Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a city to make really brilliant theatre scene. Just think of London, Paris, Moscow, New York. Nashville.
Everything about the city of Nashville recommends it as the next chapter in the history of the American theatre.
Long before the entertainment industry got here, Nashville was know as The Athens of the South as the Southern city with the most universities- and it's our university theatre departments that are really fueling this Nashville theatre fever - especially Belmont and Lipscomb, who not only put on awesome shows but also know how to get the audiences in to see them. Instead of treating the theatre departments like "this is where we keep the weird kids," these two fine schools are putting their young actors and designers on the front line where most universities put the football and basketball teams.
Long before country music came to town, Queen Victoria gave "Music City USA" it's moniker after hearing - not Tammy Wynette but The Fisk Jubilee Singers. Today Nashville has possibly more African American Theatre companies than any other city in the country. Queen of the heap would be Sista Style Productions, so google that when you have a moment.
Speaking of Sistas, while there are a few interesting men in the Nashville theatre scene, I have to say that it's the women that are really kicking butt. I have found that dealing with women is so much easier than dealing with men - I think it has something to do with testosterone, so here, in no particular order, is my list of awesome Nashville theatre women.
Shannon Wood, Carolyn German, Denice Hicks, Helen "Olaketi" Shute- ettaway, Maryanna Clarke, Marjorie Halbert, Beki Baker, Cathy Street, Martha Wilkinson, Deb Holloway, Mary McCallum, Persephone Felder-Fentress, Wesley Paine, Alexis Lherrison, Susan DuPont, Courtney McClellan, Halee Culicerto, Vali Forrester. I shouldn't stop here but I have to so we can get on to other things.
Of course, I should mention the contribution from the gay community, but I, being extremely "Southern" myself, don't want to make anyone nervous or accidentally "out" anyone (like myself), so let's keep that one in the closet, right? Just remember Bianca Paige in Torch Song Trilogy at The Darkhorse. Sold out a three week run three weeks before it opened at @$25.00 a ticket.
Kinda like CROWNS is doing now!
And how about a hand for our great critics - Martin Brady, Evans O'Donnell, Jeffrey Ellis and Amy Stumpfl.
And Fiona Soltes at The Tennessean.
Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre.
The Nashville Dramaturgy Project