FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Studio Tenn Theatre Company starts their 2013-2014 season Thursday with an original production. Their musical revue The Hank Legacy: The Songs of Hank Williams runs through Sept. 15 at the Franklin Theatre.
For Managing Director Jake Speck and Artistic Director Matt Logan the chance to produce an original tribute to the late great Hank Williams could not be passed up. Nashville natives themselves, Logan and Speck are “very interested in music and stories from this part of the country,” Speck says. “Our hometown played a significant role in Hank’s life and career; we’re extremely gratified by the opportunity to tip our hats to him our own way.”
While Speck and Logan have each been involved with the development of many new plays and musicals over their careers, this will be the first premiere production for Studio Tenn. “It’s a great privilege to be able to create a new show with Studio Tenn’s own local and regional audience in mind,” says Logan, who together with Speck has created the piece. Pair that with the fine acoustics and intimacy of the historic Franklin Theatre (419 Main St.) – mere miles from Williams’ former residence in Leiper’s Fork – and you have what Logan feels is a “a recipe for an unforgettable entertainment experience that cannot, by definition, happen anywhere else.”
The production of The Hank Legacy: The Songs of Hank Williams will follow a musical revue format much like last season’s highly-lauded Smokey Joe’s Cafe that draws on an acting troupe’s vocal and instrumental talents. With no one player cast as Hank the songs themselves will be the stars of this show.
“We think this approach showcases the extent to which Hank’s iconic music has truly permeated our culture,” Logan says. “His work still resonates – not just in the country music world, but throughout many genres of American popular music. To demonstrate his music’s versatility is to make a case for its enduring relevance.”
Some of the talent appearing in the production are Studio Tenn veterans, such as its Music Director and cast member Don Chaffer (Big River), Carrie Tillis (Hello, Dolly!, Guys & Dolls, Big River) and Libby Hodges (Smokey Joe’s Cafe). New to Studio Tenn are singer/songwriters Val Storey, Jillian Edwards, Will Solomon, Matt Haeck, as well as Patrick Thomas, who was top 16 in season one of NBC’s popular TV show “The Voice.”
Speck and Logan hope The Hank Legacy: The Songs of Hank Williams will be the first of multiple Studio Tenn originals. “Our mission is to keep professional theatre alive and thriving in Middle Tennessee,” says Speck. “One means to that end is to stage well-loved classic pieces with fresh, contemporary interpretations; another is to embrace opportunities to periodically contribute something new to the repertoire.”
*Cast photo of (top, l-r): Jared Manzo, Will Solomon, Don Chaffer, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, Libby Hodges, Patrick Thomas and (front, l-r): Matt Haeck, Val Storey, Jillian Edwards, Carrie Tillis courtesy Studio Tenn.