Performing Arts Flourish in Music City
Song, dance, theater, ballet. TPAC is Tennessee’s sparkling centerpoint for performing arts, and this month it’s making history.
Tennessee Performing Arts Theater (TPAC) is a place where dreams come true. From the first scattering of magic dust and a private fundraising effort of over $4 million back in 1972, to the unusual partnership of state and non-profit private ownership, TPAC has led the way for performing arts to flourish in Tennessee.
Over 1.5 million children in Tennessee have fallen in love with the wonder of acting, dancing and singing as professional performing artists from TPAC have mentored students in schools, taught workshops, helped teachers produce Disney musicals and opened doors into their creative minds.
Close your eyes a moment as you wait for the curtain to rise. Musicians in the orchestra pit play as one, the sound swells, transporting you into a world of color and costume, fluid motion and perfect symmetry of body, mind and spirit. The audience is hushed, expectant. Lights burst across the darkened theater as the stage is revealed, and the magic spell is cast. Laughter, tears, moments of reflection or wonder, your heart recognizes the familiar stories of life told in new ways.
The first ever pre-Broadway musical to debut in Nashville opened at TPAC on July 31, quickly notching up a series of firsts. Legendary comedian, film icon and director, Jerry Lewis, has taken his 1963 classic film, The Nutty Professor, to new heights as a musical.
The movie was a bold move for Lewis back in the Sixties, when he shocked Paramount executives by diverting from his usual role as Jerry Lewis, to playing two very different characters.
At the age of 86, he is now on the road to breaking new records as director of this pre-Broadway production, a dazzling collaboration with Marvin Hamlisch and award-winning writer, Rupert Holmes. Halfway into the three-week performance, which finishes August 19, Hamlisch himself is now immortalized as the maestro of the perfect note – dying suddenly even before his planned visit to see the show for which he wrote 19 musical scores. This was his last completed stage musical.
TPAC’s annual series of Broadway shows performs in Andrew Jackson Hall, grandly decked in red and gold with tiered seating for almost 2,500, affording an excellent view from every seat in the house. In the more intimate James K. Polk Theater, with a capacity of 1,075, The Nutty Professor is receiving rave reviews with a brilliant performance by lead actor Michael Andrews and a cast that has drawn a lot of talent from Nashville.
The small Andrew Johnson Theater is used by the Tennessee Repertory Theater and for smaller acoustic concerts, lectures and video shoots.
Are you ready to take a musical journey? Embark on your own magic carpet ride with a season ticket to the next six-month Broadway series at TPAC, beginning in October.
Back in the 1960′s and ’70′s, before TPAC was born, Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theater was the place for theatergoers and Nashville’s elite. The old red barn sits on a curve on rural Highway 100 just south of Nashville, a living legacy that has continued its tradition for over 45 years.
Chaffin’s Barn, now owned by second generation John Chaffin and his wife Janie, draws patrons from around the world as the only independently owned and operated professional dinner theater in Tennessee and also the second oldest in the nation.
The evening begins with a sumptuous country-style buffet and then the lights dim, as the ‘magic stage’ descends from the ceiling to the center of the theater. The audience is seated on all four sides for a grandstand view of all the action. This engineering marvel is, in fact, the only working stage of its kind in the country.
The dinner theater has won numerous awards, and is a memorable experience for visitors to Music City looking for an evening of fun and theatrical entertainment. Regular performances feature great actors with impressive stage credits. The Odd Couple is currently showing until August 19. Discounts are available for groups or Thursday matinees.
“The world is a stage,” said Janie Chaffin, “and the Barn gives us an opportunity to look into our ‘mirror of life’ and leave as if we were the performers. We may not perform on a stage, but we perform daily in our world.”