Stories of ten women who were involved or rumored-to-be-involved with President John F. Kennedy are explored through dance in That Woman – The Dance Show, co-created by ten Nashville-area choreographers and performed by 15 dancers/actors-who-dance of diverse age/ethnicity/appearance.
Described as “emotionally effective storytelling and a unique way to experience a lesser-known aspect of history. A thought-provoking and entertaining evening of dance, sure to spark interesting post-show discussion among audience members.” This show contains adult themes and language.
That Woman – The Dance Show is produced by Tennessee Playwrights Studio and directed by Molly Breen. This production has been co-created with the following Nashville choreographers: Molly Breen, Caitlin Del Casino, BranDon Johnson, Thea Jones, Cornell Kennedy, Jodie Mowrey (Director of Choreography), Schuyler Phoenix, Rachel Simons, Brittany Stewart, and Emma Williams.
The cast includes: Molly Breen as Marlene Dietrich, Caitlin Del Casino as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Thea Jones as Ellen Rometsch, Jodie Mowrey as Mary Pinchot Meyer, Schuyler Phoenix as Blaze Starr, Rachel Simons as Inga Arvad, Nikki Staggs as Tempest Storm, Brittany Stewart at Judith Exner, Autumn Wegner as Marilyn Monroe, Emma Williams as Inga Arvad. BranDon Johnson, Preston Weaver and Shawn Whitsell as JFK/ensemble and Jim Manning as Joseph Kennedy/J. Edgar Hoover. Dates and times for this production are: Saturday, June 18, at 5 p.m., Sunday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. (pay-what-you-can night – free/donations accepted), Friday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 25, at 2 p.m.
Other women theatre artists contributing to this production include: Caitlin Del Casino (Costumer), Kristen DuBois (Lighting Designer), Alexis LaVon (Sound/Projection Designer), Shannon J. Spencer (Stage Manager), Lauren Wilson (Graphic Designer).
Music for That Woman – The Dance Show includes original compositions by Mikey Rose and Noah Rice, and features music from local Nashville artists Melanie Bresnan, Heidi Burson, Jonell Mosser, and Of Those Who Know.
For tickets and further information, go to www.tnplaywrights.org.
Jodie Mowrey (she/her)
What was your first live onstage taste of theater? When I was two years old, I saw dancers on stage at a street fair and told my mom and dad I wanted to do that! By the time I was three I was in my first dance recital! I remember being so nervous while we waited for our turn backstage.
What is your favorite preshow ritual? My favorite pre-show ritual is the dance warmup on stage… coming out on stage, sprawling out on the floor and viewing the house from the stage.
What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? Priscilla Queen of the Desert was Circle Player’s first show after the start of the pandemic. It’s a huge show from a cast, choreography, set and especially costume perspective. A couple costumers become ill and couldn’t finish, and we needed more crew to help with the sets. I was originally just choreographing, but I dove in to help wherever I could. I had so much fun working with Jim Manning to sew costumes and build sets. And, when a cast member had to drop for a serious family matter, I jumped in the last week to fill the part.
What is your dream role? Boy, I don’t know. White Christmas is my favorite musical. It would have to be as one of the sisters.
Who is your theatrical crush? I have so many, but I will never tell!
Why should people come see THAT WOMAN? It’s fascinating. You pull one thread on the story of the women involved with JFK and it leads to a world of intrigue. You’ll walk away wanting to know more.
Rachel Simons (she/her)
What was your first live onstage taste of theater? My first onstage experience was in Annie the musical my sophomore year at Centennial high school in Franklin. I was cast as the radio host and, quite unknowingly, the comedic relief of the segment.
What is your favorite preshow ritual? I would have to say before starting any show, I find a quiet place from within and breathe/ meditate/ pray. It really focuses me and settles the nerves.
What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? The most memorable Show-Must-Go-On moment would have to be when I toured with Veggie Tales Live! I played Larry the Cucumber. The vegetables have magnetic pupils and sometimes when you move the eyes too quickly, they can pop off. There was a moment when I was absolutely crushing Oh Where Is My Hairbrush when my pupil popped off and I looked like a nine-foot tall, half possessed cucumber. Hopefully it didn’t scar too many kiddies in the audience!
What is your dream role? I’m not sure if it’s much of a role, but I would love to try my hand at writing and directing.
Who is your theatrical crush? I would go gaga to see Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway.
Why should people come see THAT WOMAN? THAT WOMAN is worth seeing because first and foremost, it’s an expression of art; the interpretation of these women seen through the eyes of local artist in Nashville is also exciting. We’ve all labored in love to put this show together and are thrilled to present to you our talents through dance.
Nikki Staggs (she/her)
What was your first live onstage taste of theater? My first live onstage taste of theatre was when I was seven-years-old performing in my first dance recital. I remember being really excited to put on my green tutu, and my sparkling green leotard, with my little black tap shoes that went clickidy clack across the linoleum floor. I also remember performing at the Hatchinohe Civic center for the first time, which was the largest audience (1000) I had ever performed in front of, and I remember it being the most amazing feeling. I loved it so much that I just stuck with it.
What is your favorite preshow ritual? Hmmm, I don’t think I really have a preshow ritual. My favorite thing to do before a show is to grab a glass of wine and mingle with the audience. Which I guess is weird in America, but in other countries it’s perfectly normal.
What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? The show must go on! I was 11-years-old performing in The Wizard of Oz, and I woke up on show day not feeling well, but that was not about to stop me. And this was decades before covid y’all, I would never do this now, but anyway I was sick, and I was not about to let that stop the show. So, I put a handkerchief in my pocket, and carried on with business as usual, runny nose and all. In the middle of the show, while I was onstage my nose started to bleed. So. I just used my handkerchief, made it a part of my character, and went on with the show. And no one, not the other actors, director or audience knew that I was sick and had a nosebleed.
What is your dream role? Ooh my dream role. It’s kind of hard having a dream role when you’re a black woman, because there are so many roles that you will never be considered for, let alone aloud to play. But, anyway, my dream roles are Lady M, in The Scottish Play, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Lady M is a role that takes maturity, control and a dynamic stage presence. And for Lucia, I don’t even need to do the whole opera. I just want to sing “Il Dolce Suono.” I think it is one of the most beautiful soprano arias.
Who is your theatrical crush? My theatrical crush? Do you mean which theatrical actor is my crush, or which theatrical character is my crush. Either way it’s Mercutio.
Why should people come see THAT WOMAN? People should come see That Woman because it’s awesome! The women portrayed have such dynamic and interesting lives. And we don’t always get to hear their side of the story, so I feel like this show is in a way giving voice to these wonderful women, who were overshadowed by the fame of JFK.
Emma Caroline Williams (she/her)
What was your first live onstage taste of theater? My first time onstage was at my first dance recital when I was 3, and from the high quality VHS recording of it, I looked to have enjoyed it! The first time I truly fell in love with theatre, I was nine, and my Grandmother gave my mother and I tickets to see Sweet Charity at TPAC. Molly Ringwald played Charity, and I remember being completely mesmerized by how she commanded the stage. Just her presence standing completely still seemed to take up the entire stage to me, and I knew I wanted to do that too.
What is your favorite preshow ritual? I spend about 20-30 minutes getting warmed-up by myself, and I do pretty much the same thing every time. I mentally spend that time reminding myself why I’m grateful for dance, my body and what it does for me, and whatever show I’m doing that night. Keeping a positive mindset about whatever you’re doing, however chaotic backstage is, makes me feel more grounded around everything that happens on stage.
What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? If I’m answering truthfully, it’s THAT WOMAN. As I’m writing this, I am getting ready to go to the theatre to learn a new piece, as one of our cast mates had a severe medical emergency. It’s hard emotionally because we love our cast mate dearly, we’ve been in production for over a year, and I know we all want her with us on opening night. Our entire cast is having to rework, learn new things, and change on the fly. It’s definitely a challenge, but when we found out there was no question that we would make it happen. It’s a testament to how the people who love and commit their lives to this art form are willing to rally to help support another person.
What is your dream role? I have a very boring “typical dancer” answer, that I love being in the ensemble. I enjoy learning as much choreography as I can, and I love being busy during a show! My dream show though is Cabaret, I’ve always wanted to be a KitKat club dancer!
Who is your theatrical crush? Right now, it’s Thea Jones Brown, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through this production. She is truly one of the most captivating movers I have ever seen. Her movement is so powerful, there’s not any frivolous steps to get from point A to point B. She’s so intentional, and that tells a story beautifully.
Why should people come see THAT WOMAN? The women who we are portraying have been slighted by history. Some have been hiding in secret, deported, and some (allegedly) murdered. The ones who have been made public have been labeled as “playthings” and much worse. They deserve to have their stories told and have our empathy, instead of the shame that’s been put upon them by the public despite that maybe we should be looking at President Kennedy, who is the only common denominator between them all.