Eight individuals with significant contributions to Nashville theater are members of the 2012 Class of First Night Honorees. Their names were announced Monday night by First Night founder and executive producer Jeffrey Ellis during the annual First Night Preview Party at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre.
In addition to those honorees, nine men were named as recipients of this year’s First Night Star Awards and 18 younger performers were named as Most Promising Actors.
This year’s list of First Night Honorees include Maggi Bowden and Sue Stinemetz, whose work together as producers spanned decades of involvement in local theatre, primarily with Circle Players and ACT 1; Maryanna Clarke and Chris Clarke, the couple who’ve made Tennessee Women’s Theater Project a theatrical force here; Mary Jane Harville, actress/director/educator, who is one of the best-known and most-acclaimed actors ever associated with Tennessee Repertory Theatre; Jackie Welch Schlicher, another of Tennessee Rep’s brightest names, who is also a teacher, speaker and improv comedy star; Chambers Stevens, who made his mark in Nashville theater as an actor/director/playwright and was co-founder of Nashville Shakespeare Festival before moving to Los Angeles, where he continues to win fans as a playwright and performer while working with younger actors to develop their skills; and Paul Vasterling, the artistic director and CEO of Nashville Ballet, who has brought both national and international recognition to the Music City.
Recipients of The First Night Star Award include: actor/director/playwright Matthew Carlton; co-founders of Blackbird Theatre Wes Driver and Greg Greene; Circle Players president and veteran director Tim Larson; Studio Tenn Theatre Company artistic director Matt Logan; noted set designer and local theater veteran Jim Manning; producer/director/actor Johnny Peppers; Eric Ventress, executive director of ACT 1; and playwright/actor/director Shawn Whitsell, who heads up The Destiny Theatre Experience. Last year the First Night Star Awards were an all-female category, so this year it’s being awarded to men; in future years, both men and women will be cited for the prize.
Named as 2012’s Most Promising Actors are: Maya Abram, Blair Allison, Christian Albright-Redden, Delaney Amatrudo, Tyler Ashley, Douglas Corzine, Gina D’Arco, Spencer Dean, Katelyn Michelle Fiorini, Ryan Garrett, Matt Hunter, Piper Jones, Stephen Michael Jones, Zane Jordan, Kevin Mead, Caleb Reynolds, Whitney Vaughn and Luciano Vignola. The Most Promising Actors will perform in a special production number during the First Night Gala on Sunday, Sept. 2.
First Night Honorees will be feted during that gala, which will be held in Belmont University’s Troutt Theatre. The Red Carpet rolls out at 5:30 p.m. and tickets to the event are $25. Contact FirstNightNashville@clearwire.net for more information.
*Poster art by David Arnold and medal designed by Michael Adcock and Jeffrey Ellis courtesy First Night Honors.