ostrander Nominees, 2018!

The Memphis Theater Awards are Aug. 26, at The Orpheum

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Dreams, Saints, Fences
  • Dreams, Saints, Fences
Congratulations Memphis Theater people — especially this season's nominees! Ostrander season, 2018 has officially begun.

Tickets are available at this link. Additional details can be found here. Thanks as always to Memphis magazine and ArtsMemphis for making things happen. And your nominees are...

College Division

Set Design
The Wild Party - Brian Ruggaber, University of Memphis
The Secret in the Wings, University of Memphis - Andy Bleiler
Violet - Montana Pugh, McCoy Theatre, Rhodes in collaboration with the U of M

Costume Design
The Secret in the Wings - Becca Bailey
Nine - Jennifer Ammons, University of Memphis
The Servant of Two Masters - jennifer ammons

Lighting Design
The Secret in the Wings - Nicholas F. Jackson
Nine - Anthony Pellecchia
Violet - Emily Murphy

Music Direction
Nine - Jason Eschhofen
Violet - Tracy Thomas
The Wild Party - Jacob Allen

The Wild Party - Jill Guyton Nee
Nine - Jill Guyton Nee

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Hiawartha Jackson, Southwest
The Servant of Two Masters - Jasmine Robertson
Cabs, Ogres, Fun
  • Cabs, Ogres, Fun
Leading Actress in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters, Jordan Hartwell
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Jhona C. Gipson
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Rashidah Gardner

Supporting Actor in a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Toby Davis
The Servant of Two Masters - Tyler Vernon
The Secret in the Wings - Kyle Buchanan

Leading Actor in a Drama
Theophilus North - Ryan Gilliam, McCoy Theatre, Rhodes College
The Servant of Two Masters - Blake Currie

Supporting Actress in a Musical
Nine - Brittni Taylor Rhodes
Violet - Destiny Freeman
The Wild Party - Emily Collins

Leading Actress in a Musical
The Wild Party, Kennedy Staiger
Nine, Ellie Boisseau
Violet, Jenny Wilson

Supporting Actor in a Musical
Violet - Jason McCloud
Nine - Nathan Morton
The Wild Party - Christian Boyd

Leading Actor in a Musical
Violet - Deon'ta White
The Wild Party - Jacob Clanton
Nine - Tyler Vernon

Featured/Cameo Role
Violet - Jaylon Jazz McCraven
The Secret in the Wings - Blake Curry
The Secret in the Wings - Levarius Goods

Excellence in Direction of a Drama
The Servant of Two Masters - Danica Horton
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress - Thomas King

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Nine - Stephen Hancock
Violet - Karissa Coady
The Wild Party - Mark Schnitzler

Best Production
The Servant of Two Masters

Community and Professional Division

Excellence in Set Design
Ekundayo Bandele, Jitney, Hattiloo
J. David Galloway, Eurydice, New Moon
Jack Yates, Drowsy Chaperone, Theatre Memphis
Jack Yates, Shrek, Theatre Memphis
Tim McMath, Fun Home, Playhouse on the Square
Dragons, Gods*, Modernity
  • Dragons, Gods*, Modernity
Excellence in Costume Design
Amie Eoff, Drowsy Chaperone
Amie Eoff, Shrek
Kathleen Kovarik, Dreamgirls, Playhouse on the Square
Lindsay Schmeling, Perfect Arrangement, Circuit Playhouse
Patricia Smith, Jitney

Excellence in Props Design
Aubanita Kirk, Perfect Arrangement
Betty Dilley, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Germantown Community Theatre
Jack Yates, August: Osage County, Theatre Memphis
Jack Yates, Shrek
Katharine Hughen, 9 to 5, Playhouse on the Square

Excellence in Hair/Wig/Makeup Design
April Rose Korpitz, Eurydice
Buddy Hart, Drowsy Chaperone
Buddy Hart and Rence Phillips, 42nd Street, Theatre Memphis
Buddy Hart, Rence Phillips, Charles McGowan, Shrek
Lindsay Schmeling, Perfect Arrangement

Excellence in Sound Design
Carter McHann, Crib, POTS@TheWorks
Carter McHann, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse
Eric Sefton, Shrek
Joe Johnson, Eurydice
Zachary Badreddine, Jitney

Excellence in Lighting Design
Jeremy Allen Fisher, Drowsy Chaperone
Jeremy Allen Fisher, Shrek
Mandy Kay Heath, Eurydice
Justin Gibson, Once
Zo Haynes, Fun Home

Excellence in Music Direction
Jeffrey Brewer, Drowsy Chaperone
Jeffrey Brewer, Shrek
Nathan McHenry, Dreamgirls
Nathan McHenry, Fun Home
Nathan McHenry, Once

Excellence in Choreography
Christi Hall, 42nd Street
Ellen Inghram & Jared Johnson, Falsettos, Next Stage, Theatre Memphis
Kim Sanders, Fun Home
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Drowsy Chaperone
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Shrek

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Erin Shelton, All Saints in the Old Colony POTS@TheWorks
Jessica “Jai” Johnson, Ruined, Hattiloo
Kell Christie, Othello, New Moon
Kim Sanders, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Circuit Playhouse
Kim Sanders, Perfect Arrangement

Best Leading Actress in a Drama
Anne Marie Caskey, August: Osage County, Theatre Memphis
Jamie Boller, Shakespeare in Love, Playhouse on the Square
Jessica “Jai” Johnson, Fences, Theatre Memphis
Maya Geri Robinson, Ruined
Morgan Watson, Sunset Baby, Hattiloo

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Bailey Dumlao, Lost in Yonkers Germantown Community Theatre
Benjamin Greene, Fences
Bertram Williams, Ruined
John Maness, All Saints in the Old Colony
Justin Raynard Hicks, Fences
Tommy “TC” Sharpe, Jitney

Best Leading Actor in a Drama
Greg Boller, All Saints in the Old Colony
John Maness, Othello
John Maness, The Flick, Circuit Playhouse
Lawrence Blackwell, Jitney
Marques Brown, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Annie Freres, Drowsy Chaperone
Brooke Papritz, Fun Home
Carla McDonald, Fun Home
Heather Zurowski, Fun Home
Sarah Johnson, Fun Home

Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Breyannah Tillman, Dreamgirls
Emily Chateau, Falsettos
Gia Welch, Drowsy Chaperone
Lizzie Hinton, Once
Lynden Lewis Jones, Shrek

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Cordell Turner, Dreamgirls
Jimmy Hoxie, First Date
Joshua Pearce, Falsettos
Kevar Maffitt, Shrek
Napoleon Douglas, Dreamgirls

Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Justin Asher, Shrek
Stephen Huff, Fun Home
Jason Spitzer, Drowsy Chaperone
Conor Finnerty-Esmonde, Once
Cary Vaughn, Falsettos

Best Featured Performer in a Drama
Ann Marie Hall, Shakespeare in Love
Greg Fletcher, August: Osage County
Jamel “JS” Tate, Jitney
Jason Spitzer, Shakespeare in Love
The Stones, Eurydice

Best Featured Performer in a Musical
Annie Freres, Shrek
Breyannah Tillman, Drowsy Chaperone
James Dale Green, Once
Jason Eschhofen, First Date, Germantown Community Theatre
Tamara Wright, 9 to 5

All Saints in the Old Colony
Fun Home
Perfect Arrangement
Myths, Sports, Sunsets, Chaperones
  • Myths, Sports, Sunsets, Chaperones
Excellence in Direction of a Drama
Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Ruined
Jamie Boller, Eurydice
Jeff Posson, All Saints in the Old Colony
Steve Broadnax, Jitney
Tony Isbell, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, Circuit Playhouse

Best Production of a Drama
All Saints in the Old Colony
Perfect Arrangement

Excellence in Direction of a Musical
Cecelia Wingate, Shrek
Dave Landis, Fun Home
Jerry Chipman, Falsettos
Jordan Nichols, Dreamgirls
Jordan Nichols, Once
Travis Bradley & Jordan Nichols, Drowsy Chaperone

Best Production of a Musical
Drowsy Chaperone
Fun Home

Best Original Script
Some Day for a Crown
All Saints in the Old Colony

Best Production of an Original Script
Some Day for a Crown
All Saints in the Old Colony

Once, Perfect, Flicks, and more Flicks
  • Once, Perfect, Flicks, and more Flicks
* Totally not nominated for anything. But look at that set! Check those lights! And remember, to check back with Intermission Impossible for Ostrander-related features including memorials, an interview with lifetime achievement honoree Tony Isbell, as well as picks, pans, and "Who got robbed?!?!


Friday, July 20, 2018

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Announces 11th Season — Brave New World

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 9:46 AM

TSC at the Dixon
  • TSC at the Dixon
Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC) has dubbed its new season, "Brave New World," and considering the moment, that sounds about right.

Memphis' only professional, classically bent troupe has spent the last decade wandering about East Memphis and Germantown as peripatetic tenants. The company is currently occupying a considerable property of its very own — the building left behind when Ballet Memphis moved to Overton Square.

According to TSC founder Dan McCleary the company is: "determined to create a classical playing space that is unique in Memphis, our state, and in the southeastern United States. It will be flexible, comfortable, reverberant with natural materials, and it will be able to open out through our facility’s walls in order to host our 400-seat gala as well as rent out to other parties through the year. We are creating a festive, classical, workhorse of a playspace that will educate our children, train tomorrow’s actors, and never have a line at the bathrooms!”

There's still a lot of renovation in the works, but little by little all the pieces are falling into place. The 11th season launches with Two Gentlemen of Verona, a comedy of love and friendship gone awry. That's followed by Macbeth, Shakespeare's macabre tale of greed and ghosts. Major productions end with a revival of As You Like It, the first play TSC ever produced. The season continues with the latest installment of the company's popular Southern Literary Salon, and its tenth Broadway gala, showcasing a yet-to-be-announced headliner.

From TSC's season announcement:

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series

by William Shakespeare

directed by Stephanie Shine+

September 8-29

sponsored by Evans/Petree, P.C.

75-minute running time

It’s free, fun, fast, and for everyone! Last season’s inaugural Shout-Out Series returns by popular demand with 11 performances at 10 outdoor/indoor locations throughout Shelby County. Ideal for families and picnics, this quick-fire version of Two Gents provides a rare opportunity to laugh at Shakespeare’s first comedy – and perhaps even his very first play.

He takes a well-known comedy of a love triangle and re-shapes it into a love rectangle, introduces strong female characters (one of whom takes on Shakespeare’s first “pants role” before the more famous Viola and Rosalind do), creates wise-cracking servants Speed and Launce, and even adds bandits to the mix. But for all that, the play remains famous for one particular role: Crab the dog. Even as the story ranges from the shocking to the hilarious, Crab sits non-plussed.

No tickets or reservations needed. Patrons are encouraged to come early for available seating.

September 8 at 2:00 pm
Stax Amphitheatre
(Open Rehearsal)

September 8 at 6:00 pm
Orange Mound Community Center
(Open Rehearsal)

September 14 at 6:00 pm
Collierville Town Square

September 15 at 2:00 pm
Germantown Library

September 15 at 6:00 pm
Loflin Yard

September 21 at 6:00 pm
Beale Street Landing

September 22 at 2:00 pm
Wiseacre Brewery

September 22 at 6:00 pm
Overton Square at the Chimes Square Amphitheatre

September 28 at 6:00 pm
International Harvester Managerial Park

September 29 at 2:00 pm
Benjamin Hooks Public Library

September 29 at 6:00 pm
Overton Square at the Chimes Square Amphitheatre


by William Shakespeare

directed by Dan McCleary

October 18 – November 4

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) production

sponsored by C. Cato Ealy

The Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor Stage at TSC

In his horrific, poetic tragedy, Shakespeare begins with a man “too full of the milk of human kindness” and concludes with “the grace of grace.” In between, with alarming speed and majestic verse, he reveals an evil not in our stars nor gods, but from the most frightening source: our own humanity. A play famous for its witches and blood is never more rousing than when it prompts Macbeth’s conscience to speak and act.

A leader lusting for power believes he is above the law of humans, morality, and God. His atrocities will be pardoned, he believes. For his own prosperity, he claims all people and the world will give way, that he may lie, that he may kill, that he is impenetrable. But Shakespeare revels in pitting the man persistently against his own better angels.

Veterans Paul Kiernan* and Caley Milliken* return to TSC to play the Macbeths, with Dave Demke*, Gabriel Vaughan*, Michael Khanlarian, Claire Hayner, Nic Picou, and Blake Currie. The full cast will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are $39. The October 18 Preview performance is $19. October 25 and November 1 are Free Will Kids’ Nights: children 17 years and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian (call the Box Office to secure Free Will tickets). Seniors (62+): $34. Students (18+): $19. October 19 is Opening Night, which welcomes patrons to a post-show reception with the actors. Thursday-Saturday performances are at 7:00 pm; Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm.

General Admission/Free Parking. All performances take place at TSC’s new home, located at 7950 Trinity Road, Memphis 38018-6297. Tickets are on sale now at and (901) 759-0604.

As You Like It

by William Shakespeare

Elizabeth Mainstage Rep

directed by Dave Demke

dance choreography by Caley Milliken

November 29 – December 16

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA*) production

Sponsored by Pat and Ernest G. Kelly, Jr.

in The Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor Stage at TSC

In his comedic masterwork, Shakespeare boldly reinvents his secret personal loves for the stage. There is his Dark Lady, his handsome Rival Poet, and his mother Mary Arden. In exile in the Forest of Arden are the singular creations of Rosalind, Touchstone, and Jaques (“All the world’s a stage…”). The result of the city-dwellers mixing with those of the country might otherwise have proved a gender-bending, female-driven, frothy scandal on the Elizabethan stage were it not for the revelations of heart and humanity in the woods – a scandal-plagued world righted.

In nature, Shakespeare’s characters discover little use for the restrictive laws of the court and societal forms. The wild wood reminds us it is un-natural not to evolve, that clinging to the status quo imperils us. Shakespeare’s reward for the courage of his new characters is a surprise visit of spirituality in Arden where opposite worlds are united.

The cast includes Caley Milliken*, Paul Kiernan*, Gabriel Vaughan*, Michael Khanlarian, Merit Koch, Nic Picou, Kilby Elisabeth Yarbrough, Claire Hayner, Shaleen Cholera, Carmen-maria Mandley, Marlon Finnie, Stuart Heyman, and Zach Williams. The full cast will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are $39. The November 29 Preview performance is $19. December 6 and 13 are Free Will Kids’ Nights: children 17 years and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian (call the Box Office to secure Free Will tickets). Seniors (62+): $34. Students (18+): $19. November 30 is Opening Night, which welcomes patrons to a post-show reception with the actors. Thursday-Saturday performances are at 7:00 pm; Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm.

General Admission/Free Parking. All performances take place at TSC’s new home, located at 7950 Trinity Road, Memphis 38018-6297. Tickets are on sale now at and (901) 759-0604.

Southern Literary Salon and Brunch

Boats Against the Current: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

curated and directed by Stephanie Shine+

Sunday, January 27 at Noon

at The Memphis Hunt and Polo Club

Sponsored by Anne O. Keeney in memory of Mr. Joseph Orgill, III

Join us for jazz, brunch, and the writings of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald acted out in the beautiful ballroom of the Polo Club. When the “golden girl” of Montgomery, Alabama, met St. Paul’s party-penning author, a romance as complex and unpredictable as the new jazz age would light America on fire. F. Scott and Zelda would create self-reflective literary works so clear of form and period as to place them in the vanguard of what we now call the Jazz Age and of the Lost Generation: The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise, The Last Tycoon, and Save Me the Waltz.

The elegant brunch buffet and cash bar opens at Noon with seating through 1:30 pm. TSC actors will read and act the Fitzgeralds’ works from 1:30-2:30 pm. Tickets are $55 and include all but the cash bar. Attire: cocktail/business casual. Limited seating. Host members: Margaret and Owen Tabor.

Tenth Annual Broadway Gala Benefitting TSC’s Education Program

Join us in the spacious ballroom and lobby of the Memphis Hilton on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 pm for an Elizabethan boardwalk, fun festivities, auctions, dinner, open bars, and a brilliant Broadway headliner to be announced shortly.

Ten-seat tables are now available. Single tickets are on sale now through February 21 for $100. Single tickets purchased after February are $125. Attire is semi-formal and cocktail.

Special Student Morning Matinees (flexible start times) of Macbeth and As You Like It are offered to school classes at just $10 per student. Macbeth matinees are October 23, 24, 30, and 31. As You Like It matinees are December 4, 5, 11, and 12. These matinees are made possible by the Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Memphis Actor/Educator Greg Krosnes Dies

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 10:34 AM

Greg, in his element. - MCCOY THEATRE, RHODES COLLEGE
  • McCoy Theatre, Rhodes College
  • Greg, in his element.

Is it okay to say that? Can I start a tribute that way? Because the f-bomb has been exploding in my mouth since Wednesday, when I received an early a.m. text message alerting me to the untimely, and unimaginable, death of Memphis actor and educator Greg Krosnes. Angry fucks, disbelieving fucks, resigned fucks — all kinds of fucks sputter out of my mouth, reminding me of when Greg and I were freshmen together at Rhodes College where our acting teacher Cookie Ewing made all of her beginning acting students say fuck on the first day of class. It was a profane, profoundly funny icebreaker with an underlying message: We’d be called on to say much harder things than that on stage someday — in life too. What I need to say right now is so much harder. Memphis has lost an amazing talent. I have lost a friend.

Nobody loved harder, hugged tighter, laughed deeper, or brought more life to his work than Greg Krosnes, who died in his sleep this week. He was 50.

We’ve never been besties, as they say, but Greg and I were brothers, onstage and off. We made our post-high school debut together in a Betty Ruffin-directed production of The Rivals at Rhodes College. But we weren't rivals, we were instant partners and collaborators who would eventually co-develop a senior project. Greg was always the handsome leading man to my brooding villain. He dug Abba and was the first person to volunteer in fight choreography workshops. I was the guy who’s a little too into the Dead Kennedys and way too eager to volunteer thoughts on Patrice Pavis’ Languages of the Stage.
When you're not an Addams. - THEATRE MEMPHIS
  • Theatre Memphis
  • When you're not an Addams.
I worshiped silent film comic Buster Keaton. Greg — one of the greatest physical actors and comedians I've ever known — could actually do the death defying stunts. He was famous for hanging lights without the aid of a ladder, swinging across the grid like a furless monkey, high above the floor of the McCoy Theatre’s black box. He’d effortlessly glide from bar to bar singing, or cracking jokes, or reciting lines from his favorite films, especially The Princess Bride. Golden-haired, with a mischievous,  nearly maniacal grin, it wasn’t difficult to look up and imagine the Dread Pirate Roberts himself, swashbuckling his way through the rafters in search of his Buttercup.

Greg wasn’t playing at being the good guy, he was the good guy, and he was good at it, too. He was good at everything — acting, singing, dancing. He could fight, direct, design, light— you name it. If it happened in a theater, he could do it and better than most. Greg had special affinities for physical comedy and musical theater, and Memphis audiences may remember him best as Tom Sawyer in the regional premiere of Big River or Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors. He was one of Mamma Mia’s three potential dads, and the “normal” dad from the “normal” family in Theatre Memphis’ anything-but-normal production of The Addams Family. I’ll always remember him best as the disillusioned protagonist of Arthur Miller’s post WWII drama All My Sons, because I can never forget what it felt like playing George to his Chris and looking into his eyes as the character began to crack — to lock onto those aching blue peepers as they filled up with uncertainty and anger and so many unspoken fucks, and to know what it meant to feel safe and supported. To feel it down deep in my shoes.
All My Sons
  • All My Sons
All My Sons
  • All My Sons
Greg’s greatest role was the one he played offstage. As an educator he infected the students he encountered with his love for stagecraft in all of its many manifestations. After earning a master’s degree from the University of California at Irvine, he returned to Memphis to teach — first at Rhodes, later at Arlington High School.

Greg was a longtime judge for Memphis’ Ostrander Awards and we would meet occasionally and sit together on the back row of some local theater or other. This was usually a random occurrence, almost never planned but always welcome. Because it was like school had never ended, and we’d never been apart. A conversation that started in Tuthill Hall in the fall of 1985 always picked up right where it had left off. A good conversation, spirited and full of learning and laughter. A conversation that ended sweetly, but never concluded.

The last time Greg and I spoke I reminded him of the time he and Ann Sharp saved my skin on stage when I understudied Herr Zangler in On the Razzle and wound up going on after only one rehearsal. Things were going brilliantly till, in one scene, I completely lost my way. Panic took over as I repeated the last line I could remember like a broken record. Greg and Ann took charge and walked me through all the rest without missing a beat or a laugh. But the man who could recite the lines to every movie he’d ever seen front to back swore he couldn’t remember any time I’d been anything shy of perfect — and of course he couldn’t remember the bad times. Greg was loved so much because he loved so much.
Fables for Friends
  • Fables for Friends
I know I’ve spilled a bunch of words here, but only the first one came easy. If it offended anybody, I’m sorry, but it’s all I had for the longest time. It may be all I have left when I'm finally done here. It's not like we ever met up for beers anymore. Or margaritas. Or coffee, even. But I haven't fully come to grips with the idea that I'll never see him sitting on the back row of TheatreWorks underneath the lighting booth. I won't be able to rib him about stealing "my seat." There will be no more manly hugs that go on and on without ever wearing out their welcome. We'll never do that "one last show" we so often talked about. 

It's a cliche and as a critic I shouldn't indulge or encourage. But never hesitate to tell friends you love them. Even if you've just said it, go on ahead and say it again. It beats the fuck out of the alternative. 
  • Fam.
Greg's family will receive friends on Sunday, July 8th from 2-4 p.m. with the Memorial Service to follow immediately at 4 p.m.

All services will be held at Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery, 5668 Poplar Ave.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Halloran Centre Announces Supremely Cool 2018-19 On Stage Series

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 12:37 PM

Kisses from Bettye LaVette
  • Kisses from Bettye LaVette

The Halloran Centre's diverse 2018-19 On Stage series includes the award-winning Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehaving, a visit from classic soul artist Betty LaVette, a monthly jazz series curated by Kirk Whalum, Arthur Miller's evergreen drama, The Crucible, and those are just a few of the headliners.

In a field that runs the gamut from Great Balls of Fire curiosities like Dennis Quaid and the Sharks to soul royalty like original Supreme Mary Wilson, and chestnuts like an evening of Gilbert & Sullivan favorites, I'm probably most excited about LaVette, who starred in the Broadway hit Bubblin' Brown Sugar and whose early recordings showcase the talents of a group of Memphis artists that came to be known as The Dixie Flyers.

LaVette started recording in Detroit, 1962. She charted R&B hits with  "My Man — He's a Lovin' Man", "He Made a Woman Out of Me," and one of my favorite singles, "Let Me Down Easy." (Though, this studio performance is also fantastic).

"I'm not searching for anything," LaVette told The Flyer. In a 2011 interview, she described her long and winding career as a satisfying one. As soon as "My Man" hit she rolled out of Motor City on tour with headliner Ben E. King and an up-and-comer named Otis Redding. The Scene of the Crime, her collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers, had earned a Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues performance and introduced the veteran performer to a whole new generation of audiophiles.

"Old movies are my thing," LaVette said, beginning her life story with  "One scene that used to make [her] cry every time.

"You know the scene where somebody's flying somewhere and you see the plane in the sky and the names of the cities flash up on the screen? New York, Paris, and London. That's the scene that always made me cry, because my friends had been to all those places and I hadn't." That's all past tense now.

"So many people have asked me, 'What was it like to cut a record when you were only 16?' And I tell them that in 1962 in Detroit, that's just what you did. Everybody had a record or was cutting a record," LaVette said.

Fans were loyal, but fame was elusive. LaVette's thankful. "I met a better class of people," she says. "People who didn't want something from me."

Love her.

And now, here's the rest of the season...



Saturday, August 18 Rodney Crowell

Friday, September 7 Rhonda Vincent and the Rage

Saturday, September 29 Dennis Quaid and the Sharks

Friday, October 12 Dougie MacLean

Saturday, October 20 Matt Stansberry & The Romance

Saturday, November 3 Bettye LaVette

Friday, November 30 Music of the Knights


Saturday, January 26 Mary Wilson

Saturday, February 2 Jim Brickman, “Share the Love” Tour

Saturday, March 2 Dustbowl Revival

Saturday, March 16 Benise FUEGO! Spirit of Spain (two performances)

Saturday, April 13 Carlene Carter

Saturday, April 27 The Orbert Davis Jazz Ensemble


Saturday, November 17, 2018               
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (two performances)

Saturday, February 16, 2019                   
National Players in The Crucible (two performances)

Saturday, March 30, 2019                       
New York City Gilbert & Sullivan Players in the Wand’ring Minstrels, Pirates of Penzance, and an Evening of Gilbert & Sullivan Favorites


Sunday, October 7, 2018 with Lindsey Webster
Sunday, December 2, 2018 with Jonathan Butler
Sunday, February 3, 2019 TBA
Sunday April 7, 2019 TBA

Monday, March 26, 2018

Voices of the South Announces Fringe Festival Lineup

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Berry & Madden
  • Berry & Madden
There are all kinds of fringe festivals big and small. A local fringe festival like the one Voices of the South is producing this spring, is an opportunity to sample a whole season's worth of independent performance in only a weekend or two.

Fun fact: Voices was born 22 years ago when Jenny Madden and Alice Berry were developing Southern narrative theater to take to the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. This year Berry, Madden and the rest of the company will bring a taste of Edinburgh to their hometown with The Memphis FRINGE Festival, a two weekend event highlighting a diverse slate of area actors, movers, writers, and storytellers working just outside the mainstream.   

Here's The Memphis FRINGE Festival lineup.

The Laramie Project with Central High School

Fri., April 13 @ 7pm; Sat., April 14 @ 6pm; Sun., April 15 @ 5:30pm

In October 1998 Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tied to a fence, beaten, and left to die alone on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. Five weeks after this attack, members of the Tectonic Theatre Group traveled to Laramie to conduct interviews with the residents. They used these conversations to draft The Laramie Project, a narrative portrayal of life in Laramie the year after the murder. Sadly, many of the issues raised by Shepard’s brutal murder have not gone away in the twenty years since. Central High School’s theatre program is pleased to present an abridged version of this powerful play.

Stories in the Water with Latrelle Bright

Fri., April 13 @ 8pm; Sat., April 14 @ 7:30pm; Sun., April 15 @ 2:30pm

Stories in the Water explores deeply rooted relationships black people have with our most precious resource. From the shore of the vast ocean to the “community” swimming pool, a woman leads an expedition through the memory water holds. Leaving the safety of solid ground, water engulfs her, carries her across space time and delivers her home again.

The Feeling is Mutual with Sarah Ledbetter

Fri., April 13 @ 9pm; Sat., April 14 @ 9pm; Sun., April 15 @ 1:30pm

THE FEELING IS MUTUAL is a one woman show that creator Sarah Ledbetter really, really hopes you’ll like. It’s about gravity and other pesky inevitables. It involves dancing, talking, and thinking. It is somewhat challenging for the audience member in that it makes some pretty wild connections between different things, and is not always a display of virtuosity. It is, rather, a display of daring and sometimes mistaken efforts for the purpose of sharing with you, the audience, what it feels like to be dancing in front of a group of people who deserve to see something really beautiful happen.

Melanie with Myesha Williams

Sat., April 14 @ 11am; Sun., April 15 @ 4:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ 11am

Melanie tells a story of a strong lady who visits home after being adopted as a child. While reuniting with her grandmother, Melanie rediscovers a book filled with stories of her past grandmothers’ lives, reminisce unwanted feelings that she had as a child before adoption, and seek understanding for her upbringing. Melanie learns the expanded definition of unconditional love as she forgives her family and connect back with her roots.

Squaring Up: Project 1

Sat., April 14 @ Noon; Sun. April 15 @ 3:30pm; Sat. April 21 @ 1:30pm

Project 1 and Thistle & Bee hope to act as catalysts leading to a community that is aware of the human sex trafficking issue, and ready to take action to support services that help victims recover from the trauma. At the end of each performance, audience members are invited take part in an immersive artistic co-creation experience and a talk-back to process the performance and discuss how community members can work to help end sex trafficking in Memphis. Net ticket proceeds will be gifted to Thistle & Bee and the Lisieux Community.

The Cabin by Adam Remsen

Sat., April 14 @ 1:15pm, Sat., April 21 @ 3pm; Sun., April 22 @ 7:15pm

Quark presents The Cabin, an original play by Adam Remsen. Hilarity erupts as a brother and sister learn the dark secrets of their deceased mother's troubled past. Laugh yourself silly as two siblings delve deep into their family's unsettling history. This heart-wrenching family drama will leave you in stitches! A harrowing laugh riot!

The Sound of Cracking Bones with Jason Gerhard

Sat., April 14 @ 2:30pm, Sun., April 15 @ 7:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ Noon

The Healing Power of JC with Sara Kaye Larson

Sat., April 14 @ 3:45pm; Sun., April 15 @ 6:30pm; Sun., April 22 @ 4pm

The Curator with The Perry Library of Theatre

Sat., April 14 @ 5pm; Sat., April 21 @ 8:15pm; Sun., April 22 @ 5pm

THE PERRY LIBRARY OF THEATRE presents an original play by E. Warren Perry, Jr., The Curator. This one-act play grapples with the results of applying postmodernism and historical revisionism to a museum’s collection, to its logical and uproarious extreme. Set in a fictional southern museum, curator Dr. Ronald Saulsbury fights new museum influences and his axe-wielding young assistant to try to prevent the annihilation of every real artifact in the collection – and history itself.

Far Away by Caryl Churchill; Directed by James Kevin Cochran

Sun., April 15 @ 8:30pm; Sat., April 21 @ 7pm; Sun., April 22 @ 6pm

Joan wakes up in the middle of the night and sees something she’s not meant to see. She’s convinced to keep a secret that will forever alter the course of her life. Caryl Churchill’s brief and chilling Far Away paints a not so-far-away future where fear of “the other” rules supreme, and beauty, politics and violence strike an uneasy kinship. Confronting our deepest fears, Far Awaydepicts a chilling world where everyone and everything is at war, and not even the birds in the trees or the river below can be trusted. Whose side is the right side?

Sinners on a Southbound Bus with Danica Horton

Fri., April 20 @ 7pm; Sat., April 21 @ 5:30pm; Sun., April 22 @ 2pm

An evening bus ride from Montgomery to Dothan, Alabama; two men on the run– but was their action a sin or a virtue? This dark one-act explores power, morality, fear, and the ghosts we leave behind.

Please note: Strong language and violence. Not suitable for children.

Rebound with Jill Guyton Nee

Fri., April 20 @ 8pm; Sat., April 21 @ 4pm; Sun., April 22 @ 3pm

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Five women tell stories of harassment and abuse; Playhouse on the Square won’t release the results of sexual misconduct investigation.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 1:01 PM

Jackie Nichols - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Jackie Nichols

Call it a #Metoo moment. Call it the “Weinstein effect,” a recently coined term inspired by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s lurid story and used to describe the watershed moment when women collectively stood up to sexual predators in positions of power and said, “no more.” Call it whatever you want. Now that Playhouse on the Square has completed its independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at Playhouse on the Square — and possible abusive behavior by the theater’s founder Jackie Nichols in particular – women who’ve contributed to that investigation want their stories told. And want them to matter.

On Dec. 1, 2017, Angela Russell posted an explosive allegation on her Facebook page against Nichols. She accused him of sexually abusing her in the 1970s, while he was married to her mother, Diana, his first wife. The abuse allegedly happened over a three-year period starting when she was only 6 years old. In a statement published by The Commercial Appeal, Nichols flatly denied Russell's allegations.

Russell, now 49, is the owner of Underground Art, a 25-year-old tattoo studio in Cooper-Young. She says she’s been trying for decades to get Nichols to take accountability for what he allegedly did. Her claim is backed by a high school classmate who remembers hearing the story from Russell in the 1980s, and by other friends who say Russell told them about it in the 1990s.

A month after that post appeared on Facebook, a group of 20 Playhouse on the Square employees, spearheaded by two company members who are no longer with the organization, interrupted a board meeting to make a statement and present a list of demands.

“Playhouse stands on a national stage,” the statement read. “Our actions will be an example to other artists and organizations in Memphis and around the country. We want to send a strong message: ‘Not here. Not ever.’ The people in this room today have a responsibility to make that principle a reality.”

Demands included the “immediate suspension of Jackie Nichols pending a full investigation,” and for the board to “additionally look for other individuals or incidents that may not already have been brought to light.”

On January 5th, Nichols took a voluntary leave of absence. A week later, Jennifer S. Hagerman of the Burch Porter & Johnson law firm was named to investigate complaints against Nichols and unknown others, per the employee statement. A separate review of policies and procedures was also announced.

A little more than two months later, on March 13th, Nichols resigned his position as executive producer. A statement from the Playhouse board made no mention of the investigation and praised the outgoing leader’s unparalleled service to Memphis theater.

Playhouse’s refusal to release the Burch Porter & Johnson report has not been well received by some of the women who met with Hagerman. In addition to Russell, the Flyer has interviewed four other women who spoke to the investigators and alleged sexual harassment by Nichols: Louisa Koeppel, Alice Raver, and two women who asked to have their identity protected for personal and professional reasons. Here are their stories.

When Louisa Koeppel read Angela Russell’s Facebook post last fall, it brought back a memory of being driven home one night in the 1980s by Nichols after she'd been baby-sitting at his house.

“Jackie had been drinking,” Koeppel recalls. She says she remembers feeling her weight pressing against the passenger door while he said things such as, “Too bad you’re the babysitter,” and “You’re starting to look like a woman.” She says she was scared enough to consider opening the car door and rolling out of the slow-moving vehicle.

Koeppel, now 45, is a dancer with Project: Motion and member of Hutchison’s fine arts faculty. She didn’t want to share her story on social media as Russell had, but she felt compelled to speak to the investigator. Her father, Fredric Koeppel, formerly The Commercial Appeal’s food and culture writer, also remembers the night in question.

"One night Louisa came into the house very upset,” he wrote in a statement supporting his daughter’s story. Louisa told her father that Jackie had “hit on her” in the car. “He put his arm around her and tried to kiss her,” Koeppel's statement continues. "Jackie is a longtime acquaintance of mine, whom I see out and about occasionally. I never brought up the issue of his misconduct with my 13- or 14-year-old daughter, but every time I saw him, I thought about what he had done."

Alice Raver says she thought of Playhouse on the Square as her “safe space” when she was a teenager. The West Memphis native, now working as an actor in Nashville, says she still remembers it that way. Her parents argued at home, she says, and the theater was where she went to get away from it.

“It was glorious being part of Playhouse on the Square, in spite of what Jackie did,” she says.

As a teenager in the 1970s, Raver began doing youth theater at Circuit Playhouse. Raver says she was impressed by Nichols’ theater operation because his company was producing edgy plays like When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder while other theaters around town were mounting musical confections like Brigadoon. Raver was eager to do more around the theater, and when opportunities to help out with lighting, set construction, and box office work presented themselves, the 15-year-old jumped at the chance.

“I had keys,” she says. “I felt so privileged to have that responsibility.”

Raver says she can’t remember the first time Nichols was inappropriate. She says there were stolen kisses and comments about her body that happened when they were alone together, and that they could be usually be diverted with mild resistance. Like the keys she carried, and the responsibilities that went along with them, she says the attention felt like validation, bolstering the esteem of an awkward teenager with acne and braces. “I was flattered that he showed an interest,” she says. “Maybe he thought I was cute.”

Raver says the kisses and comments eventually became less frequent and stopped when she took a break from the theater to attend college.

Two other women who spoke to the investigator also shared their stories with the Flyer but asked that their names be withheld for personal and professional reasons. The first was 14 and doing youth theater with Circuit Playhouse when, according to her account, Nichols asked for help taking costumes to the costume shop.

“I was gathering costumes when he came up to me and started kissing me on the mouth,” she says. Having very little experience kissing at that point in her life she initially responded by kissing back. A moment later she pushed him away asking, “Do you have any idea how old I am?” When she told Nichols, he allegedly responded saying, “You don’t have to mention this to your mother. “

The last person to speak to the Flyer before publication tells a story much like all the rest. She says the groping began at 15. Sex was allegedly solicited when she was 17.
Jackie Nichols’ contributions to the performing arts and culture in Memphis are difficult to overstate. Loeb Properties may have brought Overton Square back from the brink of demolition, but Nichols and Circuit Playhouse Inc. (CPI) literally set the stage for the now-thriving entertainment district’s resurrection and revitalization.

Nichols launched his company in 1969. In 1975, he created a new flagship theater, opening Playhouse on the Square on Madison Avenue. In 2010 he moved Playhouse out of its second home in the old Memphian Theatre just off the northwest corner of Cooper and Union and into a custom-built, $12.5 million, performing arts facility across the street.

Nichols was also instrumental founding TheatreWorks and The Evergreen Theatre, a pair of performance spaces made available for smaller companies to co-occupy. These venues have enabled the growth of independent theater, comedy, and variety arts scenes, enjoyed by thousands of Memphians today.

Playhouse’s theater education program is a powerhouse, reaching 30,000 children annually. Its leaders have a strong history of child advocacy and responsible training.

For these reasons and others, many people — especially theater people — are grateful for everything Nichols has accomplished in Memphis. Playhouse on the Square has grown from a tiny regional theater into a professional company with enviable physical resources. It’s the kind of resounding success that’s hard to argue with — the kind of success that sometimes makes dissenting voices hard to hear.

“I am proud of what we have built together,” Nichols wrote in his March 13th letter announcing his resignation, citing his theater’s $3 million annual revenue and its 40,000 yearly attendance. “I have reached the point in my life where it is important to me to share the insights I've gained and lessons I've learned with my colleagues and peers so that I may contribute to the professions that have given me so much happiness and fulfillment.”

In a separate media release also dated March 13th, Playhouse on the Square announced that interim executive producer Michael Detroit would officially assume Nichols old job full time. In a statement to the Commercial Appeal Nichols said not conducting an investigation into his conduct would be “irresponsible,” but his March 13th resignation/retirement announcement did not mention the investigation or its findings.

The women who spoke to the Flyer said their interactions with the investigator were professional and thorough, but Russell questions why the results of the investigation have not been made public.

“This absolutely lacks accountability, culpability and transparency,” Russell wrote in response to Tuesday’s announcements. “There is no mention that the other women who've come forward were also underage when they were abused. There is no mention of any allegations against other members of the organization. There is no mention of complicity by other members of the organization.

“We will continue to pressure Playhouse to release that report, to take accountability,” she concluded.

Russell’s announcement apparently runs counter to attitudes at Playhouse on the Square. When asked about the silence in regard to Hagerman ’s investigation, Playhouse board member and media consultant David Brown said there will be no summary report forthcoming.

“There will be no release of findings,” Brown wrote, responding to an email from the Flyer. “Playhouse never said it would publicly release a report.

“I can tell you that the last alleged event was from the 1980s, nothing in the past 34 years,” he continued. “[Nichols] denies all of the allegations that came up during the investigation."

The #eyesonplayhouse hashtag Russell uses hasn’t exactly caught fire, but it only takes a little social media searching to locate negative threads about POTS on the internet. The commenters' concerns revolve around a lack of transparency and an inability to determine what problems, if any, may have been identified by the investigation, and whether or not Nichols' decision to leave the organization — a decision that hasn't been officially acknowledged as being connected to the investigation — is part of a meaningful solution. The fact that POTS did not acknowledge its investigation in media releases regarding the 49-year-old institution’s historic change of leadership does nothing to allay concerns that problems, if they exist, may be related to a culture inured to those types of actions, rather than to a specific individual.

Maybe all this is simply the Weinstein effect. Maybe it’s social media’s ability to keep unpopular ideas moving around the internet when legacy media isn’t paying attention. However we choose to label this particular cultural moment, one thing is certain: These are no longer the kinds of concerns that go gently into the night when prominent men retire.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Playhouse on the Square Founder Steps Down Following Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 2:21 PM

Jackie Nichols - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Jackie Nichols
Playhouse on the Square founder and executive producer Jackie Nichols has retired* following an investigation into sexual misconduct according to a report by The Commercial Appeal.

Nichols' statement of retirement:

"My colleagues and I founded this company 49 years ago because we loved great theatre and we believed that our hometown of Memphis deserved a place where great theatre would thrive. In the last several decades, Playhouse on the Square has evolved from this simple notion into one of the most successful performing arts organizations in the country, with annual gross revenues approaching $3-million and more than 40,000 audience members attending our 16 yearly productions. Our education and professional training programs have given rise to multiple generations of performers, designers, administrators, and artists of all disciplines. From our home in Overton Square, we have driven a modern renaissance of Midtown and now anchor one of the most successful economic and community development projects of the last several years. I am proud of what we have built together.

Several years ago, I began a discussion with my family about what the next chapter of my career might include. My mentor and friend Andrew Clarkson believed that all of us have an obligation to 'learn, earn, and return;' that is, we should work hard to learn as much as we can about our chosen career path, make an honest living in that field, and then give back to the communities that make our success possible. I have reached the point in my life where it is important to me to share the insights I've gained and lessons I've learned with my colleagues and peers so that I may contribute to the professions that have given me so much happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, today I am resigning my position as Executive Producer of Playhouse on the Square so that I may devote my full energies and attention to consulting for the arts and nonprofit sectors.

I am more excited about where Memphis and its amazing arts community are going than I have ever been. I look forward to doing whatever I can to continue that momentum and I am excited about what the future holds... Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to serve, and for the many incredible moments — onstage and offstage — that we have shared together."

The Flyer has been following this story from the beginning. We've interviewed some of the people who spoke to the investigator and will have a more detailed report soon.

*Note: This post has been modified to reflect an inaccuracy. The media release was finally delivered along with the note "You have used the wrong word in your lede. Pay attention. He didn’t resign. He retired. There is a difference." We regret any inaccuracy, although the initial report did reflect actual language used in the quoted text above. More to come.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Report on Playhouse investigation may arrive as soon as Monday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 5:59 PM

The results of a two-month-old investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Playhouse on the Square founder and executive producer Jackie Nichols will be made public soon according to a  consultant* handling news media contacts on behalf of the organization. Possibly as early as Monday, March 12th.

On January 5th, Playhouse on the Square announced that Nichols, 70, would take a leave of absence until the investigation was complete. From the media release:
The Executive Committee of Circuit Playhouse Inc. today announced that Executive Producer Jackie Nichols is taking a leave of absence pending an investigation of a sexual misconduct allegation against him, which he denies. This allegation is unrelated to the operations of Playhouse on the Square. Our board of directors take this matter seriously and will appoint an independent investigator to investigate the allegation. 
On January 12th, POTS named the investigator, Jennifer S. Hagerman of the Burch Porter and Johnson law firm. It was also announced that a review of policies and procedures would be conducted.

The investigation into Nichols' conduct was triggered when the now 49-year-old daughter of his first wife posted detailed allegations on Facebook, describing events dating back more than 40 years. Since that time, more adult women have come forward and spoken to the investigation with allegations of misconduct that occurred when they were still minors.

The Flyer has identified and spoken to three. All have described their contact with the POTS investigator as being professional and satisfactory.

According to longtime associates, POTS has a strong, decades-old track record of arranging child-advocacy training for staff working with its Summer Conservatory and other youth programs. Similar training has not historically been required for all employees.

Last week Playhouse on the Square announced its 50th anniversary season.

*Note: This report has been updated to correct an inaccuracy.

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Theatre Memphis, Playhouse on the Square Announce 2018-19 Seasons

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 3:10 PM

Theatre Memphis and Playhouse on the Square have announced their 2018-2019 seasons. Local theater lovers can look forward to a number of regional and world premieres in addition a handful of popular favorites and certifiable classics.

With Louisa May Alcott adaptations coming to both POTS and Theatre Memphis we can expect a lot of Little Women on Stage.


Ragged newspaper boys take on the newspaper industry in a nostalgic reminder of how we used to think organized labor was awesome...
•Disney’s Newsies August 24 – September 16, 2018

The shape-shifting, blood-sucking aristocrat hunter becomes the hunted...
•Dracula October 12 – 28, 2018

The original nightmare before Christmas...
•A Christmas Carol, November 30 – December 23, 2018

A beloved story about childhood, race, justice and its double in the American South —
•To Kill a Mockingbird, January 18 – February 3, 2019

The founding fathers sing about the weather (it's hot), death (it's sad), and an economic system built on molasses, rum, and slaves...
•1776, March 8 – 31, 2019
If a jerky celebrity has an accident at your party, maybe they should convalesce elsewhere. Think Stephen King's Misery in reverse — but funny-ish...  Add glamor.
•The Man Who Came to Dinner, April 26 – May 12, 2019

John Waters' 16-magazine-inspired valentine to big hair, cool R&B, and an ultimate, kid-led triumph over white assholes.
•Hairspray, June 7 – 30, 2019

NEXT STAGE at Theatre Memphis

The classic tale of an a not quite elderly British butcher meeting a no longer young waitress, receptionist, assassin etc. Uncertainty happens...
•Heisenberg — September 21 – October 7, 2018

A perennial favorite about teenage awkwardness and spelling...
•The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, November 2 – 17, 2018
Size matters? A new adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic...
•Little Women, February 8 – 24, 2019

Sarah Ruhl's Pulitzer finalist about a brazillain housecleaner who'd rather be doing standup comedy...
•The Clean House, April 5 – 20, 2019
Meanwhile, at...


Gentlemen fall in love and become homicidal in the highly theatrical...
•A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder — August 10th – September 2, 2018
Speaking of love and murder, how about an epic mystery that begins when a boy finds his dog has become the victim of murder most foul?
•The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time — September 21 – October 7, 2018

The story of a little boy who won't grow up...
•Peter Pan — November 16th – December 30th, 2018

Until she does, of course.
•For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday — November 30th – December 22, 2018

Life, love, and silliness go on and on and on in...
•Tuck Everlasting — January 18th – February 9th, 2019

But the line “Your wedding is my funeral” comes from another show called...
Significant OtherMarch 1st – March 24th, 2019

And as long as we're talking about life old chum, whether it be everlasting and bittersweet or short, brutish and cruel, it's only a...
•Cabaret — May 3rd – May 26th, 2019

Also, kids have superpowers and we'd all do well to remember that.
•Matilda — June 21st – July 14th, 2019


Wolves, Wall Street and making money off...
Junk August 24th – September 9th, 2018

"Something something something," mumbled Jo lying on the floor...
•Little Women: The Broadway Musical — October 5th – October 28th, 2018

Much like Richard Nixon (and the current White House resident)...
•Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook — November 23rd – December 23rd, 2018

Lynn Nottage takes on deindustrialization in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama...
•Sweat — January 25th – February 17th , 2019

I can't even with...
•Madagascar: A Musical Adventure — March 15th – April 7th, 2019
Big Brother's watching. Listening. Mining your data. Etc. Shame we don't adapt Brave New World as often as we adapt...
•1984 — April 19th – May 12th, 2019

Elvis + Drag = Dang, what took you so long?
•The Legend of Georgia McBride — June 7th – June 30th, 2018


•Back When Mike Was Kate —January 4th – January 27th, 2019

World Premiere

•The Miraculous and the Mundane  — July 12th – July 28, 2019

World Premiere

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Hamilton" is coming! Orpheum Unveils 2018-19 Broadway Season.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM

  • Orpheum Theatre Group
Spoiler alert: We've known Hamilton was going to be part of the Orpheum's 2018-2019 season for a while now. Now we know the rest of the story — and there are some nice surprises.

From the media release:

LOVE NEVER DIES September 4-9, 2018

This story of boundless love, full of passion and drama, follows Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, one of the most successful musicals of all time, which has now been seen by more than 130 million people worldwide and is the winner of over 50 international awards. The ultimate love story continues in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spellbinding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and The Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island. In this new, electrically charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar,

but he has never stopped yearning for his one true love and musical protégée, Christine Daaé.

SCHOOL OF ROCK October 9-14, 2018

SCHOOL OF ROCK is a New York Times Critics’ Pick and “AN INSPIRING JOLT OF ENERGY, JOY AND MAD SKILLZ!” (Entertainment Weekly). Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage. Vanity Fair raves, “FISTS OF ALL AGES SHALL BE PUMPING!”

LES MISÉRABLES November 27-December 2, 2018 (SEASON OPTION)

Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an unforgettable story of heartbreak, passion, and the resilience of the human spirit. Featuring the beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars," “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck. “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1).

WAITRESS January 15-20, 2019

"THE WOMEN OF WAITRESS ARE CHANGING BROADWAY!" (Time Magazine). Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam), choreography by Lorin Latarro (Les Dangereuse Liasons, Waiting for Godot) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland). "It's an empowering musical of the highest order!" raves the Chicago Tribune. Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. "WAITRESS is a little slice of heaven!" says Entertainment Weekly and "a monumental contribution to Broadway!" according to Marie Claire. Don't miss this uplifting musical celebrating friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.

ON YOUR FEET! February 12-17, 2019

From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. ON YOUR FEET! takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet. Directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and an original book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), ON YOUR FEET! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century — and one of the most inspiring stories in music

“An entirely fresh, funny, and gorgeous new production. A REASON FOR CELEBRATION!” – New York Magazine.

Tony®-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family. Featuring the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life,” FIDDLER ON THE ROOF will introduce a new generation to this uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy! To love! To life!
ANASTASIA June 4-9, 2019

Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical ANASTASIA is on a journey to Memphis at last! From the Tony Award®-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family. ANASTASIA features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) with direction by Tony Award® winner Darko Tresnjak.

HAMILTON July 9-28, 2019
HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.

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