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).

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

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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

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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 […]

OZ Second Season: Conversation, Contemplation and Connection


It’s an exciting time for Nashville’s contemporary arts center OZ. Artistic Director Lauren Snelling is very happy with the rapturous response such first-season offerings as Peter Brook’s The Suit and the music of Philip Glass and Tim Fain received, and she’s thrilled to talk about what’s coming up at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle. “I don’t […]

Film Review: A Funny and Compassionate ‘Obvious Child’


When I first heard someone talking about writer-director Gillian Robespierre’s new feature Obvious Child I wasn’t sure what to think – a romantic comedy entwined with the subject of abortion? No matter what one’s stance on that hot-button topic, I’m confident I’m not the only one who was wondering how – or if – that […]

New Satire-in-Song ‘Casey Stampfield’ Next Up for MCTC

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Political satire has long been a theatrical staple, and when there are politicians that invite such attention regularly it’s hardly surprising to find a new show on the subject is in the works. Music City Theatre Company is now preparing the world premiere of Casey Stampfield: The Musical, featuring an original script, lyrics and music by […]

Theater Review: ‘War Horse’ Tour a Purebred Spectacular

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The National Theatre of Great Britain’s War Horse is a theatrical purebred that fills the senses like no other show. The US tour of this award-winning heart-warmer is now commanding the stage in Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall like the champion it is. Michael Morpurgo’s beloved 1982 novel of the same name spawned the […]

Theater Review: ‘Roger’s Version’ From Flat Page to Vibrant Stage


“You have to let people have the dignity of their choices.” – Dale Kohler in Roger’s Version With his vibrant new stage adaptation of John Updike’s 1986 novel Roger’s Version Blackbird Theater Artistic Director Wes Driver nimbly walks the tightrope between intellectual rigor and emotional engagement. Yes, he’s aided by a splendid cast led by David Compton […]

International Theater Phenomenon ‘War Horse’ Opens at TPAC

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A bit of “experimental” theater originally intended for young adults goes from a 50-show run at London’s National Theatre to stages around the world. Millions have now seen War Horse, and it’s a safe bet millions more will see it through various tours and sit-down productions. As the international phenomenon rides into Nashville today for […]

Theater Review: A Stupendous ‘Suit’ Fits Perfectly at OZ

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With Peter Brook it’s the tale and not the teller that matters; many theater artists pay lip service to that idea, but Brook and his Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord colleagues actually show how that’s done. And because they have more interest in the questions than the answers we become active participants in the story […]

Film Review: Loyalty and Friendship in Gentle ‘Ernest & Celestine’


Ernest and Celestine packs a potent message about loyalty and friendship into its soft-pastel look. The Oscar-nominated and Cesar-winning film from the creative team behind Triplets of Belleville and The Secret of Kells is overall a gentle (though entertaining and at times quite boisterous) tale that is certainly geared for children but can be appreciated for its artistic value and thoughtful story […]

Theater Review: A Beautiful ‘Violet’ at Street Theatre Company


After viewing one of this weekend’s performances of Violet at Street Theatre Company I can see why Sutton Foster is leading a Broadway production of this lovely musical for the Roundabout Theatre Company. More importantly for here, though, I can also see why Cathy Sanborn Street, the multi-talented leader of STC, has been starring in […]

Theater Review: Grandeur and Ecstasy from Studio Tenn’s ‘Les Mis’


I knew those involved with Studio Tenn Theatre Company’s Les Misérables are first-class theater practitioners; the professional credits from local, New York and London productions on various bios attest to that, as does the consistently high quality of the troupe’s work since its 2009 founding. I’ve been in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center many times, so I […]

Film Review: Absolutism’s Destructive Power in ‘As It Is in Heaven’


“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10 “For the wisdom of this […]

‘Once’, ‘Kinky Boots’ & ‘Newsies’ in ’14-’15 Broadway@TPAC Season

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‘Book of Mormon’ Among Special Presentations in Strong Slate   The Tennessee Performing Arts Center today announced its upcoming 2014-15 HCA/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC series as well as special engagements that comprise one of its strongest slates ever. CEO Kathleen O’Brien unveiled the seven-show season package that features four productions in their first year on tour, […]

Film Review: Ambitious Genius and a Touch of (Delightful) Madness in ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’

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“What if (director) had made (film)?” is a favorite game for movie lovers. What if Stanley Kubrick had made Napoleon? What if David Lean had made Nostromo? What if Terry Gilliam had made Don Quixote (wait, he still may)? One of the more intriguing what-ifs concerns Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who came to be known […]

Book Review: A Loving Thanks for Life in ‘Shoebox Full of Toads’

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“I had to laugh,” Tim Ghianni writes early in his touching and intimate “Shoebox Full of Toads: Farewell to Mom” tribute. “You take joy on its own terms.” Ghianni’s insightful words come after one of his mother’s frequent battles with the effects of the genetic lung disorder that eventually claimed her life. In a book where […]

Film Review: Captivating and Suspenseful ‘Closer to God’ Cuts to the Marrow


“‘When younger…I believed myself destined for some great enterprise. My feelings are profound, but I possessed a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements. This sentiment of the worth of my nature supported me when others would have been oppressed, for I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talents […]

Theater Review: Friendship the Perfect Blendship for NCT’s ‘Lyle’


  “It’s friendship, friendship, Just a perfect blendship, When other friendships have been forgot Ours will still be hot!” – From “Friendship” by Cole Porter The lyrics cited above were going through my head again and again while watching the very entertaining Lyle the Crocodile at Nashville Children’s Theatre. Indeed, friendship, Lyle and NCT are a perfect […]