About Evans Donnell

Evans Donnell is the chief theater, film and opera critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He wrote reviews and features about theater, opera and classical music for The Tennessean from 2002 to 2011. He was the theater, film and opera critic for ArtNowNashville.com from 2011 to 2012. Donnell has also contributed to The Sondheim Review, Back Stage, The City Paper (Nashville), the Nashville Banner, The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News and several other publications since beginning his professional journalism career in 1985 with The Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat. He was selected as a fellow for the 2004 National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) arts journalism institutes for theater and musical theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2006 and classical music and opera at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 2009. He has also been an actor (member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA), founding and running AthensSouth Theatre from 1996 to 2001 and appearing in Milos Forman's "The People vs Larry Flynt" among other credits. Donnell is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (www.americantheatrecritics.org).

‘Rudolph’ Star Lexy Baeza Has Prepared Long and Well For Role

You might say Los Angeles-based performer Lexy Baeza has been preparing for years to play the title character in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical; at the age of eight she played Toto in a production of The Wizard of Oz and more recently was John Darling (as well as an understudy for the role […]

Film Review: A Glowing Intimate Universe in ‘Theory of Everything’

“Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.” – Stephen Hawking It sometimes feels like everyone knows something about English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, mathematician and best-selling author (to name some but not all his vocations) Stephen Hawking. “A Brief History of Time” (1988) achieved phenomenal worldwide success in the […]

Theater Review: Like So Many, I Believe in ‘The Book of Mormon’!

What else can a reviewer write about that awesome musical The Book of Mormon? At least a few tons in word-weight have been deservedly heaped on this theatrical-satirical hysterical-comical (and not-so-secretly sweet) smash since it arrived on Broadway with a multi-award-winning thunderclap more than three years ago. Now the national tour (more precisely, the second national tour […]

Theater Review: Fresh Take Makes ‘Camelot’ Shine Again

In the grand setting of Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall that one brief shining moment glows again with a Camelot that’s about story and not star power of more than one stripe. T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” provided an excellent source for Alan Jay Lerner’s book, his lyrics and Frederick Loewe’s score […]

Film Review: Fascinating ‘Birdman’ Flies But Doesn’t Soar

“The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then – that’s it. Don’t hang around.” – Billy Wilder Alejandro González Iñárritu is nothing if not very earnest in his storytelling – Biutiful, Babel and 21 Grams are more than enough proof of that. And his piercingly funny-angry comedy-drama […]

Theater Review: ‘Chicago’ Still Knows How to Razzle-Dazzle

Welcome back to the Music City, Chicago. You still know how to razzle-dazzle us. This is the fourth time the tour of the John Kander/Fred Ebb/Bob Fosse megahit musical has hit Tennessee Performing Arts Center, but the first appearance in Jackson Hall since May 2005. And it still has all that jazz. Why? Well, it’s […]

Opera Review: New Nashville Opera ‘La Boheme’ One to Cherish

In Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème love can be found in a look and a kiss. In Nashville Opera’s exquisite new production it’s also found (among other places) in the voices and even the set. General and Artistic Director John Hoomes has helmed this 1896 comic-dramatic-tragic homage to amore several times over the course of his […]

Fresh Look for ‘La Boheme’ as Nashville Opera Opens Season

Yes, it’s La Bohème: starving bohemians and a tragic consumptive in 19th Century Paris. But this beloved opera is getting a fresh look as Nashville Opera opens its 2014-15 season Thursday. “We received a very generous gift from (the Three of US Foundation) for the express purpose of building this new production of La Bohème,” […]

Theater Review: Nashville Rep ‘Sweeney’ a Worthy Return Trip

Nashville Repertory Theatre has returned to London with a wickedly wonderful revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street that is well worth another trip. The complicated words and notes of Stephen Sondheim’s delicious dark confection (sharpened to a razor’s edge by Hugh Wheeler’s devilishly delightful book) are once again served up by […]

No Place Like London: Attend Nashville Rep’s ‘Sweeney Todd’

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd indeed. When the (just rechristened) troupe formerly known as Tennessee Repertory Theatre presented the 1979 Stephen Sondheim–Hugh Wheeler musical masterwork in 2008, the sold-out run, featuring Lane Davies as the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and Martha Wilkinson as that very special pie baker Mrs. Lovett, wowed reviewers (including […]

Film Review: A Timely Reminder That ‘Love is Strange’

Two longtime lovers marry. That’s the starting point of Love is Strange, the latest feature from director Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On), but while amore may have its unexpected twists, this well-crafted story rightly notes some human behaviors in the wider world are sadly predictable. That’s because the lovers (together for 39 years as […]

New Name: TN Rep Becomes Nashville Repertory Theatre

Tennessee Repertory Theatre is now Nashville Repertory Theatre. The name change was announced today at a party in the Emma Bistro Cafe celebrating the group’s three decades as Music City’s flagship Equity theater company and the 2014-15 season that begins in October with Sweeney Todd. And with the new name there’s a new web address for the troupe: […]

‘Once’ Moves Seamlessly From Indie Screen to Musical Stage

When doing a stage musical based on a beloved film it makes sense to not fix what isn’t broken. The creative folks behind Once certainly understood that when they adapted the 2007 film; adding two more songs from original “Guy” and “Girl” Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová to the theater version, plus a book by […]

Sincerity the Key to Heralded Actors’ Gang ‘Midsummer’ at OZ

The Actors’ Gang has produced many highly acclaimed theatrical works since Tim Robbins (a multi-talented artist who won an Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in the film Mystic River) founded the troupe in 1981. That rapturous response may stem from the sincerity with which the company approaches the plays they perform, according […]

Film Review: Mature Buddies Leisurely ‘Land Ho!’ in Iceland

Ah, buddy movies – where barbs and bonding go together like chocolate and peanut butter. And when one clicks it’s worth going down to the movie theater for some chuckles and a knowing nod or two. Such is the case with Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz‘s Land Ho!, which opens today at Belcourt Theatre. This leisurely look at […]

Pulitzer Winner Donald Margulies 2014-15 Ingram New Works Fellow

Add another very distinguished award-winning playwright to the impressive list of Ingram New Works Fellows at Tennessee Repertory Theatre. Donald Margulies‘ plays include Brooklyn Boy, Time Stands Still, Dinner with Friends, Sight Unseen, Collected Stories, The Loman Family Picnic, God Of Vengeance, The Model Apartment, What’s Wrong with this Picture?, and Found a Peanut. Among […]

Theater Review: Americana Heart and Spirit Flavor ‘As You Like It’

The boundless humanity of William Shakespeare allows for many settings; some of the most appealing placements come when music that endearingly conveys heart and spirit accompanies the production. Such is the case with Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Americana-infused version of As You Like It now playing in the 27th annual edition of Shakespeare in the Park. […]

Film Review: The Powerful Illusion of Reality in Brilliant ‘Boyhood’

Richard Linklater (who turned 54 on Wednesday) is my age group’s great American filmmaker: Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, School of Rock and the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) haven’t been exclusively about us, but they’ve certainly explored our society and, in the case of the Before […]

From the Back Row: Go See ‘Life Itself’ at Belcourt Theatre

Roger Ebert and his longtime print competitor/TV co-host Gene Siskel were often accused of reducing film critique to thumbs up or down. That view of their TV opinions was ultimately ridiculous given the mountains of words they put together in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune regarding good, bad and mediocre cinema. Does that mean they were […]

Film Review: Tedious ‘Third Person’ Focuses on the Self-Absorbed

Writer-Director Paul Haggis’ Third Person provides the umpteenth example of why success in art, no matter who’s involved, is never a sure thing. The gifted man behind Crash and In the Valley of Elah is back with a film full of fine actors where three stories “of love, passion, trust and betrayal” (to quote the […]