A perfect Tenn

A thrilling new addition to the Nashville theatre scene, Studio Tenn is a newly formed not-for-profit theatre company that produces classic and contemporary works of drama and musical theatre.

Studio Tenn is the creation of Matt Logan, artistic director, who has gained national renown for his stage and set design and illustration of Broadway stars, and Jake Speck, managing director and veteran of the Broadway hit musical, Jersey Boys. The company was first founded in the fall of 2009 by Logan, Emmy Award-winning producer Philip Hall and Broadway and film actress Marguerite Lowell-Hall.

The company drew attention in October 2009 with its inaugural production of Our Town, and shortly thereafter Speck joined Studio Tenn as president and managing director. Having collaborated on many works over the years, the pair embraced the opportunity to build an entertainment for Music City. Speck says that their future seemed open to more possibilities than he could have imagined.

"Matt and I have known each other for fifteen years," he says. "We'd both been in New York at the same time, and we started talking about starting a professional company. I had this dream one night about doing it and I called Matt, and that same day he'd had lunch with friend and that was the first time he'd expressed out loud that he wanted to start this company in Nashville."

Speck assisted in the beginning stages of the venture from New York City before relocating to Nashville last summer. Studio Tenn launched its first full season in October with a lively production of Hello, Dolly! This triumphant debut seemed to vindicate their decision to join forces.

"It was so much fun," Speck says. "The experience was terrifying and exhilarating. We didn't know what to expect to a certain extent, but it put a lot of wind in our sails. We started out with a bang."

So far, Studio Tenn has presented their productions at a variety of Nashville venues, but Speck admits that a permanent location could be a cornerstone to their success.

"In a perfect world, we'd do a capital campaign," he says. "We'd have to be a little more established, though. We've been hopping around to whoever will have us, but we'd like to find a temporary home until then."

There's a method to all this madness, Speck promises, and the pair are constantly seeking out how they can fulfill their potential. Studio Tenn has now narrowed its focus slightly to offer famous productions that wouldn't normally be seen in Nashville.

"We discovered our natural niche is would be in innovative interpretations of classics," Speck says. "We felt there was this untapped theatre audience here. There is this major repertoire of great American plays that, when you ask people, most of them, maybe 90%, haven't seen them."

Speck expresses a willingness to fling the door open to the community and welcome their contributions. In May 2010, Studio Tenn collaborated with ShowHope and the Nashville Symphony to produce Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a ShowHope production that raised funds for orphans in distress. This year's performance is planned for April 15.

StudioTenn also unites with Belmont University and Lipscomb University to conduct theatre workshops, and a few select students have contributed their talents to past productions.

The most recent production was a modern twist on Charles Dickens' classic novella, A Christmas Carol, starring Chip Arnold as Ebenezer Scrooge. This month The Glass Menagerie is scheduled for ten performances, and Speck says that a musical is in the works for July. He hopes to turn this forward momentum into more praise from the Nashville audience.

"We're still very young, but we're reaching out to the community as much as we can," Speck says. "We want to be a major regional theatre presence and offer Nashville quality entertainment."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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