Historic Franklin Theatre announces new Performing Arts Series and names Paul T. Couch new executive director
Theater announces new mission and vision for 2020 and beyond with artistic expansion.
Since its original opening in 1937, the historic Franklin Theatre has seen many exciting changes, and 2020 is proving to be no different.
The Franklin Theatre kicked off the year with two major announcements including the naming of Paul T. Couch as the theatre’s permanent executive director as well as introducing an entirely new lineup of performing arts programming which will build upon the excellent track record the Franklin Theatre already has for its live music and movie showings by adding programming that features diverse musical, dance and family performances.
Bari Beasley is the CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, which owns the Franklin Theatre. She said bringing Paul Couch to the executive director role was an important step towards the expansion of the entertainment happening in the theatre that focuses on the theatre’s new mission and vision.
“This theater is such a gem to this entire county, and we want to focus on making it accessible to even more people with even more exciting programming,” Beasley said. “Naming Paul Couch as the executive director is a crucial part of that goal and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge in programming, managing and promoting world-class venues and the shows they offer. One of his first ideas in this role was to introduce this new season of diversified programming and we are so excited to bring this added entertainment to Williamson County and to this beautiful theater.”
The new season of programming season will begin September 19 with Black Violin and run through April of 2021. The new season consists of three series, each made up of five shows doing three performances each. Tickets for each series go on sale today, with individual performance tickets going on sale in April.
“Under the thoughtful guidance of the Heritage Foundation, the Franklin Theatre will welcome a new era of entertainment to its stage with this new season,” executive director Paul T. Couch said. “Our new programming will enrich the cultural offerings available to Williamson County
residents and visitors. Audiences will have new opportunities to create memories in the heart of downtown Franklin.”
Another important aspect of the Performing Arts Series is the implementation of educational outreach with these performers. Couch and his team will be seeking opportunities to bring these international acts into schools and working with area non-profits and organizations to offer young people the chance to benefit from the talents, skills and knowledge of these accomplished artists.
With this new season, the theater has also created new mission and vision statements to better reflect the overarching goals moving into 2020 and beyond. The theater’s vision is to be a catalyst for social change, where diverse peoples are unified, lives are touched, and memories are made. The mission is to provide world-class performing arts experiences to diverse Williamson County residents and visitors and to be a platform for local philanthropic engagement and education, while providing unparalleled guest service.
The 2020-21 Performing Arts Series schedule is:
Great Performances Series
World-class musicians and ensembles will fill the auditorium of The Franklin Theatre with virtuoso musical performances.
September 19-20, 2020
Lead by two classically trained string players, the band uses their unique blend of classical and hip-hop music to overcome stereotypes while encouraging people of all ages, races, and economic backgrounds to join together to break down cultural barriers.
The Academy of St. Martin In The Fields Chamber Ensemble
October 9-10, 2020
This London-based chamber ensemble is one of the finest in the world, renowned for their fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s greatest chamber music.
October 23-24, 2020
Renowned for her vocal performance for the Disney/Pixar movie Brave as well as her
collaborations with James Taylor and Mary Chapin Carpenter, her ‘crystalline’ and ‘intoxicating’ vocals have enchanted audiences around the world.
Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea
January 22-23, 2021
A unique, multi-cultural ensemble, this all-female group with its foundation and roots based in Mariachi creates music that is traditional and so much more. Their Grammy-winning music can be heard in venues ranging from Disney parks to the Universal Amphitheatre.
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
February 19-20, 2021
For more than three decades, the members of this Grammy-winning ensemble have continually set the standard for expression and virtuosity, bringing a new energy to the concert stage with programs ranging from bluegrass to Bach.
Celebration of Dance Series
Combining the creativity of artists with the discipline of athletes, these amazing displays of music and movement will bring a whole new energy to Main Street.
Rhythmic Circus – Holiday Shuffle
Dec 4-5, 2020
An internationally renowned, 12-member live music and tap dance ensemble whose magnetic, high-energy shows are all about juggling a combination of dancing, humor and music – all wrapped within a bundle of positive messages.
Giordano Dance Chicago
Feb 12-14, 2021
Presenting new and innovative jazz dance choreography, often redefining and expanding the very definition of jazz dance, bringing the invaluable American art form to audiences and students of all ages and from all ethnic backgrounds.
February 26 -27, 2021
Combining flamenco, ballet, martial arts, street dance, theatre and acrobatics with charisma, showmanship, and an exceptional sense of rhythm, these seven brothers are setting audiences ablaze around the world.
Eireann, A Taste of Ireland
March 12-13, 2021
These award-winning Irish Dancers and musicians explore magical tales spanning generations of Irish storytelling and culture.
April 23-24, 2021
Two modern-day clowns play out their hilarious and unique pas de deux through the universal language of gesture and look, as they sweep us up in a timeless and award-winning performance with all the seriousness, innocence, and unkindness of the human condition.
Family Spotlight Series
Topflight performances by jugglers, magicians, acrobats and some very big dinosaurs will not only entertain but create experiences that will engage and expand young minds while creating experiences families can enjoy together.
Mark Nizer 4D Theatre
September 25-26, 2020
A new dimension in entertainment combining original comedy, juggling, movement, music and technology that promises a spellbinding performance.
October 16-17, 2020
Using items commonly found in a junkyard, JunNk combines singing, percussion and comedy to create a world of music and laughter that has never been seen before.
October 30-31, 2020
Spooks, specters, and scaredy-cats contort and cavort through a high-flying circus of scare. Vampires soar, skeletons stagger, and acrobatic cats romp through a humorously haunted bazaar of the bizarre. Indulge your inner eerie in this family-friendly, bone-chilling delight!
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live!
Nov. 21-22, 2020
Observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kids while stimulating their imaginations in ways that will forever connect them to their world
SNAP – Contemporary.Mystery.Performance
Jan 15-16, 2021
Playing with space, time and the otherworldly, this eclectic ensemble of South Korean illusionists will boggle your mind with their impressive powers of prestidigitation. Their mixture of dexterous sleight of hand, vaudevillian comedy and ingenious visual effects conjures a marvelous, magical cabaret perfect for the whole family.
Tickets for the entire series go on sale today, with individual performance tickets going on sale in April. For more information or to buy series tickets, go to www.franklintheatre.com.
Heritage Foundation Hires New Interim Executive Director of The Franklin Theatre
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN has hired an interim executive director for its division The Franklin Theatre. Longtime veteran of the theatre industry and executive producer of the Foundation’s 2017 50th anniversary celebration, Paul T. Couch will join the organization this week.
CEO of the Heritage Foundation Bari Beasley said, “Paul brings a tremendous amount of experience, energy and a thoughtful, collaborative nature to The Franklin Theatre. From national touring productions to local theater, he understands what it takes to be in the sometimes-difficult show business but also how to maximize partnerships, sponsorships and the local community to better the entertainment experience for everyone.”
Couch has extensive experience in venue management as well as producing and presenting entertainment, including his time as general manager of the Ryman Auditorium. At Nashville’s most historic live music venue, he booked and promoted a variety of shows, including country, pop, rock, bluegrass and classical music concerts. He also produced the musicals Always…Patsy Cline, Lost Highway—The Music and Legend of Hank Williams, and Bye Bye Love—The Everly Brothers Musical and the Ryman’s first season of repertory musicals.
From there Couch ventured to Savannah, Georgia, where he directed the renovation and opening of the Lucas Theatre for the Arts in the city’s historic district. While there, he presented successful seasons of Broadway shows and classical performances as well pop, rock, country, bluegrass and comedy shows.
Not long after, Dollywood theme park hired Couch as its director of entertainment and executive producer where he became one of the theme park industry’s most award-winning entertainment producers. Dollywood won over 20 Brass Ring Awards and six Golden Ticket Awards during his tenure, from 2003 to 2014. He was also responsible for managing the operations of the park’s eight performance venues. It was there that Couch and Dolly Parton began a creative partnership that includes several major musical productions and a Hallmark Channel television special.
For the past five years Paul has been a Franklin resident where he continues to create and produce musicals. Most notably, he is collaborating with Dolly on the new musical Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol, an original adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. The work recently sold out three showcase performances at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. Couch graduated from Muskingum University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in Theater and received his MBA from Belmont University.
Couch will replace current Executive Director Dan Hays, following Hays’ last day on Friday, June 7.
To learn more about the Theatre’s upcoming shows and movies, visit FranklinTheatre.com.
Franklin Theatre Board Appoints New Leadership
Kelly Frey Assumes Board President Post
In 2011, the Franklin Theatre reopened after a multi-year campaign, led by the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, to save the historic movie house originally built in 1937. The effort involved more than simply saving the theater…it was totally reinvented as a state-of-the-art live music showplace and multi-purpose venue that’s been recognized as one of the great historic showplaces in America.
Recognizing the need for the non-profit to have dedicated board leadership focused on the theater’s mission, the Heritage Foundation created a separate board in 2013 which recently appointed new leadership.
Kelly Frey becomes the board’s new president effective immediately and brings a wealth of experience and passion about film and entertainment. He has served as Executive Producer for half a dozen feature films shot in the local area over the last couple of years and as past-president of the Nashville Film Festival and current president of the Nashville Japanese Film Festival. Kelly is an attorney and partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP (an AmLaw 100 firm with more than 575 attorneys and government relations professionals and offices in 10 states and Washington, DC). As an attorney he is known for his work in technology law and was selected last year as both “Best of the Bar” in Technology Law by the Nashville Business Journal and Nashville “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America® in Information Technology. He is author of the legal treatise “Frey on Technology Transactions and Intellectual Property” and one of the few attorneys in private practice to be named a Fellow of the World Technology Network (for legal work deemed by the other Fellows of the WTN as “most likely to be of long-term significance”) – other Fellows include such tech notables as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Elon Musk (Tesla), and Bill Gates (Microsoft).
“The Franklin Theatre has a unique charm for creating special experiences that touch the lives of our patrons, performers and community every day. I’m humbled to be asked to serve in this capacity,” says Mr. Frey.
He assumes the post held by Wendell Moore (MNA Government Relations) who continues to serve on the board and whose volunteer service as president for four years is much applauded by his colleagues.
Reappointed to new terms in their leadership post are board vice-president Donna Douglas (Jackson National Life Insurance Company), treasurer Andy Marshall (Marshall Family Foods) and board secretary Cliff O’Sullivan (Parks Real Estate). Other board leadership include: Emily Magid, Connie Haley, Paul Polycarpou, Robert Deaton, Greg Ham and Bari Beasley.
The Franklin Theatre, an intimate experience with 297 seats, hosted more than 591 events with ticketed attendance of 82,018 in 2017. Musical highlights since reopening have included hundreds of live concerts from diverse genres including Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, Art Garfunkel, Ronnie Dunn, Keb Mo’, John Hiatt, Ricky Skaggs, Michael W. Smith, Mac Davis and more. It continues to feature movies and serves as host to theatrical productions, corporate functions, community events and charity events (which have helped raise more than $5 million since reopening).
For more information about the theater’s history and upcoming events, visit www.franklintheatre.com or call 615-538-2076.
Franklin Theatre Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
The historic Franklin Theatre will celebrate the fifth anniversary of its reopening in June and invites the community to a special series of complimentary movies, backstage tours and a music concert to say thanks for helping make it an important cultural showplace in such a short period of time. The historic movie house reopened in 2011 to inspire, enrich and connect our community as a world-class music venue and multi-purpose arts facility after an $8.5 million rebuild.
In just its first five years, over 350,000 patrons have laughed, cried and been touched by award winning musical talents from most every genre, world class live theater, special movie experiences, and scores of community and business events. As a new centerpiece on Franklin’s renowned Main Street, it has spurred a new emphasis on music and art in Williamson County that complements the area’s Civil War history, unique shopping and amazing local food scene. The venue now averages more than 600 events each year and contributes a direct annual economic impact of $3.8 million. As a non-profit recipient of the community’s generosity, the theater’s leadership is especially proud to have helped area charities host events that have raised over $3 million since reopening.
To celebrate its patrons, several complimentary events are planned. Ticket reservations will begin at 11 AM on May 27th
June 11 at 10 AM, 1, 4 & 7 PM – Free Movie Day
Celebrating the Franklin Theatre’s longest tradition of movies on Main Street, the Franklin Theatre will screen classic movies all day for free. Movies will include the original Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, American Graffiti, and The Sting. Patrons are also encouraged to bring a canned food donation for OneGenAway, a charitable organization that provides food to the hungry. Movies will be shown at 10 AM, 1, 4 & 7 PM.
June 19 all afternoon – Open House and Backstage Tours
You’ve seen the marquee and possibly the lobby and auditorium…but have you been backstage and heard the whole story about the Franklin Theatre? Tours to be given on the hour from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM.
June 24 at 8 PM – SHEL Live Performance/Album Release
Celebrating the Franklin Theatre’s newest tradition, live music, nationally recognized Americana band and Franklin favorites, SHEL join us for an album release concert. The show will be complimentary, but please reserve tickets in advance. We’ll also encourage a donation that evening to Tails of the Trail, an animal advocacy group.
July 1 at 7 PM – Art Scene at the Theatre
Also celebrating their fifth anniversary is Franklin Art Scene. Franklin’s monthly art crawl takes participants through downtown Franklin’s historic buildings, and celebrates Williamson County’s unique artistic talent. Visit us to see an art exhibit as well as an artist creating works on site. Following Art Scene, at 9:30 PM the Franklin Theatre will present a screening of Saving Banksy.
Originally opened in 1937 as Franklin’s Main Street movie house, the Franklin Theatre was shuttered in 2007 amid rising rents and operational costs. A massive fundraising effort and total renovation allowed the theatre to reopen in 2011 as a world-class music venue that continues its original purpose as a movie house.
The Franklin Theatre has hosted a remarkable talent roster of award winning artists including Sheryl Crow, Art Garfunkel, The Judds, Michael McDonald, Amy Grant & Vince Gill, Ronnie Dunn, Michael W. Smith, Guy Clark, Ray Price, Del McCoury, Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Leon Russell, Mac Davis, Little River Band and many, many more. The theatre has also served as a backdrop for a host of television productions, videos, webcasts, live album recordings and the ABC network series Nashville.
For tickets and more information about these events, visit: www.franklintheatre.com or call 615-538-2076.
The Franklin Theatre is located at 419 Main Street, Franklin Tennessee.
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