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A crowdfunded production focused on Nashville's immigrant communities leads a promising fall theater season

Fall Guide 2013: Voices Carry

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Actor Keri Pisapia portrays a number of characters in the world premiere run of Voices of Nashville
  • Actor Keri Pisapia portrays a number of characters in the world premiere run of Voices of Nashville
Nashville's fall theater, dance and opera offerings promise a wide range of entertainment, but there's nothing like a locally produced world premiere to provide meaningful reflection on our own city—while also reminding us of the social and political power of the dramatic arts.

Commissioned by the Tennessee Women's Theater Project, and first workshopped at TWTP's 2013 Women's Work arts festival, Christine Mather and Sara Sharpe's Voices of Nashville: Immigration and Community is a piece of documentary theater that explores the experience of immigration in our region, as seen through the eyes of new Americans.

Moved by her awareness of Music City's growing immigrant populations — Kurdish, Sudanese, Somali, Bhutanese, Hispanic, Egyptian and Korean — TWTP artistic director Maryanna Clarke considered the impact these new citizens might have locally on schools, churches and neighborhoods, not to mention how native Nashvillians might view the changing demographics. From there, playwrights Sharpe and Mather set out to conduct interviews with immigrants of varying economic and educational levels, blending their stories into composite characters. Those voices, brought to life by veteran TWTP actors Keri Pisapia and David Chattam, together with company newcomers Becky Wahlstrom and Colette Divine, bring into focus the aspirations and courageous can-do spirit of our city's newcomers.

TWTP successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to get Voices of Nashville off the ground, and sustaining support has come from HCA/TriStar Health and the Nissan Foundation. The project — from outreach and research to creation and performance — will ultimately be achieved in further partnership with organizations like the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, American Center for Outreach and the Coalition for Education about Immigration.

The show's initial three-week run will be followed up with tours to Middle Tennessee community organizations, with many of those shows offered free of charge. Among the possible venues are Scarritt-Bennett Center, Casa Azafrán Community Center of Conexión Américas, Nashville Public Library Main Branch, plus Metro Nashville Public Schools. Oct. 4-20 at Z. Alexander Looby Theater


Don't Miss:

Giselle
Dance Theatre of Tennessee returns with another installment of Ballet in the Park. This year's entry is Giselle, a heartbreaking tale of love, deceit and forgiveness, achieved through DTT artistic director Christopher Mohnani's choreography (after Marius Petipa) and the music of Adolphe Adam. Performances are free to the public, and there is a pre-show entertainment lineup, including singer-songwriters, jugglers and magicians. Sept. 20–30 at the Centennial Park Band Shell

City of Light
Michael McFaden's light opera, winner of the 2012 Boiler Room Theatre Pressure Cooker contest, finally receives its mounting with the Franklin company. McFaden's work features a well-researched original script, the story taking place at the beginning of the last century in the Spiritualist village of Lily Dale, N.Y., where a young widow, a paranormal researcher and a famous magician seek to discover the mysteries of life after death. McFaden's lyrics are set to lesser-known melodies of Arthur Sullivan. Sept. 27-29 at The Factory at Franklin

Sordid Lives
ACT 1 opens its 2013-14 season with Del Shores' 1996 play about a colorful Texas family dealing with the sudden, accidental and somewhat mysterious death of the elderly family matriarch. Family demons are unleashed in the aftermath, and a potentially embarrassing funeral lies ahead. From the author of Southern Baptist Sissies, with David McGinnis directing. Oct. 4-12 at Darkhorse Theater

The Importance of Being Earnest
For the first time in a good while, Tennessee Repertory Theatre wades into the water of the all-time classics, presenting Oscar Wilde's comic masterpiece, noted for its sparkling dialogue, romantic spirit and rousing humor (i.e., improbable plot twists and mistaken identities). Meanwhile, the great Wilde cannily lampoons Victorian manners and mores. The impressive cast includes Rona Carter, Denice Hicks, Emily Landham, Marin Miller, Eric Pasto-Crosby, Brian Russell, Bobby Wyckoff and Jacob York. Oct. 12-26 at TPAC's Johnson Theater (Previews Oct. 10-11)

Into the Woods
Studio Tenn Theatre Company takes its first crack at the Stephen Sondheim canon with this increasingly popular work — book by James Lapine — that exposes the darker underside of famous fairy tale characters, including Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Jack (of beanstalk fame). The setting is the enchanted forest, and the ever-creative Sondheim score assures poignance and laughter in equal measure. Oct. 17-Nov. 3 at the Franklin Theatre

The Producers
Boiler Room Theatre presents the very first indigenous Middle Tennessee mounting of the blockbuster Mel Brooks musical. Patrick Kramer directs. Oct. 18-Nov. 16 at The Factory at Franklin

Peter Pan
Accompanied by the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Ballet opens its fall season with artistic director Paul Vasterling's original take on the beloved James M. Barrie story, complete with villainous Captain Hook, man-eating crocodile and impetuous Tinker Bell. Vasterling hand-selects the piece's music, as Peter Pan takes Wendy on a fantastical adventure to Neverland, where the Lost Boys will never grow up. (Yes, there will be flying.) The ensemble includes the company's youthful dance students performing as mermaids, fairies and sprites. Oct. 18-20 at TPAC's Jackson Hall

Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Nashville Children's Theatre settles in to a five-week run of this popular stage adaptation of the 1970s network TV show that mixed songs with learning. "Conjunction Junction," "Interjections," "Just a Bill," "Unpack Your Adjectives" — it's all coming back now, right? NCT scored big with this show during its 2006-7 season, but there's already a new crop of young minds in the world ripe for exposure to the energetic revue. Oct. 24-Dec. 1 at NCT's Hill Theatre

Jersey Boys
After doing boffo business back in 2009, this compelling musical biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons returns to Music City. The score is a treasure trove of iconic pop hits, including "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll," "Oh, What a Night" and many others. Oct. 29-Nov. 3 at TPAC's Jackson Hall

Spamalot
Street Theatre Company aims big-time for the funny with this musical comedy inspired by the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's an irreverent parody of the King Arthur legend, and the acclaimed original Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical of the 2004-5 season. Road-show versions played TPAC in 2008 and 2012. Nov. 1-17 at 1933 Elm Hill Pike

We Will Rock You
Nashville theatergoers get their first local look at this musical based on the songs of Queen. The book, by Ben Elton, relates a tale of Bohemians in a distant future, who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion and live music to a world cursed with uniformity. The show has had its share of critics since its original 2002 London opening, yet a number of touring productions have helped spread its popularity worldwide. Besides, who doesn't acknowledge the genius of the late great Freddie Mercury? Nov. 12-17 at TPAC's Jackson Hall

Absurd Person Singular
ACT 1's second offering of the fall is this 1972 play by the gifted and prolific Alan Ayckbourn. In three acts, Ayckbourn's work documents the changing fortunes of three married couples. Each act takes place at a Christmas celebration in one of the couples' homes on successive Christmas Eves. Lane Wright directs. Nov. 15-23 at Darkhorse Theater

The Diary of Anne Frank
Actors Bridge Ensemble and Belmont University's fall collaborative project is this famous Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett play, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman. The director is Bill Feehely. Nov. 15-23 at Belmont's Black Box Theater

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Circle Players presents Dale Wasserman's 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's famous novel concerning the characters and inner workings at an Oregon psychiatric hospital. Directed by Clay Hillwig. Nov. 15-Dec. 1 at Lipscomb University's Shamblin Theater

Email editor@nashvillescene.com.

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