The Theater Bug, fondly called “The Bug,” brings together young artists from different age groups, backgrounds and neighborhoods to create community, build confidence and encourage them through experiences in the performing arts. Programs led by professional instructors include camps, playwriting, concerts and, of course, productions. The Bug Ball, its annual fundraiser now in its third year, will take place on Sept. 12 at the Noah Liff Opera Center. Co-chairs Kortney Wilson and Justin McIntosh chatted with us more about it and the theater company. This year’s event, like all performances at The Bug, promises to be a hit. For tickets and additional information about The Bug Ball, visit thetheaterbug.org.
Tell us a little about this year’s party. What can guests look forward to?
Guests can look forward to a fantastic Mediterranean dinner catered by Frothy Monkey, a silent auction including a week in South France, and tickets and meet-and-greet passes for shows, including Reba and Brooks & Dunn’s historic country music residency in Las Vegas, music from America’s Got Talent runner-up and Nashville favorite Emily West and a very special performance from some of The Theater Bug actors and actresses that will leave you with an ear-to-ear smile on your face, guaranteed.
Will there be any special performances you can tell us about?
If you were at last year’s event, you know there’s a special “money medley” of songs that The Bug kids perform. In addition to a new version of that medley, they will also be performing with our guest musical artist, Emily West.
The Theater Bug performers will be performing highlights from last year’s productions and numbers from the upcoming season. This includes covers of popular songs like you’ve never heard them before and original music created by the artists at The Bug.We are also thrilled to have the dazzling Emily West performing with us this year.
How did you get involved with The Theater Bug?
Kortney: I have been bringing my kids to The Bug shows for years.Having grown up in theater, I recognized really early on that this wasn’t your everyday children’s theater.These productions were the real deal.After seeing the original musical, Selfie, The Musical, I took it upon myself to start a campaign to raise some money for them.Cori [Anne Laemmel], the artistic director, called me and asked me to join their board.Having had an issue with fundraising in the past, I joined, and the first order of business was getting a fundraiser off the ground.
Justin: I’ve known Cori, The Bug’s artistic director, for years through the Nashville theater community. Last year, my co-chair Kortney Wilson invited my husband, Nathan, and I to attend The Bug Ball, and after crying my eyes out because I was so moved by what I saw on stage, I basically told Cori to take my wallet and anything else I could give her. I was “bitten” by The Bug immediately!
What do funds raised at The Bug Ball support?
Funds raised at The Bug Ball support the annual operating expenses for The Theater Bug. Those funds allow The Bug to continuing providing free-of-charge arts programming and education for kids of all ages in the Middle Tennessee area.
Why is The Theater Bug important to Nashville?
There’s nothing else like it. Not only is it providing incredible professional-level arts education, it is also providing a safe space for kids of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, etc., to belong. The Theater Bug not only produces plays and musicals, but they create original works inspired by social issues facing kids today. We aim not only to teach our students to be better actors and dancers and singers but to teach them how to be better people. I truly believe that what these kids are learning and experiencing at The Bug will change our next generation.