Studio Tenn Performs World-Class Theater at Franklin’s Factory

Classics persist because they are paragons of a particular style. When it comes to stories about the transformative power of love, few tales are as classic as Beauty and the Beast, having persisted now since at least the mid-18th century. Each retelling provides its own take, and the interpretation running throughout most of December on stage at the Jamison Theater in the Factory at Franklin is no exception. The artists who bring this version to life are with Studio Tenn, a nonprofit theater company. While locally based, these creative professionals do not allow the label “regional theater” to prevent them from staging world-class productions, and Beauty and the Beast is sure to wow audiences of all ages. Brentwood Lifestyle asked three key members of Studio Tenn to talk a bit about their work and tell us what to expect from the production.  

Benji Kern, Interim Artistic Director

Please speak to the creative collaboration that goes on behind the scenes to put on a performance at this level.

Theater is the highest collaborative art form, and I am continually honored to work with an amazing team of artists to tell stories. It’s important to acknowledge the vital role of the audience as part of the storytelling family.  Studio Tenn’s Beauty and the Beast will be an immersive experience from the moment you walk into the theater and hear the sounds of an enchanted forest. Audiences should feel like they are villagers with Belle or another magical object in the Beast’s castle and ultimately become another character in the story. For a moment in time, we get to share with a family of strangers an experience that will never repeat in the same way. And that is the incredible power that theater provides to each audience member, actor and technician during each performance.

What are some of the unique challenges to putting on a production like Beauty and the Beast?  

With iconic shows like Beauty and the Beast, there are high expectations due to iconic film and literary references. In telling Studio Tenn’s version, we look to pay homage to the story we all have fallen in love with while heightening the magical elements. How do you make a beggar woman turn into an enchantress? What phantasmagoric surprises can we create for the song “Be Our Guest?” We are all kids at heart, and creating a world that defies logic is always a riddle that is fun to solve.

Patrick Thomas, “the Beast”

Tell us about your role.

It’s a challenge, and I love a challenge. Beauty and Beast is the first time that I’ve done a true musical since high school, and it’s great to be coming back to the art form. I do way more acting than singing, but there’s a song—“If I Can’t Love Her”—that really suits my voice. I’m thrilled to be doing such an incredible role in an incredible show with my favorite company in town.

Hatty King, Belle

What are your feelings about Studio Tenn and the show?

Besides the incredible actors I have the privilege of working alongside, I am so stoked to be working with Studio Tenn. I am always in awe of their attention to detail as well as the unique perspective they bring to every piece they tackle. Their shows are really special, and to make my debut with this particular show is a dream!