Photo Coverage: Backstage at the First Night Nashville Theatre Honors
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by Jeffrey Ellis
With a cast of 125 performers, a seven-member band, the show's running crew and a smattering of other people holding forth, the backstage scene at last Sunday night's First Night Nashville Theatre Honors was a virtual stage show in itself with all the hustle and bustle amid the hushed tones associated with the backstage area of a huge theatrical production.
Rehearsals at Belmont University's Troutt Theater started at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 18, with the casts of scens from ten different plays going through the paces of their performances, while music director Jane Kelley Watt and her musicians moved into the space at noon, followed closely by peformers from the various musical numbers that were highlights of the Sunday night program.
The fast pace of Saturday's rehearsal continued on Sunday afternoon as cast members gathered to run through the show's finale - a performance of "Sunday" from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George - and to rehearse individual musical performances.
"This was strictly Jef's baby; I was just along for the ride," Watt said during Sunday's last-minute preparations. Watt, who had music directed the earlier incarnations of Nashville's First Night Theatre Awards from 1991 through 1996, had begun work on the musical program for 2010 last February, shortly after plans were announced to revive the Music City theater tradition.
Photographer Rick Malkin, who covered most of First Night Week's festivities, pulled double-duty during the weekend by playing drums in the First Night Orchestra under Watt's direction.