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Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?

Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars

Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.

Michael Campayno
 
pic-showplace-katieKatie Rose Clarke
 
Ramona Keller
 
Edward Watts
 
 pic-showplace-larrydLarry Daggett
 
 

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

The Oliver Experiment, directed by Jen Bender, is the latest developing musical in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Showplace Memphis is sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City.  Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first two musicals in the festival included Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Midsummer Night.

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?

Unbeknownst to young Ollie, he is the beloved star of The Oliver Experiment — “Now in it’s 19th year!” — a fanciful piece of theatre magic concocted by his over-protective father to give his son a life of music and innocence and Happily-Ever-Afters.  With its colorful cast and ever-evolving storylines, the magnificent secret is maintained at all costs… until the night Ollie notices a beautiful, young understudy in the chorus.

Writers Jeff Thomson and Jeremy Desmon explore the lengths we go to in order to protect the ones we love in this funny, tuneful, and theatrical coming-of-age story.

The cast includes Michael Campayno (Ollie) last seen in NBC’s Sound of Music; Katie Rose Clarke (Annabelle) of Broadway’s Wicked, Light in the Piazza, and the upcoming Allegiance; Ramona Keller (Guardian Angel) of Broadway’s Smokey Joe’s Café and the original cast of Caroline, or Change; Molly Ranson of Broadway’s August: Osage County, Jerusalem, and Fish in the Dark as well as Off-Broadway’s Carrie, Bad Jews, and The Burnt Part Boys; Larry Daggett, who created the role of Henry Ford in Ragtime on Broadway; and Edward Watts (Swill Swindley) currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks in NYC, and recently in Scandalous on Broadway, also It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella at the NYC Opera, and Show Boat at Lincoln Center.

The Oliver Experiment creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, The Oliver Experiment will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  Few other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of The Oliver Experiment immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

Artist Bios

Jen Bender+ (Director) is the Director of Programming and Artist Services and a Founding Producer of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Her Broadway credits include The Lion King (Resident Director), Honeymoon in Vegas, Avenue Q, The Wedding Singer, Steel Magnolias (Associate Director), and Sweet Smell of Success (Music Assistant). She toured North America, Asia, and Australia as the Assistant Artistic Director of Cirque du Soleil's Ovo and directed the world premiere of Do You Hear the People Sing: The Dream Concert by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, featuring Lea Salonga, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Terrence Mann. She is a co-founder of Broadway in South Africa, a non-profit arts empowerment organization for children in need. Jen is a graduate of Northwestern University. (www.jenbenderonline.com)

Michael Campayno* (Ollie), a Pittsburgh native and the youngest of six children, was last seen in NBC's Sound of Music Live as Rolf Gruber.  While in Pittsburgh, Michael performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, was a Gene Kelly Award recipient, and received his training from Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama.  Favorite roles include Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Gabe in Next to Normal, and he also appeared in All Shook Up at North Shore Music Theater.  Follow him @MCampayno.

Katie Rose Clarke* (Annabelle) Broadway: Allegiance (Hannah Campbell) premiering this Autumn, Wicked (Glinda the Good), and Light in the Piazza (Clara).  National Tours: Wicked and Light in the Piazza.  Regional Theatre: Last Five Years (Cathy Hiatt; winner, Best Actress, Connecticut Critics Circle Award 2014) at Long Wharf Theatre; Prayer for My Enemy (Marianne Noone).  Television: The Good Wife (CBS), Live from Lincoln Center Presents: The Light in the Piazza.  Film: Maybe There’s a Tree (Independent Film).  Katie holds a BFA from Sam Houston State University.

Larry Daggett* (Ollie's Father) Credits include: Ragtime (Henry Ford; original Broadway cast), Candide (NYC Opera), Red, Hot, and Cole (Cole Porter, National Tour), My Fair Lady (Doolittle/Pickering), Man of La Mancha (Quixote/Carrasco), A Little Night Music (Fredrik), Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin), Follies (Ben), Damn Yankees (Applegate), Amadeus (Salieri cover), Souvenir (Cosme), This Wonderful Life (36 characters), The Full Monty (Harold), Annie (Rooster), Drood (Crisparkle), Sunset Boulevard (Max), 1776 (R.H. Lee), and more, at theatres which include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arkansas Repertory, Asolo, Barrington Stage, Barnstormers, Cape Fear Regional, Cleveland Play House, Fulton Opera, Goodspeed Opera, Lyric Stage Co. of Boston, Music Theatre of Connecticut, New Harmony, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Portland Center Stage, Sierra Repertory, Theatre League of Kansas City, White Plains PAC, Wilma Theatre, among others. www.larrydaggett.com

Jeremy Desmon (Bookwriter and Lyricist) is an award-winning writer whose stories have played around the world.  The Girl in the Frame, seen in over a dozen productions, earned him the prestigious Edward Kleban Prize as America’s most promising Musical Theatre Bookwriter.  Mr. Desmon is best known for the rock musical Pump Up the Volume, Good News, 7½ Wondrous Act(s) of True Love, Surviving The Avalanche, and his high-school musical, Cyrano de BurgerShack.  In addition, he writes “family theatrical”/touring arena shows for some of the world’s most recognizable characters in Disney Live’s Mickey’s Music Festival!, Universal’s Curious George Live!, and Sesame Workshop’s Elmo Rocks!  He is proud to have written multiple editions of The Greatest Show on Earth for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (www.jeremydesmon.com)

Ramona Keller* (Guardian Angel) made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe's Cafe and originated the roles of Ms. Paradice in BKLYN the Musical and Radio 1 in Caroline, or Change on Broadway and in London’s Royal National Theater.  Select regional credits include Dreamgirls, Lonestar Love, Beehive, The Buddy Holly Story, Hugh Jackman’s musical revue In Time and the female lead in Handel's Messiah Rocks!  Ramona has performed with New York Pops, Bay Atlantic Symphony, and Grand Rapids Orchestras.  She most recently appeared in the Encores! Off-Center musical theater series in Little Shop of Horrors alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Greene.

Jeff Thomson (Composer) is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Dramatist Guild Musical Theatre Writing Fellowship.  His original musical Trails was performed at the Los Angeles and New York Musical Theatre Festivals, winning him the NYMF award for Best Music as well as the Stage Entertainment Development Award.  Recently, Trails made its international debut in Tokyo, Japan.  Other projects include the club musical adaptation of the cult film Jawbreaker, and the arena rock musical adaptation of the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume.  He was commissioned by Broadway Across America to compose the score to the upcoming children's musical Madlibs Live! and was selected to write the music for an upcoming animated movie musical for Amazon Studios.  He is currently developing two musical motion pictures. (www.jeffthomsonmusic.com)

Edward Watts* (Swill Swindley) is currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks at the Jerry Orbach theater in NYC.  Broadway/NYC: Scandalous (Robert/David), It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman (Superman) at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella (Joe) at the NYC Opera, Show Boat (Steve) at Lincoln Center, Transport (Delamare) at The Irish Rep.  Tours: The Little Mermaid (King Triton), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Adam Pontipee), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston).  Favorite regional: Roman Holiday (Joe Bradley) at The Guthrie, Les Miserables (Javert) at Dallas Theater Center, 1776 (Thomas Jefferson) at Goodspeed Opera,  Funny Thing…Forum (Miles - Helen Hayes nomination for Best Supporting Actor) at The Shakespeare Theatre D.C.  TV: "The Sopranos", "Rescue Me", "The Carrie Diaries", "All My Children".  Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. EdwardWatts.net

* AEA member
+ SSDC member

Seating is general admission; first come/first seated.  Tickets are on sale now.  Students 22 and younger and Seniors 62 and older receive discounted $10 tickets.

The Oliver Experiment will be presented on the Mainstage inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building, which is located on the main campus at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis, TN.

Purchase tickets now in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located at 3092 Village Shops Drive in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org

The TSC Box Office inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building also will begin selling tickets on the day of the performance one hour prior to curtain (6:00 pm).  Free parking is available in the Central Avenue parking lot, beginning at 7:00 pm, directly across from the U of M Theatre Building.  No refunds.  Cast is subject to change.

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News

  • Midsummer Night
  • AC Wharton, Jr. Visits Romeo and Juliet Project in Action
  • Romeo and Juliet Project - 4th Year
  • Memphis Shakespeare Training Intensive

Midsummer Night

Live music, glow sticks, and power chords!
Featuring Broadway’s Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony

Memphis, TN (June 15, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its second developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with Midsummer Night by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn on June 27 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

Midsummer Night, directed by Janet Roston, is the second of three developing musicals in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Broadway's Katrina Lenk

 Eric B. Anthony

Broadway's Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony 

Sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first musical in Showplace Memphis last month was a very successful reading of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  The final musical will be a charming and surprising new piece, The Oliver Experiment (August 15).

TRW has selected the musicals, and the Actors’ Equity casts and directors are coming from all around the country and Memphis.

The cast includes Broadway’s Katrina Lenk (Once; Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark; The Miracle Worker) as Titania and Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King; Hairspray; Mary Poppins) as Puck.

Songwriters Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda join with co-creator/director Janet Roston (Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Rock Opera Company) for this new take on William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The musical is set within a modern-day rock festival.  It’s a rollicking collision of rock music, iambic pentameter, and hipsters – where rock stars Titania and Oberon quarrel, festival assistant Puck creates havoc, and roadie Bottom gets a chance to shine.  

Keyboardist Milburn and electric violinist Vigoda have been singing and writing songs together for over 20 years, first for their band GrooveLily, and more recently for musical theatre and film.  Theatre:  Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison, Wheelhouse, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Short Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, its complete reworking as the rock musical Midsummer Night, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.  Film: many songs for Tinker Bell for Disney animated movies.  Additional music is provided by Gene Lewin.   

The Midsummer Night creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, Midsummer Night will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of Midsummer Night immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

Read More

Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. to Visit Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet Project in Action at East High School Monday, March 23

March 17, 2015 – Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. announced today he will observe first-hand Tennessee Shakespeare Company teaching and playing its Romeo and Juliet Project with 100 ninth graders in four simultaneous sessions at East High School on Monday, March 23 at 9:00 am.

“On behalf of TSC and our Board of Directors, I am so proud and honored to have Mayor Wharton joining our teachers in the classroom,” said Project creator and TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.  “It was at the Mayor’s urging we created this Project, and I am excited for him to see his challenge come to positive life.”

pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company began its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency in the Memphis area in January.  The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school.  Students are guided by the actors to live the play’s urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict.  Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students’ compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools.  At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project.  That figure represents 34% of all freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

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pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company Kicks Off Fourth Year of Nationally-Recognized ROMEO AND JULIET PROJECT

  • 27 Schools
  • 44 Performances
  • 342 Classroom Visits
  • 4,360 High School Freshmen


(January 15, 2015) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company has begun its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency The Romeo and Juliet Project in the Memphis area this week, starting with Germantown High School and all of its 530 Freshmen.

The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school. Students are guided by the actors to live the play's urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating Freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict. The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools. At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project. That figure represents 34% of all Freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students' compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

Read More

Actors May Now Apply for The Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive

pic-dave-demke
Pictured: Dave Demke

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is now accepting applications for its Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive, running July 24 - 26, hosted by the University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance.

Click here for the Application/Deposit form.  Only 7 more participant slots are available.

The Schedule

Friday, July 24 from 6pm - 10pm
Saturday, July 25 from 10am - 10pm
Sunday, July 26 from 10am - 4pm. 

Adequate time is allotted for meal breaks.

Is This for You?

This work is designed to serve both professional and aspiring actors, age 21 and older, who want to speak Shakespeare with clarity, skill, and passion.  The Intensive is strategically limited to 12 participants to ensure that everyone receives personal coaching and attention.

What is the Intensive Training?

Exercises in Linklater voice, Alexander and Trish Arnold movement, and text work based on John Barton's work and Neil Freeman's First Folio research, will be used to free up breath, voice, impulses, imagination, and the actor's intelligence.  Individual monologue coaching will focus on developing a personal, passionate connection to Shakespeare's text.  Participants can expect to leave the Intensive personally enriched and enlightened.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis

logo-ibank

Theatrical Rights Worldwide

First Tenneessee Foundation

Tennessee Arts Commission


Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy and Dan Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest, Milton T. Schaeffer, The Family of Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Theatrical Rights Worldwide,
and The University of Memphis.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       ArtsMemphis    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association