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.
Media Information Contact: