There is nothing quite like live performance, be it music, theater or dance, and in a city as artistically and culturally rich as Nashville, the absence of it these past 18 months has been felt widely. Fortunately, live performance is making a comeback, and nearly 300 guests packed into the City Winery to celebrate the triumphant return of the Nashville Rep to the stage at the annual Broadway Brunch.
After a lively cocktail hour, where guests enjoyed mimosas, bloody marys and palomas, the cast of beloved local actors kicked off the festivities with a medley of Broadway hits, including The Book of Mormon’s “Hello!” and Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest,” that had been hilariously altered to reflect the trials of quarantine. The charming and effervescent Megan Murphy Chambers served as emcee for the program, infusing her adorable wit into the entire show.
Co-chairs Julie Schneider and Tracy Wade were thrilled — and, understandably, a bit relieved — to pull off an event that had been two years in the making. The ladies first committed to chair the 2020 Broadway Brunch, which they masterfully reinvented as a virtual event at night. They returned this year to execute the in-person event, which was a rousing success.
Throughout the program, executive director Drew Ogle lauded the innovation of the Nashville Rep staff, who managed to produce a new piece of digital content every two-and-a-half days during quarantine, launched new educational programs and expanded the company’s reach by 250 percent. Board President Rob Turner got choked up as he delivered a heartfelt recognition of Ovation Winner (and former board president) Vicki Horne. Vicki, who looked absolutely fabulous in a custom Christian Siriano dress with matching mask and red sneakers, is responsible for launching the Broadway Brunch six years ago. In that short time, the Rep has more than doubled the funds raised. And based on how high paddles were flying during the live auction, which included two trips to the Virgin Islands that sold for $10,000 each and a trip to Switzerland that went for $12,500, this year’s event certainly broke some records. Fortunately, all of those funds will contribute to the Nashville Rep’s quest to create exceptional theater, however that may look in the ever-changing world ahead.