I love a great story! Especially a story with really outstanding characters who work together and create fantastic outcomes and maybe even change the world…and I love a story that has a happy ending and it’s even better if it’s all true!
Want to hear a story with all of those elements? Because it’s here – right in Franklin and it’s going to make you feel really good.
But first I have a confession – there was so much I didn’t know about Franklin before I moved here. I mean I had only spent a total of 4 days here. The really fun thing is that I continue to be dazzled by each new discovery that this little town (that is NOT so little) has to offer.
My recent discovery is Studio Tenn, the theatre company who’s new home is in The Factory in Franklin.
Okay…maybe I’m a little slow to discover this, but last weekend one of my sweet blog readers, Netta Scott, took me to Studio Tenn’s production of Steel Magnolias and it was fantastic! I’m a huge fan of this play and thus…I went with high expectations. And you know what? This play fulfilled all of my hopes and far exceeded my expectations!
Well, by now you know me…and you know that if the Managing Director of Studio Tenn is standing in the lobby during intermission greeting the guests…I’m going to say hello! And hello led to a Friday afternoon spent with Jake Speck, (who by the way…spent 2 years on Broadway in cast of Jersey Boys.) Jake is one talented man. So grab a cup of coffee and sit back while I share the story of Studio Tenn with you.
To say that Jake Speck, Managing Director and Matt Logan, Artistic Director are talented guys is a bit of an understatement. Their credentials are beyond impressive and their passion and dedication for their work is inspiring. Jake has a long line of acting credentials with his most recent success being a two year run on Broadway in Jersey Boys. Matt is also an actor, but he is more well known for his artistic eye and keen sense of creative genius behind the scenes. He brings theatre to life and he has also received national acclaim as a Broadway illustrator.
I sat down with Jake because Matt was doing a fitting for the upcoming play, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Studio Tenn began as a dream…literally a dream. Jake was performing 8 shows a week on Broadway;was totally focused on his acting career; was creatively driven, but one night he dreamt that he and Matt, together, created a theater company in Nashville, Tennessee and that it succeeded! I had chills when he shared how his dream became a reality.
“I had a dream…I realized that my priorities were changing and that I didn’t want to do 8 shows a week and have a family. I wrote Matt an email hoping he would tell me no, but he said, yes and it all started to happen.”
Unbeknownst to Jake, Matt had been in talks about forming a theatre company in Nashville as well. After much talking and even joking around about the imaginary theatre company, finally in 2009 Philip and Marguerite Hall and Matt Logan formed Studio Tenn. Jake quit Jersey Boys and moved back home to Nashville with no funding…no pay…but with a very big dream filled with optimism.
It was a huge leap of faith and the first show, Our Town was performed in the Loveless Barn to a sell out audience. It was a big moment and from there and still without any funding, Studio Tenn grew. “We funded the first season $500 at a time.” They created theatre magic without a real home…always performing in locations that would donate the space and on a shoestring budget.
But here’s the thing about dreams…sometimes with a whole lot of hard work, dedication and an abundance of teamwork and trust…they succeed! And that’s exactly what happened to Studio Tenn.
Built slowly but surely and never with a huge benefactor in their back pocket, they’ve gone the extra mile to bring the gift of excellence in live theater to Franklin.
By the way…do not think about calling this a community theatre production company. As Jake told me, “We are not interested in being a cute local theatre company. We want great. We strive for great and so far, we’ve achieved it. We want to also be great on a National scale.” We take this seriously and we cast the absolute best. 90% of our actors are from the Middle Tennessee area, but sometimes we do our casting out of New York.”
“Studio Tenn is providing the community of Franklin with something they’ve never had before and the response has been amazing. There’s so much more purpose when the community gets behind you. It’s just been awesome!”
This season they moved from The Franklin Theatre to their permanent home at The Factory in Franklin. Three plays remain during the 2014/2015 Season. To capture the magic of the Christmas season, It’s a Wonderful Life will come to life on stage beginning on December 4 and running through December 21. What a perfect way to celebrate with the family with this beloved Frank Capra classic.
If you’ve ever loved Johnny Cash, then you won’t want to miss The Cash Legacy: A Tribute to the Man in Black beginning February 19 through March 1, 2015. This is an all-new original production and Jake and Matt promise to share Johnny Cash with us like we’ve never known before.
And to finish out the season, Studio Tenn is taking us on an adventure in Oz with an extravaganza production of The Wizard of Oz. On June 13th and 14th, you’ll be able to experience this beloved production at Schermerhorn Symphony Center with the complete symphony orchestra supporting this production. This is a not-to-be-missed event.
Tickets are available at Studio Tenn and I can assure you that a ticket or tickets to one of these plays would make someone very, very happy. What a unique and memorable gift!
Before I left the offices, I had the absolute joy of hanging out with Matt Logan for a few minutes in Wardrobe! Okay…seriously…if you know me at all…then you know I was practically beside myself…vintage clothes…jewelry…mannequins being fitted…clothing being transformed. I love this sort of thing!
And guess what? They are always needing donations of clothes and jewelry – even furniture…so before you throw that “dusty old thing” away…get in touch with Studio Tenn and see if they might just want to use it in a production. Maybe you’ll see your old coat strutting across the stage.
Studio Tenn is a gift to us…let’s give them our total community support. I’m glad Jake had his dream and even happier that Matt said, YES.
What’s been your favorite Studio Tenn experience?
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