Nashville: Where New Musicals Come To Life — Jaz Dorsey , TPAC — AAPEX

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nashville: Where New Musicals Come To Life

"Musical Theatre" - those may still be dirty words over on Music Row, but for the growing community of amazing artists who fuel Nashville's increasingly exciting musical theatre scene, it probably comes as no surprise that our town is taking it's well deserved place as a serious contender in the future of the American musical.

In a front page, above the fold (in fact, right under the banner) article in yesterday's Tennessean (Wednesday, April 4th, 2012), the residents of Music City learned that the creative team of producer/director
Jerry Lewis, composer Marvin Hamlisch and award winning playwright Rupert Holmes have chosen Nashville as the city in which to launch the Broadway bound stage musical version of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. Previews begin July 23 at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and will offer Nashville audiences 4 weeks of 8 performances a week to be a part of this important Broadway venture. According to the article, casting, costumes and set building will all come out of the local talent base.

The article also quotes TPAC president Kathleen O'Brien describing Nashville as "... a community of people that has the infrastructure and advantages that Broadway producers would look at for their projects." The key word here is "infrastructure" because that's what it takes. Certainly over the past 150 years, New York City has established itself as one of the most vital cities in history as far as having the fundamental infrastructure for supporting, creating and marketing the art and the business of musical theatre, but in that same sweep of history, musicals have taken their place as a great American art form which is passionately and widely embraced and cherished by theatre artists across our nation. And while many talented artists choose to move to New York and stay there, at this point in time cities across the rest of the US can boast many artists in their communities who have paid their dues in the Big Apple and moved on to other locations and other challenges. Broadway is no longer a location; it's a state of mind.

As local evidence of that, one only needs to look at The Boiler Room Theatre in our neighboring city of Franklin, Tennessee, which only a couple of weeks ago initiated their own "American Idol-esque" new musicals competition, from which three local projects were chosen as finalists based on 30 minute presentations. Those three projects will return in September to present complete staged readings at the theatre and the winner will receive a full production at The Boiler Room in 2013. The three finalists are UMBRELLA by Steve Leslie and Len Cohen, CITY OF LIGHT by Mike McFaden (playwright/lyricist) and Terry Woods (arranger), based on the music of Sir Author Sullivan, and HAPPILY EVER AFTER (NOT) by Janet McMahan.

These finalists join a growing list of other fine musicals which have been emerging from the mists of the Cumberland over the past few years, including Parrish Stanton's ONE KISS CAFE, Sue Fabisch's MOTHERHOOD: THE MUSICAL, Randi Michael Block's GUESS WHO'S COMING TO SEDER, Jesse Goldberg's IT'S A RUFF LIFE, Ted Swindley's BECOMING KINKY and Carolyn German's Steampunk musical THE AIRSHIP AT VAPOR STATION.

Personally I think this is just the tip of an iceberg of potentially titanic proportions.

To learn more about what's happening at TPAC, please click the post's title.

Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre!

Jaz Dorsey
AAPEX Dramaturg
The Nashville Dramaturgy Project

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