Category: Creativity

Elf The Musical

One of the most beloved Hollywood holiday hits of the past decade is born again – live on stage!

by Margaret Stolfi, AC Entertainment



Oct2013-Elf1ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole.  Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF.

The New York Times says that ELF is “SPLASHY, PEPPY, SUGAR-SPRINKLED HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT!” USA Today calls ELF, “ENDEARINGLY GOOFY!” Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults!”

Oct2013-Elf2Based on the beloved 2003 New Line Cinema hit, ELF features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).



More information on the Broadway at the Tennessee 2013-2014 season can be found at



The next American Idol?

Find your real voice

By Michael Kull. Photo by Eva Nations

Sep2013MKullHave you ever listened to the sound of your own voice on a recording? Many people don’t like to listen to themselves. They say that their voice sounds strange, it embarrasses them to hear it, it doesn’t even sound like them. While not everyone reacts this way, it brings up an idea that is worth considering: Our voices are somehow so closely tied to our identities, to who we are, that we question whether or not they truly represent us. If every voice is a sonic “finger print,” and no two voices are alike, then the voice we have is the only one we’re going to get. When we hear our voice and don’t recognize it, then we are messing with the notion of who we are. Read more →

How the Knoxville Symphony Reaches East Tennessee Students


by Rachel Dellinger, KSO Communications Director
Photos courtesy Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Did you know Knoxville houses the oldest continuously operating symphony orchestra in the Southeast? Established in 1935, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO) is led by Maestro Lucas Richman and is currently entering its 78th season. The KSO’s mission is to maintain a nationally recognized regional orchestra that serves the people of East Tennessee by upholding the highest standards of excellence in its musical performances and educational programs. Two unique programs designed for students include the Young People’s Concerts and the Very Young People’s Concerts. The KSO also visits schools, libraries and public events such as the Children’s Festival of Reading and annually reaches over 30,000 students. The KSO participates in Penny for Arts, a program designed to give every child in Knox County an opportunity to attend arts and culture events FOR FREE. Keep reading to find out more! Read more →

The Nature Journal: A year-round family activity


by Caleb Carlton, Teacher Naturalist at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont


Back to school means, for parents and students alike, the onset of a whirlwind. Let’s face it, even the thought of the modern-day school year is overwhelming. Students are scheduled to the limits, while parents struggle to balance professional demands and experiencing life with their children. Even when everybody’s home, there’s homework, television, smart phones, and pure exhaustion to detract from family time.


Journaling helps capture memorable experiences discovered in nature.
Photo by: Amy Wilson

It’s easy to arrive at the Thanksgiving break and wonder what happened to September, October and November, and, more worrisome, what your children have been up to throughout the Fall. The challenge is, then, to foster meaningful and consistent relationships with the ones you love the most in the midst of hectic schedules and tired minds. Read more →

Get ready for a season of Broadway hits at the Tennessee Theatre!


by Margaret Stolfi, AC Entertainment


The stage is set for another year of Broadway in Knoxville as the Tennessee Theatre announces the 2013-2014 Broadway at the Tennessee Theatre season featuring the Knoxville premiere of JERSEY BOYS, one of Broadway’s biggest blockbusters and winner of the 2006 Tony Award® for Best Musical.

The Broadway at the Tennessee series has continued to flourish each year by bringing premier titles to Knoxville — and the 2013-2014 season is no exception. This season consists of Disney classics, Tony Award® winning favorites and breathtaking, contemporary pieces.


DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, September 30 & October 1, 2013.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

A tale as old as time, DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST returns by popular demand and marks the start of the 2013-2014 season as the romantic, Broadway musical for every generation. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle and classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song.


ELF THE MUSICAL, November 16 & 17, 2013.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Next up in the series is ELF THE MUSICAL, the modern day Christmas classic that is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF as it follows the tale of everyone’s favorite elf – Buddy! Followed by ELF will be MEMPHIS, a musical that turns up that dial and channels the underground dance clubs of 1950’s Memphis, Tennessee as it follows the story of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break.


MEMPHIS, December 6 & 7, 2013.
Photo credit: Kyle Froman

January will bring the thrilling musical MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, which gives an inside look at the famed recording session that brought together rock and roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In March we’ll see what all the noise is about, as the explosive, innovative, witty and utterly unique STOMP explodes back on to the Tennessee Theatre stage for a return performance.


MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, January 24 & 25, 2014.
Photo credit: Paul Natkin

The Broadway at the Tennessee 2013-2014 season will close in the most sensational way with JERSEY BOYS. “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!” raves the New York Post for JERSEY BOYS, the 2006 Tony Award®-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. It is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history and features electrifying performances of the hits that took them all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and more.


STOMP, March 7 & 8, 2014.
Photo credit: Steve McNicholas

Subscription packages for the series are on sale now! Two packages with 4, 5, and 6 show options are available with up to a 10% discount. Subscriptions purchased via the Tennessee Theatre box office receive reduced service fees, guaranteed same seats for each performance, and free same-show ticket exchanges. Call the box office at 865-684-1200, extension 2 or visit in person on Clinch Avenue.


JERSEY BOYS, April 29-May 4, 2014.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

At the box office patrons can also learn more about the Spotlight Club. The Broadway Spotlight Club is a one of a kind VIP Broadway opportunity where you can meet cast members, mingle with other loyal lovers of Broadway, enjoy great food and drink, and make your evening at the Tennessee Theatre all the more unique. Perfect for cultivating a young new Broadway fan!

The Broadway Spotlight Club package includes premium seating in Price Live 1 for all Package A shows, pre-show receptions, pre-order cocktails ready and waiting for you at intermission, post-show cast parties, private backstage tours and your name listed in the Broadway program. A portion of the price is a tax-deductible gift to the Historic Tennessee Theatre.

More information on the Broadway at the Tennessee 2013-2014 season can be found at


Shared Nature Play: Good for the Whole Family


by Jennie McGuigan – School Programs Coordinator at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont



Emerald Youth. Photo credit: Michaela Pruitt

As School Program Coordinator at Tremont, and a parent of two, I think often about the quality of the time parents spend with their children and the role nature can play in the development of parent-child relationships. Ron Swaisgood, biologist and cofounder of Family Adventures in Nature reminds us that, “nature can be co-experienced by parent and child in ways that Chuck E. Cheese’s just can’t.”

Now first, let me preface by saying that, I have nothing against Chuck E. Cheese, or other kid-centered destinations that have all the bells, whistles and other sensory stimuli. These places provide opportunities for children and their friends and family to experience fun together, share laughs, and make memories. Read more →

Fun, creative summer family reading and writing ideas

By Tracey Matthews, Knox County Schools Supervisor of Family and Community Engagement
Contributing writer:  Eliott Reese and Mary Frances Street, KCS Family and Community Engagement, University of Tennessee Student Interns


Even though school may be out for now, there are still plenty of opportunities for our children to continue reading and writing this summer! There are moments every day, even during summer days, where we can foster our children’s reading and writing through fun, family activities. Whether it’s playing word games together or writing a letter to your child’s favorite author, we can add activities to our summer fun that also encourage and strengthen reading, vocabulary, and writing skills. Check out these fun and creative ideas! Read more →

Get Active… With Math?

By Mike O’Hern, Center Director of Mathnasium of West Knoxville


OHernMay2013So I admit I’m a stair-counter.  I can’t go up or down stairs without counting them.  For example, I just happen to know that there are 19 steps up for each floor to get to my daughter’s apartment.

But when I have the same set up steps over and over again, like I do at home, I need to subdivide in order to break the boredom.  So I’ve got 15 steps to go up and down.  For a while I counted 4-4-4-3, which has a nice little cadence (count it in your head – I think you’ll see what I mean). Read more →

How the Classical Guitar Changed My Life

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


I always wanted to play the guitar but I was afraid. I was scared that I did not have the skill to play an instrument, and I was petrified of performing in front of others. I never learned to play a musical instrument as a child. My few attempts at playing the guitar as a teenager were disastrous, filled with anxiety. But I continued to harbor dreams of playing wonderful melodies before enraptured audiences. Read more →

Volunteer to stand out

Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville


“Volunteering at the local library or any one of our 20 local museums can help your kid stand out on a college application and give them invaluable experience.”

A March 30, 2012 study by the National Endowment for the Arts entitled The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, Showed the Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth.  It found that at-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement. The study tracked children, teenagers, and young adults who had high or low levels of arts engagement in or out of school. Those activities included coursework in music, dance, theater, or the visual arts; out-of-school arts lessons; or membership, participation, and leadership in arts organizations and activities, such as band or theater. Read more →