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Friday, June 5, 2015

Voodoo Shakespeare: Stephanie Shine Sets "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the Bayou.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 10:43 AM

Phil Darius Wallace as Oberon, Stephanie Weeks as Titania, and Noah Duffy - COURTESY OF TSC
  • Courtesy of TSC
  • Phil Darius Wallace as Oberon, Stephanie Weeks as Titania, and Noah Duffy

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is reviving one of the bard's best loved comedies, and giving it a distinctly Southern twist. Intermission Impossible asked director Stephanie Shine about the magical elements found in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and how she's used regional music to recontextualize the play's familiar settings and characters. 

Intermission Impossible: Tell me a little bit about your perspective on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how you came to give it a voodoo/bayou twist.

Stephanie Shine: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is play known to many. If it’s not known specifically, it’s known generally. So there’s this sense of familiarity about it. For this production in particular, I wanted to explore the depths of it. Because, I think the general notion, speaking for all of America here, is that it’s a great comedy. And it is. It’s one of the great comedies. But it also has a soul worth mining. And the soul of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of transformation. Shakespeare has all the characters go into a forest. And, as with so much literature, where there is a trial by nature — a trial by forest — you come out changed. Everybody gets to change because of the forest. And, with that in mind, I wanted to emphasize the area of change. That’s where the bayou comes into play because in my mind, and in my imagination the bayou is sultry, ever changing, ever mysterious. And you never quite know if you’re on terra firma or not. And you think about the animals that might be existing in there, and the inherent dangers, and the sounds of the bayou. And the fireflies— it just seemed like a really great place to try yourself. To see if you could do a night in the bayou . And what it would be like coming out the other end.

I like the regional specificity— that it’s a distinctly Southern choice.

For us here in the south the Bayou is familiar ground. The play has so many magical elements to it, and I think the bayou grounds us. Because we understand the setting and we can imagine things unimaginable happening in the bayou.

Noah Duffy at Puck. - COURTESY OF TSC
  • Courtesy of TSC
  • Noah Duffy at Puck.

And we’re familiar with the sounds.

Midsummer it is a very musical play it has lots of music in it and I consider there to be four fairly distinct worlds in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and each of those worlds is represented musically. That's what's fun about having it set in a Southern Louisiana-inspired setting, because the music of that culture so rich. And that's one way to define the worlds— by the sounds that we hear.

How does all of that work?

Part of the comedy is watching how these worlds intersect. There is the world of martial, military law that we have in the court of Duke Theseus, who wooed [the Amazon Queen] Hippolyta with his sword and won her by doing her injuries. Now he’s going to wed her whether she likes it or not. The young lovers experience this martial law when Hermia’s father Egeus comes to Theseus and says, “Well if my daughter won't marry the person I want her to marry, I'm going to call up an old law.” God knows in our country there are so many old laws on the books you don't know exist anymore until someone brings them up. And I kind of think this law is that way as well.

Good point. I think Egeus describes it specifically as the “ancient” law of Athens.

He does. Then we have the young lovers who are looking towards hope, and trying to carve a new existence for themselves. And you've got the immortals— the fairies who exist without having a lot of interaction human beings knowingly. But they certainly wreak havoc on human world. We also have the mechanicals who work with simpleness and duty, trying very hard to produce art that will be pleasing to people. And of course they have a big transformation in the forest as well when Bottom is turned into that donkey.

And each of these groups has its own musical sound.

Our human world setting is the mid-nineteen-forties, which makes sense, coming at the end of a war. So there’s all that wonderful big-band music. And the mechanicals play the music live. All six of them play a variety of musical instruments, and many learned just for this production. The sounds of the mechanical world is early New Orleans Jazz. And then in the forest it's Cajun, Acadian, Creole and all ancient sounds. Who knows how old some of those melodies really are? It’s fun to bring them to life again for the lullaby to Titania and the blessing.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so frequently produced. How many times have you done it?

Actually not too many times given the length of my career and how popular the play is. I did it once when I was 20. I played a fairy. I’ve directed it twice. Once with middle school kids and later professionally. But it's been 17 or 18 years since I've had any in depth contact with the play, which is also a blessing. It's humbling to come back to a play you think you know, and you’ve got almost two decades of life under you, and all of a sudden it's speaking a different language to you. That's why we do Shakespeare. That's why you spend a life with Shakespeare. Although there's a limited number of plays, what they have to offer you is infinite.
G Valmont Thomas (Bottom) and Stephanie Weeks (Titania). - COURTESY OF TSC
  • Courtesy of TSC
  • G Valmont Thomas (Bottom) and Stephanie Weeks (Titania).

Wow. That is unusual. I’d have guessed you would have worked on it many times, and I was hoping for some insight as to how one goes about greeting old friends as strangers.


If it’s not something that I’ve personally been involved with it's not quite an issue. If I’ve done a show several times within recent history— like the Romeo and Juliet that I’ve directed every year for four years — that's a challenge. I have to really think about it. Really take time to figure out what the play is saying this time that is different than even eleven months ago. What's important in the world that the play might address? So it's always topical, always fresh.

Transformation is the thing that really stands out in my mind about Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s first production of Midsummer several years ago. Specifically in regard to the character Puck. The text makes it clear that he’s a shapeshifter, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that fact made so clear as it was in that production, directed by Dan McCleary. You’ve already talked a little bit about transformation, I was hoping you might take a deeper dive on that theme.

The word that Shakespeare uses to describe that is “translated.” At first I thought, “translated?” Are they speaking malaprops? But no. Translation is to change the form. This starts in the forest when Bottom is physically turned into which he behaves. And then he’s changed once again from an actor that was all about, “I” to an actor who is all about, “we.” And as you know, you can’t do theatre if “we” isn’t the active pronoun.

Puck’s feelings about the mortal world are ones of disdain: “Lord what fools these mortals be!” He likes to make your life difficult for humans. But something changes in Puck too. He talks about his transformations and how he'll make himself to look differently and scare people. Then towards the end of the play he's the one who comes out to offer the final blessing and the apology to the audience. So it's within Puck that we see how the fairy world changes its viewpoint about humanity.

When I think about Tennessee Shakespeare, I think about environmental productions. But this time around you’re using the University of Memphis’ theater.

We are not only using the University of Memphis to space but the partnership that came about as a result of collaboration with Holly Lau and the whole theatre department at the University of Memphis, is allowing us to build our set there and out costumes. So we're really in residence right now. It's a beautiful rehearsal situation to have all the elements we need in one space. That’s not always been afforded to this company. It just feels like a dream come true.

Stephanie Weeks at Titania. - COURTESY OF TSC
  • Courtesy of TSC
  • Stephanie Weeks at Titania.

Speaking of transformation, I love environmental theater and have done a lot of it. But sometimes it’s a relief not having to expend so much energy trying to make a viable theater experience a place that was never intended to be a theater.

I have watched Dan McCleary spend so much time and effort doing exactly that. We were constantly inventing a space. Often it can give you marvelous artistic explosions and insights. But sometimes it's so nice to be in a theater and let other elements of your artistry have an opportunity to come to the surface. You know there are only so many hours in a day.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on the University of Memphis main stage June 4-21, 2015

The production’s title sponsor is FedEx, is sponsoring a "Free Will Kids Night" every Thursday. Up to four children under 17 years will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying, attending guardian. Also, family morning matinees will be made available Wednesday mornings at 10:30 am.

Some images and sounds from TSC's 2011 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

RIP: Memphis Actor John Malloy

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 3:13 PM

John Malloy as King Lear (L) with Jazzy Miller. And as Jones (R) in "Cannery Row."
  • John Malloy as King Lear (L) with Jazzy Miller. And as Jones (R) in "Cannery Row."

I'm really going to miss getting the random "catching up" phone call from Memphis actor John Malloy.

Malloy, who passed away this week at the age of 82, was a character actor's character actor, as comfortable on stage as he was in front of a camera. He played one of the lovable bum's in the 1982 film adaptation of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row with Nick Nolte and Debra Winger, and appeared in a number of other films such as Black Snake Moan, Hoffa, and My Blueberry Nights. Malloy also taught theater classes for the University of Memphis' Continuing Education program. " 

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I only had the pleasure of working with Malloy once, in a rough and tumble production of Shakespeare's Henry V, produced in the beer garden of the Tennessee Brewery. The gruff-edged actor loved Shakespeare, and loved acting as much as anyone I've ever seen. He told the best backstage stories and was incredibly patient as a certain young actor (turned theater critic) asked endless questions about McNary Co. Sheriff Buford Pusser and the drive-in movie classic, Walking Tall: The Final Chapter. 

If you don't know about Pusser and the Walking Tall Movies, this is as good a place as any to start. 

In the final installment of the original Walking Tall trilogy, Malloy played Mel, a Hollywood producer who comes to Tennessee to make a movie about Pusser's tragic life and crime-fighting exploits. 

Here's the scene where Mel meets Buford. I especially enjoy how believably Bo Svenson, the actor playing Pusser, delivers the line, "huh?" Enjoy it. And rest in peace John Malloy, you were one of a kind. 


Monday, April 27, 2015

Voices of the South Launches the Mid-South Writer's Lab

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Voices of the South
  • Voices of the South

For 20-years Voices of the South has served up new plays with a distinct Delta drawl. Now the scrappy little company is entering into its third decade with a renewed commitment to the cultivation of new work.

And here's the nifty thing. Because VOTS specializes in narrative performance, they aren't only interested in traditional plays and playwrights. They are also interested in developing work by poets, songwriters, and prose-makers who are interested of seeing their work developed in a theatrical context.

The Mid-South Writer's Lab is being described as an incubator that will provide artists with space, feedback, actors and workshop opportunities. 

And a $200 stipend.




11169979_10153278661129803_2978822094144671073_n-1.jpg

Tennessee Shakespeare Announces New Musical Series

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Rosemary Clooney
  • Rosemary Clooney

Good news for anybody interested in sampling tomorrow's musical theater today. 

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
is partnering with the University of Memphis' Department of Theatre and Dance to present Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress. Showplace Memphis is a new musicals series. It's sponsored in part by Broadway licensing company, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), and will give regional audiences access to new Broadway-bound musicals in various stages of development.

Readings will be staged at the U of M featuring professional casts. 

According to press materials each each musical will be played and sung in its entirety and audiences will be able to interact with the actors and creators immediately following the readings.  

Showcase Memphis Schedule of Musical Readings:

Tenderly 
The Rosemary Clooney Musical
based on the life of Rosemary Clooney
By Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Freidman
Directed by Kent Nicholson
Musical direction by Matt Castle
Title Sponsors: Pat and Thane Smith
Reading: Saturday, May 23 at 7:00 pm



Midsummer Night
A musical loosely adapted from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Book, music and new lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda
Additional music by Gene Lewin
Adaptation conceived and directed by Janet Roston
Musical direction by Ryan O’Connell
Reading: Saturday, June 27 at 7:00 pm



The Oliver Experiment
What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?
Book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon
Music by Jeff Thomson
Reading: Saturday, August 15 at 7:00 pm
University of Memphis Theatre Building Mainstage


Tickets may be purchased by calling 901-759-0604, or visiting www.tnshakespeare.org. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Orpheum Theatre Announces Nominees for the 2015 High School Musical Theater Awards

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 1:06 PM

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School

On Monday, May 11th at 7:00 p.m. the Orpheum Theatre will once again host the High School Musical Awards, celebrating Memphis' best young performers and the teaching artists guiding their development. The ceremony will be hosted by Broadway and TV star Kyle Dean Massey.

The Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards are part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program. Winners of the Lead Actor and Actress categories  compete nationally in the Jimmy Awards held at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. T

And the nominees are...

Outstanding Front of House sponsored by Nolan’s Audiovisual

The Sound of Music, Northpoint Christian School
White Christmas, Southside High School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Beauty and the Beast at St. Mary's

Outstanding Production Materials sponsored by Winston Wolfe

Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Artistic Element

The Parfumerie Shop, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Fiona’s Tower, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
The Gargoyle Statues, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
The Giant, Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
The Waves and Seashore, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
The Bathtub, Jelly Fish, and Umbrellas, Seussical the Musical, St. George’s Independent School

Little Women at Hutchison

Outstanding Chorus
Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Small Ensemble
The Witches, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Three Blind Mice, Shrek the Musical, Millington Central High School
The Bird Girls, Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School
The Jivettes, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
The Delta Nu Sisters, Legally Blonde, Jr, Whitehaven High School
The Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Large Ensemble
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Fame, White Station High School

Outstanding Student Orchestra sponsored by Yarbrough’s Music
Godspell, Jr.,Central High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Fame, White Station High School

Big Fish at GHS.

Outstanding Music Direction sponsored by Hick’s Convention Services

Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Dance Execution
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School

leader_of_the_pack_poster-1.jpg
Outstanding Production Number
Tevye’s Dream, Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
The Speed Test, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General, The Pirates of Penzance, Houston High School
Be Our Guest, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Like Zis, Like Zat, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
River Deep, Mountain High, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Bend and Snap, Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School

Outstanding Hair and Makeup
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Costumes
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Set
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Les Miserables at Collierville High

Outstanding Lighting

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Bartlett High School
The Drowsy Chaperone, Harding Academy
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Technical Achievement
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School

Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre sponsored by Jack Pirtle’s Chicken

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

The Bravo Award
Jonathan Alpizar as Gavroche, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Reagan Hall as Brigitta, The Sound of Music, Northpoint Christian School
Kaitlyn Poindexter as JoJo, Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School

Student Technical Achievement Award sponsored by Memphis Audio
Sean Byrne, Germantown High School, Big Fish
Macy Kloville, Hutchison School, Little Women
Annie Wepfer, Hutchison School, Little Women
Natalie Martin, Southside High School, White Christmas
Patrick Brown, Tipton-Rosemark Academy, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

11_the_wedding_singer_poster.jpg

Student Creative Achievement Award sponsored by The Crump Firm

Donovan Hughes, Bolton High School, Lucky Stiff
Taylor Shennett, Germantown High School, Big Fish
Charlotte Gray, Hutchison School, Little Women
Lauren Hope, Ridgeway High School, Seussical the Musical
Catie Blackwood & Arielle Labilles, St. Benedict at Auburndale, The Wedding Singer
Aidan Cooper, St. George’s Independent School, Seussical the Musical

Outstanding Featured Dancer
Maddie Dunavant in Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
Lexie Lang in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
Kylan Owens in The Wiz, Overton High School
Catie Blackwood in The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jordan Davis in Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School
Sophia Karabell in Fame, White Station High School

Outstanding Featured Actress sponsored by Mark and Jacqueline Barry
Mary Ashley Greene as Fruma Sarah, Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
Avery Blanton as Jolene Oaks, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
Daneka Norfleet as Addaperle, The Wiz, Overton High School
Maddie Arnold as Grandma Rosie, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Kirkland Shular as Linda, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jessi Edgerly as Charlotte, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

ECS Shrek the Musical from John DePaola on Vimeo.


Outstanding Featured Actor sponsored by Mark and Jacqueline Barry

Tyler Gaffney as The Body of Uncle Anthony, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Robbie Ramirez as Luigi, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Brice Boyer as Lord Farquaad, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Caleb Suggs as Karl the Giant, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Will Crowe as Lefou, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Adam Schween as George, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Outstanding Supporting Actress sponsored by Lexus of Memphis
Jasmine Robertson as Rita LaPorta, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Grace Martin as Ilona Ritter, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Tamlyn Sampson as Gary Coleman, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Patsy Detroit as Beth, Little Women, Hutchison School
Gabby Willingham as Darlene Love, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Arielle Labilles as Holly, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Avenue Q, Cordova High School

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Donovan Hughes as Vinny , Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Jake McCutcheon as Enjolras, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Austin Russell as Nicky, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Thomas Truoy as Sammy, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
A.J. Wimberley as Wickham, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy
Noah Haney as Levi, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Lead Actress sponsored by Bill and Cheryl Stegbauer

Parker Chase as Olive Ostrovsky, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Madison Alexander as Amelia, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Kathryn Sterling as Fiona, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Erica Penninger as Millie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
Adele Fish as Jo March, Little Women, Hutchison School
Shelbi Sellers as Elizabeth, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at MUS
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at MUS

Outstanding Lead Actor

Christopher Williams, Georg , She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Mark Elich as Jean val Jean, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Stephen Timberlake as Shrek, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Maclean Mayers as Ed Bloom, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Kylan Owens as Scarecrow, The Wiz, Overton High School
Kyle Van Frank as Robbie, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Outstanding Direction by a Teacher

Karen Dean & Jeff White, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Chris Luter, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Ashleigh Williams, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Jay Rapp, Little Women, Hutchison School
Ryan Kathman, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jenny Madden, Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Outstanding Overall Production sponsored by Gould’s Salons & Spas
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

The Orpheum’s High School Musical Theatre Awards are Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15-$35 and go on sale to the public April 22nd.

Friday, February 27, 2015

MSO Conductor Mei-Ann Chen to Step Down Following the 2015-2016 Concert Season

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 12:36 PM

Mei-Ann Chen - PHOTO BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Photo by Justin Fox Burks
  • Mei-Ann Chen

Mei-Ann Chen, who has served as Conductor and Music Director for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra since 2010, will step down when her contract expires at the end of the 2015-2016 concert season.  

According to a press release issued Fri., Feb 27,  officials from the MSO are currently in discussions about her future role with the symphony as Conductor Laureate.

With her dramatic, dance-like conducting style, Chen is often credited with revitalizing the orchestra, although it's probably more fair to say that she brought her rising star-power to an already innovative orchestra, in the process of revitalizing itself through a variety of artist-led, community building initiatives.  

"Mei-Ann is one of the most in-demand guest conductors for orchestras, and we respect her decision to step away at this time to pursue her many opportunities around the world,” MSO Board Chair Gayle S. Rose was quoted as saying. 

Although it has enjoyed a period of exceptional artistic achievement, he MSO has fallen on hard times and is working to determine the new way forward.

MSO President and CEO Roland Valliere says the 2015-2016 will be dedicated to Chen. 







Friday, February 13, 2015

Memphian Joins the Cast of Broadway's "Les Misérables"

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 1:44 PM

Eleanor Koski, Broadway Bound!
  • Eleanor Koski, Broadway Bound!

Broadway's Les Misérables is welcoming several new young company members including Memphis' own Eleanor Koski

Koski will be performing as a member of the show's ensemble. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Voices of the South Hires a New Executive Director

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 12:58 PM



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Voices of the South starts its second decade with Teddy Eck at the Helm.

Eck, who was announced as the company's new Executive Director earlier this week, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at The New School in New York, NY and his Master of Fine Arts Degree in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Memphis. 

VOTS was founded in 1995 by Alice Berry and Jenny Madden, two U of M grads with an interest in transforming classic Southern literature into narrative theater events. The scrappy troupe has endured, evolved, and is highly regarded for its ongoing commitment to great children's theater and to the development of new, original, and culturally significant work. 




Friday, November 7, 2014

Theatre & Whiskey: Theatre Memphis invites you to taste scotch, and enjoy TINTYPES

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 11:54 AM

tintypeslobbyfull99.jpg

Theatre Memphis is serving up two of may favorite things: Old pop and folk songs from the late 19th and early 20th Century, and whiskey. My only regret is that I can't have both at the same time.

The benefit: TM will make available a rare collection of 10-22-year-old single cask single malt Scotch whiskies on November 13. The artistic programming benefit includes a meal by Memphis chef Erling Jensen. Tickets are $200 per person.  

The show: Yes, Tintypes showcases music by artists like John Phillips Sousa and George M. Cohan. And yes, Theatre Memphis' promotional materials do describe the work as a "timeless musical romp." But don't be fooled.  Mary Kyte, Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle's sonic history lesson  isn't the nostalgia-heavy, flag-waving, post-GOP election sweep musical one might anticipate, given appearances. The acclaimed 1980 musical anticipates the Reagan years, as it explores the effects of economic disparity, and shines light into the darker  corners of the America Dream. It's a nifty piece of musical theater with songs by...

George Evans and Ren Shields...


Scott Joplin...

 Shepard N. Edmonds...

Vincent Scott and Anna Held...



 Bert Williams and George Walker...



And lots, lots more...


Tintypes is directed by Kell Christie and features performances by Courtney Church (Ziegfeld superstar Anna Held), Justin Willingham (as silent film genius Charlie Chaplin), Jessica Spence, as radical firebrand Emma Goldman, Joe Lackie as Bull Moose President Teddy Roosevelt, and Annie L. Strong as Susannah, an American worker trying to make it in harsh environment. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ostrander Winners, 2013-14

Posted By on Sun, Aug 24, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Barry Fuller and Marques Brown in the multiple Ostrander-winning musical Young Frankenstein
  • Theatre Memphis
  • Barry Fuller and Marques Brown in the multiple Ostrander-winning musical "Young Frankenstein"

It was a great night at the Orpheum honoring the best of the best of what Memphis Theater has to offer. I'd initially planned to open this announcement with a big season wrap up, but sometimes it's best to give the people what they want. And I think they want winners.

COLLEGE OSTRANDER AWARD WINNERS
2013-2014

SET DESIGN
Brian Ruggaber Chess U of M

COSTUMES

Amie Eoff Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson McCoy Theatre

LIGHTING
Mandy Kay Heath Chess U of M

PROPS

Kathy Haaga Anton in Show Business McCoy Theatre

MAKE-UP/HAIR

Janice Benning Lacek Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine U of M


MUSIC DIRECTION

Angelo Rapan Chess U of M

SOUND DESIGN

John McFadden Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M


CHOREOGRAPHY

Tracey Bonner Chess U of M

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Léerin Campbell Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson McCoy Theatre

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Christopher Calderazzo Chess U of M


LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Allison Huber Chess U of M


LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Corbin Williams Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson McCoy Theatre

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION
Chess U of M

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Madison Tallant Anton in Show Business McCoy Theatre

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Luke Hefner Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M

LEADING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Katie Marburger Anton in Show Business McCoy Theatre

LEADING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Jon Castro Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M
David Couter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M


LARGE ENSEMBLE (Cast of 13+)

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson McCoy Theatre

SMALL ENSEMBLE (Cast of 12 or less)
Anton in Show Business McCoy Theatre


FEATURED/CAMEO ROLE

Willie Derrick Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine U of M

SPECIAL AWARD FOR THE 2013-2014 SEASON

Jung Han Kim and The Trajedians Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M

BEST DRAMATIC PRODUCTION

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Jordan Nichols Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson McCoy Theatre


BEST DIRECTION OF A DRAMA

Paul Revaz Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead U of M

COMMUNITY OSTRANDER AWARD NOMINEES AND WINNERS
2013-2014

SET DESIGN

Chris Sterling Haint New Moon Theatre Company


COSTUMES

Paul McCrae As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

LIGHTING

Jeremy Allen Fisher Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

PROPS
Ashley Palmer Red The Circuit Playhouse


HAIR/WIGS/MAKE UP
Alexandria Gore, Ellen Inghram and Paul McCrae Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

MUSIC DIRECTION
Renée Kemper Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square


SOUND DESIGN
Zach Badreddine 4,000 Miles POTS@TheWorks

CHOREOGRAPHY

Shorey Walker, Jordan Nichols, and
Travis Bradley Hairspray Playhouse on the Square

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Morgan Howard Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Rob Hanford Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Leigh Eck Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

Marques W. Brown Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis



DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Cecelia Wingate Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION

Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Jillian Barron As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

John Maness Grace The Circuit Playhouse

LEADING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Lena Wallace The Miracle Worker Germantown Community Theatre

LEADING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

S.A. Weakley Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

SMALL ENSEMBLE ACTING (Cast of 7 or fewer)

Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

LARGE ENSEMBLE ACTING (Cast of 8 or more)
Hairspray Playhouse on the Square

FEATURED/CAMEO ROLE

Barry Fuller Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

BEST PRODUCTION OF AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT

Haint New Moon Theatre Company

DIRECTION OF A DRAMATIC PRODUCTION

Jerry Chipman The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

BEST DRAMATIC PRODUCTION

Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

BEHIND THE SCENES AWARD

Cathy and Harold Richardson Theatre Memphis

THE JANIE MCCRARY PUTTING IT TOGETHER AWARD

Debbie Litch

THE LARRY RILEY RISING STAR AWARD

Morgan Howard

THE EUGART YERIAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

John Rone

Tags: , , ,

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Hattiloo Brings Stick-Fly star Ruben Santiago-Hudson to Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Ruben Santiago-Hudson
  • Ruben Santiago-Hudson
The Hattiloo Theatre wants to give local actors a chance to meet, greet, and pick up some tips from a Broadway actor/director who's done notable work in Hollywood too.

Hattiloo is bringing in Stick-Fly star Ruben Santiago-Hudson to attend the show's Memphis premiere. He will host a 2-hour workshop Saturday, September 6th. Tickets are $20/each and will be available on-line. Admission to the workshop is limited.

In addition to appearing in Stick-Fly Santiago-Hudson wrote Lackawanna Blues and adapted it for HBO film. He also appeared on Broadway in Jelly's Last Jam and received the 1996 Tony for August Wilson's Seven Guitars. And that's just a taste of his accomplishments.

To reserve a slot in the workshop, here's your click. programs@hattilootheatre.org

Friday, August 8, 2014

Women's Theatre Festival of Memphis Honors "Camp Logan" Playwright Celeste Bedford Walker Alongside Local Actors, Directors, Choreographers, Producers

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Last night the Women's Theatre Festival of Memphis presented Gyneka Awards to Patricia Bogan, Julia "Cookie" Ewing, Pat Halloran, Debbie Litch, Naomi Moody, Dorothy Gunther Pugh and Celeste Bedford Walker.

Screen_Shot_2014-08-08_at_12.44.39_PM.png

The awards were presented at The Circuit Playhouse on Thursday, August 7. WTFM continues through August 9.

For a complete list of performances and events, here's your click.

The Women's Theatre Festival was founded in 2012 by Memphis actor, playwright and producer Ruby O'Gray who had long dreamed of a way to honor women who've made a difference in theater, both locally and internationally.



Wendy Moten pitches her new recording and WTF Memphis

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Congratulations to All the Ostrander Award Nominees, 2013-14

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

A scene from As You Like It at Theatre Memphis
  • A scene from "As You Like It " at Theatre Memphis

It's time once again for the Memphis theater world's biggest annual party. The 2013-14 Ostrander Awards will be handed out Sunday, August 24th, at 6 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre. For ticket information visit this link.

COMMUNITY OSTRANDER AWARD NOMINEES AND WINNERS
2013-2014

SET DESIGN
Mark Guirguis Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Dan Kopera and Bill Short The Royal Family Theatre Memphis
Chris Sterling Haint New Moon Theatre Company
Jack Yates Harvey Theatre Memphis
Jack Yates Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

COSTUMES
Paul McCrae As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Rebecca Y. Powell Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Rebecca Y. Powell Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Andre´ Bruce Ward The Music Man Theatre Memphis
Andre´ Bruce Ward The Royal Family Theatre Memphis

Les Miserables at Playhouse on the Square
  • "Les Miserables" at Playhouse on the Square

LIGHTING
Jeremy Allen Fisher Jesus Christ Superstar Theatre Memphis
Jeremy Allen Fisher Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Jeremy Allen Fisher Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
John Horan The Diary of Anne Frank Playhouse on the Square
John Horan Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square

PROPS
Betty Dilley The Miracle Worker Germantown Community Theatre
Ashley Palmer Red The Circuit Playhouse
Ashley Palmer and Katharine Stubblefield Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Katharine Stubblefield Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Jack Yates Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

HAIR/WIGS/MAKE UP
Nicholas Bursoni Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Andrew Chandler Frankenstein New Moon Theatre Company
Alexandria Gore, Ellen Inghram and Paul McCrae Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Rebecca Y. Powell and Caleb Blackwell Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Barbara Sanders The Royal Family Theatre Memphis

MUSIC DIRECTION
Gary Beard The Music Man Theatre Memphis
Jeffrey B. Brewer Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Renée Kemper Gypsy Playhouse on the Square
Renée Kemper Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Renée Kemper Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square


SOUND DESIGN
Zach Badreddine 4,000 Miles POTS@TheWorks
Zach Badreddine The Diary of Anne Frank Playhouse on the Square
Zach Badreddine Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Eric Sefton Haint New Moon Theatre Company
Eric Sefton Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

CHOREOGRAPHY
Leah Beth Bolton Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Christi Hall The Music Man Theatre Memphis
Jordan Nichols and Travis Bradley Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Courtney Oliver and Standrew Parker Reefer Madness The Circuit Playhouse
Shorey Walker, Jordan Nichols, and Travis Bradley Hairspray Playhouse on the Square

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Elisabeth Cross Hipp Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Morgan Howard Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Lynden Lewis Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Caroline Simpson Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Jaclyn Suffel Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Gregory Alexander Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Jonathan Christian Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Rob Hanford Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Jordan Nichols Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Kent Reynolds Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Ken Zimmerman Hairspray Playhouse on the Square

Its a Miracle Worker at GCT
  • It's a "Miracle Worker" at GCT


LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Leigh Eck Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Carla McDonald The Great American Trailer Park Musical The Circuit Playhouse Carla McDonald Monty Python’s Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Courtney Oliver Hairspray Playhouse on the Square

LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Bill Andrews Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Justin Asher Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

Marques W. Brown Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Philip Andrew Himebook Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Jordan Nichols Hairspray Playhouse on the Square


DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Scott Ferguson Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Dave Landis Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Gary John La Rosa Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Cecelia Wingate Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION
Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Monty Python’s Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
The Music Man Theatre Memphis
Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Jillian Barron As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Mary Buchignani Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Meredith Julian Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Ellen Saba The Miracle Worker Germantown Community Theatre
Christina Wellford Scott The Diary of Anne Frank Playhouse on the Square

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Stephen Garrett Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Michael Gravois Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Stephen Huff As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Kinon Keplinger The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
John Maness Grace The Circuit Playhouse
The 2014 Ostrander Awards will be presented Sunday, August 24 at 6 p.m. at The Orpheum Theatre.


LEADING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Jillian Barron Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Jessica Johnson The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Karen Mason Riss 4,000 Miles POTS@TheWorks
Christina Wellford Scott The Royal Family Theatre Memphis
Lena Wallace The Miracle Worker Germantown Community Theatre

LEADING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Gabe Beutel-Gunn The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Jerry Chipman Other Desert Cities The Circuit Playhouse
Tony Isbell Red The Circuit Playhouse
Stuart Turner Boeing Boeing Germantown Community Theatre
S.A. Weakley Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

SMALL ENSEMBLE ACTING (Cast of 7 or fewer)
Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Red The Circuit Playhouse
The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

LARGE ENSEMBLE ACTING (Cast of 8 or more)
As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Les Misérables Playhouse on the Square
Monty Python’s Spamalot Playhouse on the Square
Seven Guitars Hattiloo Theatre
Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis

Haint at TheatreWorks
  • "Haint" at TheatreWorks


FEATURED/CAMEO ROLE
Jonathan Christian Hairspray Playhouse on the Square
Barry Fuller Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
James Dale Green Young Frankenstein Theatre Memphis
Jo Lynne Palmer Harvey Theatre Memphis
Kim Sanders Hairspray Playhouse on the Square


DIRECTION OF A DRAMATIC PRODUCTION
Jerry Chipman The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Stephen Hancock Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Jo Lenhart As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

Young Frankenstein at Theatre Memphis
  • "Young Frankenstein" at Theatre Memphis

BEST DRAMATIC PRODUCTION
As You Like It Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
Clybourne Park Playhouse on the Square
Proof Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis
The Submission Next Stage @ Theatre Memphis

BEHIND THE SCENES AWARD
Sameka Johnson Hattiloo Theatre
Cathy and Harold Richardson Theatre Memphis
Andy Saunders Germantown Community Theatre
Katharine Stubblefield Playhouse on the Square
Mystie-Elizabthe Michelle Watson New Moon Theatre Company


THE EUGART YERIAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
John Rone

John Rone (RIGHT) accepts an Ostrander Award with the cast of Pride & Prejudice
  • John Rone (RIGHT) accepts an Ostrander Award with the cast of "Pride & Prejudice"

Continue reading »

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lil Buck's New York Times Close Up

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:56 PM

New Ballet Director, Katie Smythe, with Lil Buck (center) and dancers MK Thinnes and CWebster on the Promenade at New York State Theater after Lil Bucks world premiere with famous Parisian photographer and social advocate, JR.
  • New Ballet Director, Katie Smythe, with Lil Buck (center) and dancers MK Thinnes and CWebster on the Promenade at New York State Theater after Lil Buck's world premiere with famous Parisian photographer and social advocate, JR.

Memphis' own Lil Buck is just about the hottest thing in dance these days. The New York Times has noticed.

At 26, Lil Buck, born Charles Riley, has already carved out a niche that almost no other dancer can fill, bouncing from music videos (that’s him, slo-mo spinning through Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope”) to a Super Bowl halftime show (2012, with Madonna) to Lincoln Center, where in April he was a star soloist in the debut of a ballet by the French artist JR. He introduced mainstream audiences to jookin, a style of street dance born in his hometown, Memphis, whose intricate freestyle footwork has captivated critics.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Coming Soon: Stacey Campfield: THE MUSICAL!!!

Posted By on Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Theres a place for us... Somewhere
  • "There's a place for us... Somewhere"
This is the best news I've heard in a long time.

According to reports from Nashville, Sen. Stacey Campfield, the man recently honored as "Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year," is getting his own musical!

From The Tennessean:

A local theater group, Music City Theatre Company, is planning an "original political satirical show" around one of the state's most outspoken Republican lawmakers. "Casey Stampfield: The Musical" debuts June 27 at Vibe Entertainment Complex on Church Street and runs through July 12, with a special performance on primary day, Aug. 7. Tickets are $9.99.

I'm sure everybody will leave the theater singing, "It Was One Guy Screwing a Monkey," and "Don't Say Gay," but I'm really looking forward to "Shuck & Jive," "Slow Train to Auschwitz," and the big Sex Week dance break.

Okay, so none of those songs are in the show, but here's one that is:

And you can hear all the rest here.

UPDATE: Okay, so apparently there are two, count them, two Stacey Campfield musicals. And that's just Stacey Campfield musicals that we know of. As it happens, the one I linked for sound clips— Stacey Campfield: The Musical— ISN'T the one being performed which is Casey Stampfield: The Musical. It's like a mirror held up to a looking glass reflected in a puddle— I can't tell which way is up.

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