News » Cover Story

Arts & Entertainment 2010: Writer's Picks

Best of Nashville 2010

comment

BEST ART EXHIBIT TO MAKE OUTSIDERS DO A SPIT-TAKE: COUTURE EXHIBIT AT THE FRIST

Not New York, not Los Angeles, not Miami, not even Vegas: It was Nashville that landed the one-U.S.-stop-only Golden Age of Couture exhibit from the Victoria Albert Museum this year, a collection of sumptuous postwar frocks from Dior, Givenchy and other top French and British designers that showcased impeccable craftsmanship and lofty vision, a return to domesticity and a fantastical luxuriousness. Hosting the collection here not only forced fashion editors to reroute their usual flights, but it made us the envy of the industry, even if just for a moment. Dear Frist: Whatever you did to wrangle this one-of-a-kind sartorial glimpse, keep doing it. TRACY MOORE

BEST SOLO ART SHOW: JOEL LAMAR BATEY'S SOUL TRAIN AT OVVIO ARTE

Batey's first solo show — a collection of paintings rendered on salvaged metal shelves — was an astonishing mix of surrealism, social commentary and wry humor that had Nashville's art world buzzing for weeks. Many works teetered between erotic beauty and potential violence, while others juxtaposed primitive tribal themes with cartoonish images — and all were permeated with a delicious sense of irony. Soul Train established Batey as an artist to watch, armed with a fertile imagination and unafraid to probe the darkest (and strangest) corners of the human psyche. JACK SILVERMAN

BEST GALLERY SERIES: RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE AT ZEITGEIST GALLERY

Summer's tough on art writers. Galleries put it in neutral and museums play to the tourists. No one runs to look at art in the summer, so who can blame them? If you missed Zeitgeist Gallery's Right to Assemble series, you missed one of the only cool spots in town during those mangy dog days — and you also missed Nashville's best art series of 2010. These three interlocking group exhibits showed off what is arguably the city's best artist roster and finally proved that sunshine and art can peacefully coexist. JOE NOLAN

BEST GALLERY RESILIENCY: TWIST GALLERY

We spill a lot of ink on Twist Gallery, but it's hard not to. This Art Crawl pioneer consistently finds a way to keep its doors open while hosting performance pieces and installation exhibits that most commercial concerns would never consider. Now that gallery co-founder Caroline Carlisle has left for mom-hood and other projects, this would have been the perfect time for curator Beth Gilmore to take a bow as well. Instead, she decided to add two more galleries to the mothership. Twist just celebrated its fourth birthday — here's to many more. JOE NOLAN

BEST PERFORMANCE ART PROJECT: WILLIAM POPE.L

Known as "The Friendliest Black Artist in America," William Pope.L is prolific and extremely influential. He staged his latest performance/video art project in downtown Nashville with the help of several local residents, each of whom were dressed, complete with fake beards, like Robert E. Lee. The Lee impersonators endured several days' worth of filming while Pope.L and his crew followed, recording every move as they participated in a variety of unusual and at times torturous acts. The end result will be an hours-long, Andy Warhol-esque video, screening at TSU this fall. LAURA HUTSON

BEST OTHERWORLDLY ART EXHIBIT: U-RAM CHOE AT THE FRIST CENTER

U-Ram Choe is a creator of kinetic sculptures. He's from South Korea, but if you saw New Urban Species, the artist's exhibit at the Frist Center's Contemporary Artists Project gallery, you probably think he's from the future. One of the most talked-about exhibits of the year, Choe's show mesmerized schoolkids, art geeks and socialites alike, provoking questions about environmentalism, evolution and consciousness. The Frist's CAP space has become the best contemporary gallery in the city. Here's looking forward to more from them in '11. JOE NOLAN

BEST VIDEO ART EXHIBIT: SOAPS, FLUKES & FOLLIES

Not only is Cheekwood's art video series the best re-purposing of old horse stables imaginable, it's also one of Nashville's most consistent bets for compelling contemporary art. Soaps, Flukes & Follies offered manic moving images that were as disturbing as they were spellbinding. The exhibit featured work by heavyweights like Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley, but Ryan Trecartin's "I-Be-Area" stole the show, holding a mirror up to YouTube culture with 108 minutes of crazy-time absurdity that seemed hell-bent on digesting and regurgitating the whole of America's collective digital unconscious. JOE NOLAN

BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE CULTURED: ART CRAWL AT THE ARCADE

Let's be real: The main reason you attend the monthly Art Crawl at the Arcade is the free booze. But in a likely futile endeavor to not look like a cheap-ass lush, you leave a tip and wander around the gallery for a bit. Sure, you can tell the difference between a photograph and a painting, but beyond that, most of your time will be spent adjusting your monocle and asking your drinking buddies if that $500 price tag for a toy-horse diorama is a joke, or what. ASHLEY SPURGEON

BEST FALL DATE NIGHT: "CHIHULY NIGHTS" AT CHEEKWOOD

Chihuly at Cheekwood has been an incredible success, far exceeding Cheekwood's expectations — it's generated 2,000 new members and increased attendance by 116 percent over the same period last year. (And this in an economy that's devastated many arts organizations.) The nighttime portion of the exhibit, open Wednesdays through Fridays till 10 p.m., features over a dozen outdoor installations of the artist's colorful glass artworks, dramatically lit to create a truly magical playground for both romantic strolls and family outings. The museum stays open late too, and the Pineapple Room recently began dinner service on Friday nights, providing the perfect self-contained date night. "Chihuly Nights" runs through Oct. 29 (with the exception of Oct. 14, when Del McCoury performs for the "LIVE! @ Cheekwood" concert series). Word of advice: To beat the long line of cars waiting to park, get there by 6 or 6:30. JACK SILVERMAN

BEST BALLET: NASHVILLE BALLET'S REIMAGINED NUTCRACKER

For the record, Nashville Ballet debuted its Nashville-themed Nutcracker in 2008. But seeing it during Christmas '09 was believing: a gloriously reimagined late 19th century Nashville world created with Shigeru Yaji's spectacular scenery, Scott Leathers' gorgeous lighting effects, and costumes by noted designer Campbell Baird. The dancers maintained the classical feel of Tchaikovsky's timeless piece, plus added some new storytelling wrinkles, and artistic director Paul Vasterling's goal — to have a Nutcracker of Music City's own for many years to come — is now a reality. MARTIN BRADY

BEST DRAMA: ACTORS BRIDGE ENSEMBLE'S VINCENT IN BRIXTON

Bill Feehely's attentive direction set the tone for this literate, historically fanciful Nicholas Wright script about Vincent van Gogh. A front-rank cast was led by two Nashville newcomers, Brent Maddox and the amazing Kim Bretton, the latter an import from England. Bretton is blessed with subtle vocal and physical skills, and her courageous performance, as a character who must negotiate a lot of psychic baggage, was nothing short of riveting. MARTIN BRADY

BEST MUSICAL: STREET THEATRE COMPANY'S 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Entertaining musical productions dotted the local landscape this past year — Big River, Nine and John & Jen among them — but even a somewhat makeshift performing space and rising floodwaters couldn't dim the populist brightness of this consistently hilarious and delightful satire based on dysfunctional spelling bee contestants and their equally neurotic adult beekeepers. Director Lauren Shouse wrangled a gifted and goofy cast through the show's sharp humor, and Rolin Mains provided cool musical direction. A-W-E-S-O-M-E, awesome. MARTIN BRADY

BEST NEW PLAY: BLACKBIRD THEATER'S TWILIGHT OF THE GODS

Over the last decade, Nashville's theater scene has seen a big increase in productions of works by local playwrights, and interesting new scripts have emerged recently from area writers like Nate Eppler, Jim Reyland, Jene India, Mary McCallum and Trish Crist. But Wes Driver and Greg Greene surpassed them all, opening their new theater company with this witty, culturally literate whodunit with a smart sense of history, clever dialogue and challenging character roles. MARTIN BRADY

BEST SHAKESPEARE: NASHVILLE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL'S THE TEMPEST

Actually, this might've also garnered an award for "Best Reality Show," considering the events of opening night, when a fire alarm and the eventual arrival of the Nashville Fire Department scuttled the play's first scene. The audience was ushered outside while NFD did their thing, and then NSF did theirs — carrying on with Claire Syler's staging of a charming and well-paced Tempest, which benefited from Troutt Theater's warm ambience, some highly professional technical design, original choreography and music, and a cast that effectively mixed pros with students to render the Bard with sense and sensibility. MARTIN BRADY

BEST OPERA: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

Proving once again that it's not just a venue for traditional opera, Nashville Opera ambitiously mounted the Tennessee premiere of this rarely produced Philip Glass opus based on Edgar Allan Poe's famous short story. Artistic director John Hoomes staged the chamber piece in two acts with a cast of five and an orchestra of 13, while also co-conceiving the progressive set design and dealing with demanding alternative production elements, including amplified voices mixed with an orchestration that included electric guitar and synthesizer. Mozart would've approved. MARTIN BRADY

BEST PRODUCTION BY A NEW THEATER COMPANY: STUDIO TENN'S OUR TOWN

Launching a new theater company is a risky business, but at least producing execs Philip and Marguerite Hall and artistic director Matt Logan got it right with their inaugural effort, staged, of all places, at the Loveless Barn. Studio Tenn gave us timeless Thornton Wilder and an excellent cast that included gifted local talent such as Chip Arnold, Matthew Carlton and Nan Gurley. Logan's direction was charming and made the most of the play's big moments, climaxing with a graveyard scene that moved all in attendance. MARTIN BRADY

BEST ONE-WOMAN SHOW: VILIA STEELE IN WARRIORS DON'T CRY AT TENNESSEE WOMEN'S THEATER PROJECT

Young Vilia Steele took on the role of Melba Pattillo Beals — one of nine black high-schoolers who entered Little Rock's Central High in 1957 amid a firestorm of racist protest. Steele capably conveyed her character's sensitivity and occasional naïveté, but she also nimbly switched gears to portray the supporting players in the drama, including friends and family, news reporters and NAACP officials, all of whom were thrown into the crucible at one time or another. Steele's powers of oral interpretation got a real workout, and she ably shifted voices in a true tour de force. MARTIN BRADY

BEST ACTOR: BRIAN RUSSELL

It wasn't enough for Russell that he was the face of Mark Twain in the city's ongoing celebration of the centennial of the humorist's death. He also had to go ahead and portray Galileo in Bertolt Brecht's epic play of the same name, then reassert his superiority as Nashville's foremost interpreter of the role of Prospero in an eventful and excellent production of Shakespeare's Tempest. (He also has experience playing the Bard himself, come to think of it.) Those classic and historic portrayals were his most significant local roles, but Russell, one of Music City's most accomplished thespians, also takes his show on the road a lot. This recognition is way overdue. MARTIN BRADY

BEST ACTRESS: DENICE HICKS

Aside from the fact that Hicks celebrated her 30th year in Nashville in 2010, her two key stage roles spotlighted her versatility and ability to cross age barriers as a performer. In Tennessee Rep's production of Steel Magnolias, Hicks was the gossipy, infernal biddy Ouiser Boudreaux, clomping around the stage and knocking down one joke after another to big laughs. A few months later, she took (literal) flight as the sprite Ariel in Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of The Tempest, soaring into the Troutt Theater's fly space and deftly declaiming the Bard. You gotta be in shape to do that stuff. Or just ageless. MARTIN BRADY

BEST SET DESIGN: PAUL GATRELL

Gatrell designed a marvelous set — warm and pristinely crafted — for Actors Bridge Ensemble's production of Vincent in Brixton. It was the kind of work that demonstrates just how significant set design is to the overall impact of a production. Sure, writing, acting and directing are extremely important, but over the last few years, Gatrell's sets — for Belmont University and other local performing groups — have helped remind us that art is wherever you find it. MARTIN BRADY

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION: GINGER NEWMAN FOR SWING! AT THE LARRY KEETON THEATRE

Newman is a local treasure, though she only occasionally comes out to play. So it's a huge event when she does, whether it's one of her one-woman shows or, in this case, a surprise turn as musical director for the dance revue Swing! Newman put together a kick-ass sextet that played an unending lineup of rhythmic jazz numbers from the 1940s, then she turned around in Act 2 and delivered her own hot vocal version of "Blues in the Night." That's full-service work — and she never batted an eyelash. MARTIN BRADY

BEST THEATRICAL SWAN SONG: PEOPLE'S BRANCH THEATRE'S STRAIGHT OUTTA HANNIBAL

After 10 years, many of them as Music City's premier alternative theater company, People's Branch Theatre had to close its doors. Sad as this development was, the organization's swan song was delightful — artistic director Ross Brooks' unlikely but very successful portrayal of a hipster Mark Twain, backed by a rock band, no less. Brooks drew pithily from Twain's philosophy and offered incisive and poignant life observations that evoked knowing smiles. RIP PBT. MARTIN BRADY

BEST BIBLICAL COLLABORATION: GOD'S TROMBONES AT CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL

Two performances might not have been enough, but this staging of Harlem Renaissance giant James Weldon Johnson's 1927 poetic retelling of biblical stories offered the perfect celebration for Black History Month. The new adaptation was by Ted Swindley, with co-direction by playwright/actor Shawn Whitsell, plus the cast included familiar local performers Delores Nicholson and Barry Scott. The gospel singing was under the direction of Belmont University's Jane Warren. MARTIN BRADY

BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC FUNDING INNOVATION: ALIAS/GLF PROJECT

Can't figure out how to pay a composer for that piece you'd like to commission? Maybe you should take some ideas from the Alias Chamber Ensemble. To sponsor and record new music by rising star Gabriela Lena Frank, they tapped an unusual funding source: an interdisciplinary grant from a Vanderbilt philosopher and sociologist. The Minnesota-based Schubert Club anted up too, and eventually more usual suspects like the Tennessee and Metropolitan Nashville arts commissions and the National Endowment for the Arts joined the table. New chamber music in Nashville? Yes we can! RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST BAROQUE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: ANNUAL BACHANALIA FESTIVAL

Musicians across a wide spectrum of styles can unite in a love for J.S. Bach, and that's what makes Christ Church Cathedral's free annual Bachanalia Festival such a great community event. The festival's fourth run made a wonderful forum for violinist Christian Teal to offer a solo sonata or for some of Nashville's best organists to exercise the cathedral's wonderful instrument in a prelude or two. But the really special thing about the six-hour event was how high-caliber traditional performances rubbed shoulders with inventive arrangements for all-bassoon or all-saxophone ensembles, and with Bach renditions by harpists, a jazz ensemble, even a master whistler. Rumor suggests that the festival is still growing, so keep an ear out for it in March. RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST RANGE OF GIGS BY A CLASSICAL PERFORMER: ROGER WIESMEYER

If local double-reed whiz Roger Wiesmeyer doesn't answer his phone, he's probably up onstage someplace. You can find him holding down the Nashville Symphony's English horn chair or subbing there on the oboe, and he stepped in front of the orchestra twice this year as a soloist. You might also look for him at the Blair School of Music, where he led a concert of woodwind music in February and appeared in a duet on Alias' winter concert. One six-day span in March had him playing Bach at two local churches, joining the Vanderbilt Orchestra for a solo feature, and participating in a show at the W. O. Smith Music School. Not enough variety? In January he was the pianist for an all-Mozart program on WPLN's Live in Studio C. The man likes to make music. RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST NEXT WAVE STUDENT MUSIC ENSEMBLE: BLAIR PERCUSSION VORTEX

Student groups don't typically get much press, but Blair Percussion VORTEX is making a mark with what the group's director Michael Holland calls "Next Wave" music. Blair has a terrific crop of percussion students, and their enthusiasm for this music is obvious and infectious. VORTEX's ambitious April concert pulled in high-profile guests including violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain as well as dancers, a remix artist and an old silent film for high-precision live accompaniment. But smaller, all-student pieces were just as memorable, using the whole performance space to dramatic effect and choreographing the instrumentalists themselves into an absolutely charming blend of dance and music. "Downtown" ain't just for New Yorkers anymore. RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST-TIMED CLASSICAL PROGRAMMING SELECTION: NASHVILLE SYMPHONY PLAYS JENNIFER HIGDON'S VIOLIN CONCERTO

Nashville Symphony conductor Giancarlo Guerrero sure can pick 'em. Ask him about the orchestra's direction sometime, and you'll discover a wellspring of enthusiasm for emerging composers, which means that we get to hear a lot of "next big things" alongside established "sure things" on the symphony's programs. Last January, for instance, he led a really gorgeous performance of Jennifer Higdon's 2009 Violin Concerto, with young virtuoso Hilary Hahn as the violin soloist. Who knew that the piece would win a Pulitzer Prize in April? Good call, maestro. RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL ENCORE BY A CLASSICAL CONCERTO SOLOIST: TRACY SILVERMAN

Let's say you're a former child prodigy whose Juilliard years found you more drawn to Hendrix than Paganini, and you've spent the ensuing decades as a pioneer of the solid-body electric violin. Now imagine that Pulitzer-winning composer John Adams recently lured you back to the concert hall with a concerto custom-tailored to your distinctive sound, and that you've played it to much acclaim with major orchestras including the L.A. Philharmonic. Posit further that you've hauled your trusty Mesa/Boogie amplifier down to the Schermerhorn Center to wow a Nashville Symphony audience with Adams' soaring, meditative melodies. They're applauding mightily — what do you do for an encore? If you're Tracy Silverman, you whip out an ultra-funky solo rendition of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" and bring down the house, blue-hairs and all. Bravo! RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST CLASSICAL-FOLK COLLISION: BAROQUE FIDDLING PROJECT

Ever notice any similarities between Appalachian fiddling and historically informed Baroque violin technique? If not, you must have missed last spring's Baroque Fiddling Project, put on by Music City Baroque. The project brought classical and folk musicians together for a pair of workshops, enlisting the help of Montreal-based violinist Rachel Jones, an expert performer in both of these musical worlds. Two concerts also juxtaposed Baroque and fiddle repertoires, with Jones enlisting her compatriot Émile Brûlé and Nashville fiddle star Tammy Rogers for a wonderful evening that included original music by the two Canadian guests. A terrific example of living tradition and musical cross-pollination. RUSSELL JOHNSTON

BEST ADVERTISEMENT FOR NASHVILLE: HARMONY KORINE & GASPAR NOE ON FRENCH TV

Months later, we're still rubbing our eyes: Did we really see Enter the Void director Gaspar Noe — dressed like an extra from a Peckinpah cantina, pupils wide as saucers — saunter out of the Dragon Park and up Belcourt Avenue with Harmony Korine? Yes, yes we did — if only because the proof was aired on Into the Night with..., a TV show pairing like-minded artists for the European culture channel Arte. If Nashville wanted to send the world a signal that a sea change is underway in Music City, footage of The Belcourt's madhouse Trash Humpers premiere oughta do the trick — especially since that affable guy directing the cameras in the lobby was radical gay-porn auteur Bruce LaBruce. If you suffered the blunt-force trauma of Noe's Irreversible, you'll appreciate the sickness of this gesture: the director autographed the theater's fire extinguisher. JIM RIDLEY

BEST TREND IN FILM EXHIBITION: FREE MOVIE SERIES

Give us your tired, your poor, your broke-ass cinephiles who can't afford $14.50 just to see Piranha 3-D — and we can guarantee you free movies pretty much all year round in Nashville. Not only that, but between the wildly popular Movies in the Park, The Belcourt's summer-long outdoor series, the downtown Nashville Public Library's monthly screenings and the ITVS Community Cinema program, you're getting better movies than the chumps who are paying, often with goodies such as receptions, visiting filmmakers and post-film Q&As. The big rock candy mountain: Vanderbilt's International Lens series of foreign and independent films, many of them local premieres — and all as free as coffee stirrers at Starbucks. JIM RIDLEY

BEST ARTS PROGRAMMING: THE BELCOURT

Used to be that Nashville stood as good a chance of securing a top-notch touring film retrospective, be it Shaw Brothers, Mikio Naruse or Nicholas Ray, as it did of hosting the World Series — in January. Now that The Belcourt has a reel-to-reel projector, however — god bless die-hard patrons Scott and Mimi Manzler — the sky's the limit on what the city can show. As proof, this partial list of titles speaks for itself: Suspiria (shame about that cut print, though), Leave Her to Heaven, Jeanne Dielman, The Mother and the Whore, The Evil Dead, Notorious, Get Carter (the original, duh), Five Easy Pieces, The Red Shoes — and that's not to mention either the summer-long Kurosawa retro, the French-British noir roundup or the Jacques Tati series (which actually got coverage on the WSMV evening news — one more reason Demetria Kalodimos deserves a parade someday). Coming soon: a Charlie Chaplin retro, a nearly impossible-to-see Dennis Hopper double feature of The Last Movie and The American Dreamer — and the second wave of installing those vastly improved seats. JIM RIDLEY

BEST MOVIE POSTER: HOUSE (HAUSU)

Sam Smith would make an awesome Marvel superhero — mild-mannered Ben Folds/My So-Called Band drummer by night, cult-movie poster designer by day. Influenced by Cuban and European posters of the 1960s, he's become a go-to guy for Criterion DVD covers (his design for Chaplin's Modern Times is particularly striking) and now first-run features (he got the plum gig of designing the theatrical poster for Olivier Assayas' upcoming terrorist docudrama Carlos). But he has yet to top the iconic shrieking-cat poster he conjured last fall for the 1977 Japanese horror fantasy House — an image he devised for The Belcourt, and which pretty much went viral from there to distributor Janus Films, director Nobuhiko Obayashi, T-shirts, and now to Criterion's DVD cover later this month. (Another Nashvillian contributes the DVD's liner notes: Asian-cinema authority and Watkins instructor Chuck Stephens.) Fans have already started collecting his limited-edition Belcourt posters — which won't dissuade anyone from buying his inevitable coffee-table book someday. JIM RIDLEY

BEST NEW LITERARY STAR: ADAM ROSS

So how was your summer? Fine, thanks: went to a state park, mowed the grass, caught some rays by the inflatable pool. Adam Ross, meanwhile, was getting a cover-story rave from Scott Turow in the New York Times Book Review, a caricature in The New Yorker, adoring notices from book-tour audiences and high-fives from Richard Russo, Stephen King and Scott Smith. Oh, and that nerdy dude down front at his NYC appearance was some guy named Jonathan Franzen. He'll get a hero's welcome at this weekend's Southern Festival of Books, where he'll read from his hugely acclaimed (and debated) first novel, Mr. Peanut. Maybe he'll sign your Kindle. (For more Southern Festival of Books coverage, see p. 151.) JIM RIDLEY

BEST NEW POETRY EVENT: A NIGHT FOR FUGITIVE POETS AT SPRINGWATER

While there's an always-evolving spoken-word scene in North Nashville, there hasn't been enough poetry in the city for quite some time. The new Poet's Corner at Scarritt-Bennett Center is a good thing, but if you like your verse with a PBR chaser, this is the event for you. Meeting on the third Wednesday of every month, A Night For Fugitive Poets should probably trace its provenance to The Beats or the French Symbolists instead of its relatively staid namesakes. But who's counting? All's fair in drinking and poetry. JOE NOLAN

BEST OVERLOOKED CULTURAL ATTRACTION: DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

Since 2007, Nashville's 9-year-old Main Library has featured, free no less, the following: journalist Juan Williams, artist Huang Xiang, authors John Irving and Ann Patchett, actors Gene Hackman and Annabelle Gurwitch, TV writer Jeff Kahn, essayist Sandra Tsing Loh, vocal group Take Six, Eroica Trio cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio and country singer Chuck Wicks (Dancing With the Stars). If, say, the Belcourt or TPAC had offered such an array of talent during this relatively brief span, locals would laud either of them as the city's ultimate cultural/entertainment venue. Sadly, many Nashvillians overlook this downtown gold mine. If up until reading this, you were among the oblivious, now you know — so get off your duff and head down to Church Street! WILLIAM WILLIAMS

The Sweetest Thing

JENNIFER RICHMOND

By Martha Wilkinson

Martha Wilkinson, recipient of top acting honors in the 2009 Best of Nashville issue, is an acclaimed stage actress and director. She serves as artistic director of Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, where she finishes the run of Rear Widow this weekend, and she will be seen in The Rep's 2011 production of The 39 Steps.

I met Jennifer at callbacks for Zombies Can't Climb — a musical I directed for People's Branch Theatre. I immediately sensed we were kindred spirits as she had on a FABULOUS pair of shoes — any gal who has that kinda taste in "kicks" has to have somethin' good goin' on. Once I got past her keen fashion sense and heard her sing and read, she had me. She had a fantastic voice, talent, moxie and a charismatic personality. She was cast as Espruhkita, the pregnant prostitute. In rehearsal, we weren't quite hitting the mark with Espruhkita. I said, "Jen, you're giving me Marg Helgenberger, and I need a Disney princess gone bad." She took the note and RAN with it! What followed was a delightfully funny, dead-on interpretation of this knocked-up ho'. Jennifer is extraordinarily talented, with an endless well of versatility. She's hardworking, professional, a team player, and possesses a zest for life that is infectious. I wholeheartedly believe she deserves to be nominated among Nashville's best performers. She's the package all young performers should aspire to be.

Add a comment