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Melinda Doolittle, JOHNNYSWIM and More Star in Studio Tenn’s “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”

Grammy Award-Winning Musical Revue Runs Sept 20-Oct 7

American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle will lead a standout cast of powerhouse vocalists in Studio Tenn Theatre Company’s first musical production of its 2012-2013 season, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, opening September 20 at the historic Franklin Theatre. Individual and Season Tickets are now on sale at and at the Franklin Theatre Box Office, (615) 538-2076.

“I could not be more excited to be a part of Studio Tenn’s ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ with such an amazing cast from all over the country,” said Doolittle, who was launched to international fame as a season six contestant of American Idol. “Studio Tenn is best known in this region for putting on flawless and exciting professional theater, and this show in particular has the musical and historical significance to further that trend.”

A Grammy Award-winning rock-and-roll revue, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” celebrates songwriters Leiber and Stoller’s beloved catalog of classics from the 1950s and ’60s, including hits made famous by Elvis Presley, Peggy Lee, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin and more.

Starring with Doolittle in Studio Tenn’s production are husband and wife pop duo Abner and Amanda Ramirez, known together as JOHNNYSWIM. Amanda is the daughter of the late great first lady of disco, Donna Summer. While the duo is based in Los Angeles, they have roots in Nashville.

The cast also includes top-notch local performers Libby Hodges, Ryan Greenawalt and Laura Matula (whom Studio Tenn fans will recognize for her unforgettable performance as the flamboyant Miss Adelaide in last year’s debut musical “Guys and Dolls”). Joining Nashville’s finest are Kansas City’s Harvey Hubert and Birmingham’s John-Mark McGaha.

“This cast of singers is, in a word, ‘unreal’,” said Jake Speck, Managing Director of Studio Tenn and a veteran Broadway performer. “I know this may sound blasphemous, but vocally, this cast blows the original Broadway cast out of the water. These are eight of the best singers I’ve ever heard–period. We are just beside ourselves to have landed such an extraordinary concentration of vocal talent for this show,” which Speck describes as “a nonstop avalanche” of 39 rock and roll and R&B standards, including “Jailhouse Rock”, “Hound Dog”, “Stand By Me”, “Kansas City”, “I’m a Woman”, and many more.

“Our concept and take on the show is to strip away a lot of the Broadway and Vegas feel of it and focus more on the unbelievable Leiber & Stoller music catalog,” said Speck. “For inspiration, we went back to the original recordings of all these great songs. We are taking the show back to its roots.”

Speck will serve as Executive Producer for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” and Studio Tenn’s other principle Matt Logan is Director and Designer. Joining them are Choreographer Emily Tello and Musical Director and Conductor Steve Kummer.

Tickets for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” are available now at or at the Box Office, (615) 538-2076. Season tickets are also still available for a limited time. Season Ticket holders receive a 20% discount on admission to each of the five shows in Studio Tenn’s expanded 2012-2013 season: “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, “Twelve Angry Men” (staged at the historic Williamson County Courthouse), Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, “Big River”, and “My Fair Lady”. For more information, visit


Twenty-six Businesses Open Until 9 p.m.; Donate Proceeds

THIS JUST IN! The Franklin Theatre is offering a $25 ticket for the Paula Cole performance this Saturday night AND will donate 15% of those tickets sold to the World Wildlife Fund, a charity the Grammy-award winning artist supports!

The Dog Days promo code: dogdays2012

Instructions on how to redeem promo code:

1. Go to and click on the “Paula Cole” event (under “Music”)

2. On the Event page, click on the button that says: “Know a promotion code?”

3. In the popup box, enter the promo code “dogdays2012″ (not case-sensitive) and click “submit.”  A new discounted ticket option will be revealed (it is labeled “classic dog days promotion”). They are $25 classic section tickets.

4. Select tickets as usual and proceed to checkout


FRANKLIN, Tenn.—A group of downtown Franklin merchants will support local charities on Friday, July 20 through their sales as part of a “Dog Days of Summer” promotion coordinated by the Downtown Franklin Association.

The 26 participating businesses will leave their doors open later and donate 15 percent of sales between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to a non-profit organization of their choice. For many of the downtown Franklin merchants, this is an opportunity to support a cause that is near and dear to both their customers’ and their own hearts.

The Registry, a high-end shop for fine tableware, gifts and bridal registry on Main Street, chose to donate its “Dog Days of Summer” proceeds to Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center because of a recent personal tragedy that has connected the business to the treatment center.

“We chose Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center because co-founder Barbara Harlin is waging a battle with colon cancer and being treated there,” said The Registry Co-owner Carla Myers. “We love her and want to do everything possible to support her in her fight.”

Four businesses have chosen to rally around Williamson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization devoted to the best interests of abused or neglected children. City Farmhouse, McCreary’s Irish Pub, Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant and Puckett’s Boat House will all donate 15 percent of the night’s proceeds to the Franklin non-profit. City Farmhouse will offer a special gift certificate opportunity for customers who donate to the cause.

“We are extremely excited to be involved in this event because one of our biggest needs is community awareness and involvement,” said Williamson County CASA Director of Development and Public Relations Danielle McMorran. “I have no doubt these partnerships will be instrumental in spreading awareness towards our mission to serve abused and neglected children. We appreciate this so much.”

DFA Director Nancy Williams said the promotion is designed to show support for community organizations through a collaborative effort among local downtown merchants. She encourages the public to “shop for a cause” with the businesses.

Merchants have chosen non-profits ranging from animal welfare organizations and domestic violence centers to home restoration associations. With the exception of Chick-fil-A South Franklin on Columbia Avenue and Olivia Olive Oil in Cool Springs, the participating merchants are all located within a four-block walking distance.

The DFA’s merchant members are dedicated to the continued revitalization and promotion of Historic Downtown Franklin. To learn more about the event, visit

Participating merchants include:

  • Avec Moi
  • Boutique MMM
  • Chik-fil-A South Franklin
  • The Cellar
  • City Farmhouse
  • For Every Child
  • Good Findings, Inc.
  • Heart & Hands
  • The Heirloom Shop
  • Johnnie Q
  • JONDIE Boutique
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Kelly Spalding Designs
  • LuLu’s Clothing Co.
  • McCreary’s Irish Pub
  • Olivia Olive Oil
  • Philanthropy
  • Puckett’s Boat House
  • Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant
  • ReDo Home & Design
  • The Registry
  • Serendipity Skincare & Cosmetics
  • The Shoppes on Main
  • Sweet CeCe’s Franklin
  • Thomas Kinkeade Gallery
  • Yarrow Acres


Macey Baird
Sheridan Public Relations, LLC
1143 Columbia Avenue
Franklin, TN 37064
615.472.8879 (office)

Franklin Theatre to Host Midnight Movies This Summer

Series Kicks Off Friday, June 15 with “The Big Lebowski”

Midnight Movies at the Franklin TheatreThe Franklin Theatre will host late-night cult classic movie screenings this summer for patrons 21 and up. The 2012 Midnight Movie series will include “The Big Lebowski” on Friday, June 15, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” on Friday, July 20, and “Airplane!” on Friday, August 17. Tickets are just $5 and are now available online at or by calling the theatre Box Office at (615) 538-2076.

Patrons are encouraged to come in costume to these screenings. Each event will feature prizes and coordinating drink specials, such as White Russians at The Big Lebowski. All patrons wishing to purchase alcohol must present a valid ID to receive a wrist band.

The late-night movies are returning this summer due to popular demand. During the summer of 2011, the Franklin Theatre sold out two late-night screenings each of “The Big Lebowski” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“Airplane!” another cult classic comedy, will show at the Franklin Theatre for the first time the night of August 17.

The Mel Brooks Western parody “Blazing Saddles” will also show at 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, as part of the Franklin Theatre’s “Wild West Weekend”–a themed celebration of the venue’s first anniversary. The Wild West Weekend will also feature a concert by Western swing band The Time Jumpers on Friday, June 22 at 8 p.m. and Saturday movie screenings of the Don Bluth animated classic “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the original “True Grit” starring John Wayne at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Ranger Doug from Riders in the Sky will be on hand to host and entertain throughout the day.

Originally built in 1937, the Franklin Theatre re-opened to the public on June 3, 2011 following a multi-year, multi-million-dollar restoration. The Main Street landmark is owned and operated by the nonprofit Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. More information is available online at

Franklin Theatre’s First Year Celebration June 22-23


In the spirit of its grand reopening in June of 2011, the Franklin Theatre will host its first anniversary celebration with a weekend of activities and entertainment on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23. While last year’s grand reopening was inspired by classic 1930s films, this year’s celebration will take on the theme of another beloved genre of old Hollywood: the Wild West–and will feature award-winning live music of the same vein.

The Wild Western Weekend will kickoff Friday, June 22 with a concert by the world renowned Western swing band “The Time Jumpers.”The award-winning and Grammy nominated Time Jumpers evolved from casual jam sessions among Nashville’s studio elite to become known for their tight arrangements, soulful singers, brilliant soloists and an irresistible swinging rhythm. Tickets for this performance go on sale to the public Friday, June 1 at and at the Box Office, (615) 538-2076.

On Saturday, June 23, Ranger Doug, “The Idol of American Youth” from Nashville’s famed cowboy quartet “Riders in the Sky” will entertain patrons and host a full day of Western movies, storytellings, games and activities at the Franklin Theatre.

Film screenings will begin with kid-friendly morning and matinee showings of the Don Bluth animated classic “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., followed by the original 1969 “True Grit” starring John Wayne at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Entertainment will continue late into the evening with a late-night screening of Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” for patrons age 21 and up. Attendees are encouraged to dress up. This late-night screening will featured themed drink specials, costume contests, prizes and giveaways. Tickets to these movie screenings are just $5 and are on sale now at

Franklin Theatre Celebrates Year of Accomplishments

From Charity Case to Social, Economic & Creative Catalyst in One Year

FRANKLIN, TENN, June 1, 2012–This summer, the “new” 1937 Franklin Theatre will celebrate its first birthday–the anniversary of its Grand Reopening, held on June 3, 2011. The historic movie house closed in 2007 when rising rents rendered the Main Street movie business less-than-lucrative. The nonprofit preservationist Heritage Foundation spearheaded a fundraising effort to “Save the Franklin Theatre.” Over $8.5 million was raised–entirely through private donations–for the purchase and complete renovation of the building.

A year later, the Franklin Theatre has expanded offerings to preserve the Main Street movie tradition with several screenings per week while successfully adding to its mix and mission world-class live music and theatre.

In the first year since the culmination of its donor-funded $8.5 million restoration, the nonprofit 300-seat Franklin Theater has helped raised over half a million dollars for other causes in the local community.

Some gifts just keep on giving.

“Certainly, we expected the return of movies to Main Street and the addition of live theater and extraordinary music concerts,” said the Heritage Foundation’s Executive Director Mary Pearce. “And some also saw the theater as a venue for collaboration among the arts, education and community enrichment and an opportunity to attract resources for great charitable efforts.”
Many of the Franklin Theatre’s live events have been fundraisers for other nonprofits or charitable causes in the community. Sheryl Crow performed three nights at the Franklin Theatre in December of 2011 as a fundraiser for New Hope Academy, a local school. Delbert McClinton raised money for his ailing friend and road manager. Jerry Douglas gave a Christmas concert to benefit the Children’s Organ Transplant Organization. Wynonna Judd performed at a benefit for Williamson County CASA, a group that provides court-appointed advocates for child victims of abuse and neglect.

“We were able to generate a lot of awareness and support for Williamson County CASA through our benefit concert ‘Voices for the Children’ held at the Franklin Theatre,” said CASA board member Elizabeth Jewell. The May 1 benefit concert featuring Wynonna Judd raised $42,000 for the organization. “We’re so glad to have this venue back in our community and to be able to work together with the Franklin Theatre to support our mission of advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children in our community.”

The Green Nights Series–the theatre’s own fundraising series in which superstar artists donate their time and talent–has so far included Vince Gill & Amy Grant, Michael McDonald, The Judds, Ronnie Dunn, and Michael W. Smith. “Green Nights” also nods to the environmental sustainability of the theatre’s new construction. Legacy Trees will be planted next fall in the name of each participating artist in “Green Nights Grove”–the location of which is soon to be confirmed.

Over the course of its first year ever as a music venue, The Franklin Theatre has become a beacon for musical diversity in the region, having hosted world-class acts from a variety of musical genres, including Americana, jazz, bluegrass, gospel, country, blues, pop, Big Band and rock and roll. Its year one roster has included 23 Grammy Award Winners.

Another new tradition, the Franklin Theatre hosts quarterly professional live theatre produced by Studio Tenn Theatre Company, a local nonprofit comprising Broadway veterans from Nashville. Studio Tenn’s first season at the Franklin Theatre featured the sold-out debut fall musical “Guys and Dolls”, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and the moving story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker.” The phenomenal success of “Guys and Dolls” prompted the addition of an encore production to the season, “The Sound of Music,” which runs May 31-June 17–including two production on the Franklin Theatre’s first anniversary of its reopening, June 3.

Beyond bringing back movies, the Franklin Theatre’s live entertainment offerings have been a boon to business and tourism in Downtown Franklin. In its first year, the Franklin Theatre is estimated to have had a direct economic impact in excess of $2 million.

“The Franklin Theatre is a powerful economic driver that generates revenue inside and outside its own doors,” said Williamson County Convention & Visitor Bureau Executive Director Mark Shore. “It has become a catalyst for extending the hours of an already vibrant downtown. As a tourism product, the theatre does as much to sustain nearby businesses, retail and restaurants as it does to sustain its own operations and is a signature attraction on its own.”

The Franklin Theatre has had visitors from all fifty United States, as well as several from Europe and Canada.

Bob Roethemeyer is current president and longtime member of the Downtown Franklin Association. His vintage, gift and home accessories boutique Avec Moi sits directly across the street from the Franklin Theatre. “It is just so exciting to see people coming and going in a well-lit building that is dedicated to entertainment of the community,” Roethemeyer said. The increased activity surrounding the theatre–especially on weekends–“has had a positive impact on the experiences of folks who come to Downtown Franklin to visit shops, eat and see a movie or show,” he said.

Valued traditions are being carried forward and new ones forged. As for the Franklin Theatre’s future, Director Dan Hays said great music, movies and theatrical productions will remain among the venue’s top priorities, joined by the development of further educational and outreach initiatives.

“We understand the responsibility to create and leave new legacies relevant to our lives today and for those that follow,” said Hays. “We can be the greatest 300-seat music venue in the world by multiplying what happens inside the theater well beyond our own community. Your dreams about what the Franklin Theatre can be are just beginning.”