Blackbird Theater drew three top honors Sunday at the Midwinter’s First Night Awards.
The First Night Honors – the local theater industry association – annually recognizes the best of Nashville-based stage productions and performers.
First Night founder and executive producer Jeffrey Ellis presented Blackbird with the award for Outstanding Theatre Company of 2012. Blackbird also received the nod for Outstanding Play of 2012 for its production of RED.
“It’s very gratifying to receive this recognition of the hard work and passion of our casts, crews, designers, and directors, especially coming so early in our company’s history,” says Greg Greene, Blackbird’s Managing Director.
Ellis, who is also senior contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com, explains.
“In 2012, Blackbird Theater presented some of the most provocative and stimulating art to be seen on any stage any where in Tennessee. Their productions of Pacific Overtures and RED were inspiring, just as their earlier productions had been, but the company seemed to have hit their creative stride in 2012, challenging their audiences, their actors and themselves with their choices.
“Certainly, there are other companies worthy of recognition, but the courage and creativity shown by Blackbird Theater made them the ideal choice for Nashville’s Outstanding Theatre Company. They are worthy successors to the honor that has previously been given to Actors Bridge Ensemble and Boiler Room Theatre.
“I really admire the fact that Wes and Greg have such a clear vision for Blackbird and the tireless efforts they put forth – not just for their company, but in the best sense of the phrase, for all the people who have come to count on them for outstanding theater. They have lofty aspirations, which have been evident from the beginnings of Blackbird Theater and with each successive production since their very first one, they have exceeded what anyone could have expected from them. That’s why they were recognized at Midwinter’s First Night this year. They deserved the honor.”
Blackbird’s third award went to Mike Fernandez, chair of the Lipscomb University Department of Theatre, who won Outstanding Director of a Playfor RED.
“Mike Fernandez is one of the best directors in Nashville,” Ellis notes. “In fact, his production of Doubt had claimed a place on First Night’s Top Ten List of 2010. But with RED, he created – along with the other members of his team – one of the most startling theatrical offerings of this or any season. His laser-sharp focus and attention to detail, along with his eye for casting and his ear for what just sounds right, ensured that Red was a riveting, enlightening look at the difficulties of creating art. It was a spellbinding event, theater of a rare and special variety that Nashville audiences are clamoring for.
“I hadn’t seen RED prior to the Blackbird production – frankly, I’m very glad of that – and I went into the Shamblin Theatre anticipating something very special. I already knew how talented both Ronnie Meek and Justin Boccitto are, but I had no idea how transformative the experience of seeing them together in Red was going to be. I was completely caught up in the story, with deep admiration for the fearlessness of the two actors and the creative team that helped to bring this compelling play to the stage.”
Blackbird Theater’s third season continues with Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, opening March 8 at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theatre.