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Home > Past Buzz > After unforeseen delays, Circle Players' 'Fame: The Musical' final performances August 14, 15 & 16


August 13, 2009
Nashville Entertainment Examiner
By Jonathan Pinkerton


Circle Players' Fame: The Musical gets their finale. Photo courtesy Hatcher and Fell Photography.

As I mentioned in my review of Circle Players production of Fame: The Musical last week, the news of the Nashville debut brought back childhood memories. Each week, while the all too familiar theme blasted from my family's floor model television, I couldn't wait to hear Debbie Allen as dance teacher Lydia Grant speak the words, "You got big dreams, you want fame? Well, fame costs, and right here's where you start paying in sweat."

When I met a group of friends at the Looby Theatre last Thursday night to see the show, I was reminded of the words spoken in the opening; in part because the Looby Theatre was sweltering hot. Little did I realize the heat of the theatre wasn't simply generating from the talented volunteer actors, dancers and singers who make up the large cast of Circle's 60th season debut show, but the venue itself was having issues with their air conditioning unit.

According to a press release from the non-profit community theatre group, "Circle Players has extended its successful run of Fame: The Musical after the unexpected cancellation of two shows by Metro Parks Theater Department due to a malfunctioning A/C system at Looby Theatre." I spoke with the show's producer, LaTonya Turner last night to get a little more information about the cancellation and how Circle handled it. LaTonya told me they had noticed the building wasn't cooling as it should and had made a few calls, but it wasn't until last Friday night's near sell-out crowd that the situation really became unbearable.

As soon as they got the word that Metro Parks Theatre Department was canceling what would have been last weekend's final three shows of the successful run, Circle Players began calling ticket holders to inform them of the news. "Before we knew we would be able to add the 3 shows this weekend, refunds were issues to all pre-paid ticket holders," said LaTonya. "This was completed by Sunday afternoon by Regine McClain and Mel Fowler (both board members and volunteers), who directly contacted dozens of patrons by phone and email to explain the situation, offer apologies, and alert them to the refunds," she continued.

Phone calls and emails weren't the only steps Circle Players took to spread the news. Turner, who not only is producing Fame, but is also VP of Circle Players, and Board President, Jim Manning were also on site both Saturday and Sunday to personally greet patrons who had not received word of the cancellation. LaTonya recalled, "We had several patrons show up to buy tickets at the box office both Saturday and Sunday." She also revealed, "While everyone was disappointed, all ticket-holders were very understanding and many committed to returning should we be able to reschedule the shows."

That took care of the audience, but what about the cast. As with any show, closing weekend is a huge event. It's not only a time to embrace the excitement of weeks of rehearsals and budding friendship, but also a time to celebrate with family and friends the accomplishments achieved by being part of something truly special. LaTonya told me that several of the cast members had even made plans for family and friends to fly in for closing weekend.

"Simultaneous to the efforts to alert the pubic, Teresa Driver (stage manager) and Kate Adams-Johnson,the show's choreographer, assisted by our director, Tim Larson, contacted the cast and crew and began spreading the word via texts, Facebook, etc., about the cancellations." In the true spirit of the theatre and the bonds it creates, LaTonya shared that many of the cast, crew and even their family members showed up at both nights to offer assistance and moral support to each other on what was to have been closing weekend.

After a meeting with Circle Players' Board Members and Metro Parks Theatre Department this past Monday, it was decided that the cast, crew, volunteers and perhaps most importantly, the audience would get their closing weekend!

With closing weekend reschedule for Friday and Saturday, August 14 and 15 @ 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday, August 16 2:00 p.m. matinee, Circle was faces with yet another daunting task, informing the actors, production crew and of course, Circle Player's supporters and friends. "After we were able to reschedule the shows on Monday evening, everyone went to work getting the word out; the creative team checked with equipment vendors and musicians about continuing the production; advertisers and sponsors were notified and reassured; and the online ticketing through Agile was revised so that patrons could start buying tickets within hours of adding the three shows," said LaTonya.

"Amazingly, every single cast member committed to continuing the show once we had received additional dates from Metro Parks," beamed LaTonya. She went on to praise the efforts of Circle's volunteer staff, board, crew and actors by saying, "In my opinion, all these things represent the dedication of Circle's volunteers--both on and off stage; the trust of its advertisers and donors; and the efficiency of its procedures and services, which allowed us to manage this crisis quickly while working toward a solution." One final note from LaTonya, "Now, we need our patrons to go the distance with us and return for the final shows of this excellent production!"

That dedication to the show and to seeing it through to the end is one more reason Circle Players has survived for 60 seasons. I can just hear Lydia Grant tapping her cane on the dance studio floor in approval.

Fame: The Musical concludes its run at the cooler than ever Looby Theatre, located at 2301 Rosa Parks Blvd. near Metro Center with three shows:
Friday, August 14 @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 15 @ 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 16 @ 2:30 p.m.

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