Story published: 02-05-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

It’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’ at JRT

Just in time for the Valentine’s season, Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is adding a little extra romance to Tennessee’s oldest town, thanks to the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the theater’s newest production, “A Grand Night for Singing.”

“It’s wonderful show that makes you feel good,” said Jennifer Schmidt, JRT’s artistic director. “You just leave happier. You can’t help it. It’s Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

The guest audience at the Jan. 31 full-dress rehearsal before Friday’s opening performance seemed to agree.

With music at times playful, frothy, melancholy and soulful; costumes ranging from classic to quirky; and an audience periodically filled with laughter and applause, this ongoing bout of romance looks to be a hit.

“You don’t have to go to the big cities for wonderful entertainment,” said Johnson City resident Mikki Culbert. “I always love coming to Jonesborough, and I’m enjoying this greatly.”

With 21 cast members and more than 30 musical numbers, “A Grand Night for Singing” is scheduled to run until Feb. 17 and features a musical revue of Broadway giants Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, under the direction of Schmidt with choreography by Kristin Belisle.

It also features, according to Schmidt, some new faces and a collection of truly glorious voices.

“We started rehearsing in October,” Schmidt said. “I wanted it to be a magical evening reminiscent of the more carefree days when Rodgers and Hammerstein reigned. I think we accomplished that.”

Longtime Jonesborough resident Marcy Hawley agrees.

“I think it’s wonderful we have so much talent in the area,” said Hawley, who also attended last week’s dress rehearsal. “You’re sitting here, and you know everyone in the cast.”

And boy, can this cast sing.

“It’s fun and lighthearted,” said Todd Wagner, of Kingsport. “It’s all local, homegrown talent. And it’s a good mix with no down times at all.”

Michelle Meade, also of Kingsport, was impressed with the polish of the production, as well as the depth of performance by many of the singers. In addition to the music, Pat Bradley loved the dancing and costumes.

“The blues of the dresses worked so well against the backdrop of moon and stars. Very romantic.,” Bradley said. “I think it was all exceptional.”

Better yet, said audience member Mary Ann Clark, it’s all so close to home.

“I love it,” Clark said. “The smiles. The happiness. Anybody who just wants to have a fun evening should come see this show.”

Tickets for “A Grand Night for Singing” are $14 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors. They can be purchased by calling 753-1010 or visiting

Performances will be held through Feb. 17 on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

For those feeling especially romantic, JRT and town merchants are also offering a Valentine’s Dinner & Show package.

The package is available for evening performances on February 8-9 and 15-16. It includes two reserved seats to the show as well as dinner for two at one of two restaurants of your choice: The Dining Room located downtown Jonesborough or Bomba’s Italian Restaurant, located on Highway 11-E.

Cost is $70 per couple and $50 per couple for season pass holders.

A special deluxe package is also available which includes two show tickets, dinner for two, six red roses and a box of gourmet chocolates from Earth and Sky Confections. This package is available for $120 per couple or $100 per couple for season pass holders.

Whether you are interested in a simple evening of music or a full-blown evening of romance, Schmidt, cast and audience members urge everyone to come out to see JRT’s “Grand Night for Singing.”

“This is such a gift for the community,” Hawley said. “We need to take advantage of it.”