Studio Tenn’s simply breathtaking music-filled holiday show, “A Studio Tenn Christmas” wraps its two-week run with shows remaining through Sunday, December 18 at Jamison Hall in the Factory at Franklin. With the cast spreading so much Christmas joy through song, after posting my review of the show earlier this week, I decided I’d like to pick their brains to find out what holiday traditions and memories they hold dear for a special Holiday-themed edition of my recurring celebrity interview feature, Rapid Fire 20 Q, so I posed questions recently to Studio Tenn Managing Director Jake Speck, as well as three “A Studio Tenn Christmas” cast members Erin Parker, Laura Matula and Piper Jones.
RAPID FIRE WITH JAKE SPECK, STUDIO TENN’S MANAGING DIRECTOR
JONATHAN PINKERTON: What’s your favorite Christmas memory from you childhood?
JAKE SPECK: One year I wanted a new bicycle SO BAD. I had talked about it for months and 100% anticipated that Santa would bring it to me. We came downstairs on Christmas morning and there was no bike. I was really sad, but tried not to show it. We opened all the gifts and everyone got what they wanted but me. I thought we were done, but then my dad said “Jake what is that little one at the back of the tree”? I crawled under the tree and found a little box with my name on it. I opened it and there was a note inside that said “Look on the back porch” and it was signed from Santa. I ran to the back door, threw it open and there was the exact bike I had asked for. Not sure if that was amazing or cruel of my dad but I sure did freak out!
JP: Favorite Christmas song ever?
JAKE SPECK: “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”…so beautiful and sentimental.
JP: Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate?
JAKE SPECK: Hot Chocolate
JP: Since “A Studio Tenn Christmas” has been molded after those great TV variety show holiday specials of days gone by….which one of those old specials did you dream of being on?
JAKE SPECK: “The Carol Burnett Show”. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were watching Carol Burnett with my mom and laughing until we cried. I surprised her and am taking her to see Carol at the Ryman in March!
JP: With the new year fast approaching, what Studio Tenn production are you most looking forward to?
JAKE SPECK: “Spamalot”!
RAPID FIRE WITH LAURA MATULA
JP: Which brings you more joy, hanging stockings, or hanging mistletoe?
LAURA MATULA: Most definitely hanging stockings. We have had the same stockings since we were in college in our first apartment in Boston, MA so they have sentimental value. Also we love having stockings for all the pets too (2 dogs and 2 bunnies:)
JP: Favorite Holiday tradition?
LAURA MATULA: My mother makes the most incredible candy cane sweet bread. It’s both beautiful and delicious and Christmas morning is not complete without it! We also have a fun tradition of opening 1 present on Christmas Eve. It’s normally PJs or something small. In recent years we have strangely taken up the tradition of all taking a blood pressure test on Christmas Eve and whoever has the lowest blood pressure gets to open a 2nd Christmas Eve present. I would like to note I have had the honor of opening a 2nd present for the last 3 years. Yes, my family is unique:)
JP: Shopping in stores or online?
LAURA MATULA: Online. When I can it’s fun to go for 1 day or so to find special little fun stocking stuffers and gift cards, etc, but most of my shopping is done online. I can find more custom items that way. Also my shopping time is limited as a mother homeschooling full time as well as running a business with my husband and all the other life things so convenience is key online!
JP: Which song included in this year’s “A Studio Tenn Christmas” are you most excited about performing?
LAURA MATULA: I absolutely love getting to sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. It’s such a special and intimate song. Also we have so many fun classic songs and silly group numbers. It’s just an all around joy.
JP: Of the remaining Studio Tenn 2017 shows, which are you looking forward to?
LAURA MATULA: I can not wait to see what Matt and team do with “The Elephant Man”. I’m intrigued to see the show for the first time as well. I know it will be beautiful and thought-provoking and that is the best kind of art.
RAPID FIRE WITH ERIN PARKER
JP: Sugar Cookies or Ginger Bread Houses?
ERIN PARKER: Yes. All of them. Please.
JP: What’s your favorite part of “A Studio Tenn Christmas”?
ERIN PARKER: Dancing like a fool with Bradley Gale throughout the night.
JP: As a fellow dog-lover, I have to ask…does your sweet pup, Jolene get a stocking from Santa?
ERIN PARKER: Since she only has 3 legs, I try to stay away from anything foot related so as not to make her self conscious. Just kidding. She doesn’t care. And I don’t think I got her a stocking last year but now I feel bad. So…yes.
JP: Is there one holiday tune that’s not included in “A Studio Tenn Christmas” that you just love?
ERIN PARKER: All my favorite ones are there!!
JP: As the new year approaches, Studio Tenn has three shows left for the season, “The Elephant Man”, “The Loretta Legacy” and “Spamalot”. Those pretty much run the gamut of live theatre genres…as a straight play (non-musical), a concert retrospective (or jukebox musical) with little or no dialogue, and a full-on over the top musical extravaganza…I know it’s hard to choose, but which is your favorite to be part of?
ERIN PARKER: I’m actually most excited about the straight play right now. We’ve had several musical extravaganzas in a row and I’m looking forward to something a little more tame.
RAPID FIRE WITH PIPER JONES
JP: First things first, can we just talk about your retro look for “A Studio Tenn Christmas”? AMAZING! Which leads to my first question…if you go back in time to any musical era, when would it be and what style of music would you be performing?
PIPER JONES: Oh my gosh, thank you!! Matt’s got a great eye. I think I’d go with the Big Band Jazz era of the 50s with the Rat Pack, Ella, and the like!!
JP: What Christmas tune gets you every time?
PIPER JONES: Oh man, that’s tough! My favorite Christmas song is Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, but the one that makes me cry is “Grown Up Christmas List”.
JP: Ella Fitzgerald’s “What are You Doing New Years Eve?” or Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”?
PIPER JONES: Hmmm….I think I’d go with “Santa Baby”. It’s cheeky and fun!
JP: What’s your favorite thing your Mom or Grandmother make for Christmas dinner?
PIPER JONES: When I was a kid, we used to do Christmas breakfast. My Grandmother makes a mean red eye gravy to go with the biscuits and ham!!
JP: Best part of being on stage with the Studio Tenn family?
PIPER JONES: They’re some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with…and it really does feel like performing with family. It’s always fresh when we get on stage, but I always feel safe and the laughter is ALWAYS genuine.
Studio Tenn’s “A Studio Tenn Christmas” continues its brief holiday run at Jamison Hall in the Factory at Franklin (230 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN 37064) with performances through Sunday, December 18. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7p.m. with a final Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $35-$90. Click Here for tickets or more information.
Following a brief winter break, Studio Tenn will be back at Jamison Hall with their presentation of recent Tony-award winning drama, “The Elephant Man” from February 16-26. Click Here for tickets. Then its off to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium for a limited-engagement two-night-only run of “The Loretta Legacy: A Tribute to The Coal Miner’s Daughter” on March 31 & April 1. Click Here for tickets. Studio Tenn will then close out the 2016/2017 season back at Jamison Hall for “Monty Python’s Spamalot” from May 4-14. Click Here for tickets. You can also follow Studio Tenn on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest news about the Nashville area’s Broadway-quality local theatre company.
If you’ve enjoyed this special Holiday Edition of my recurring celebrity interview feature, RAPID FIRE 20 Q, subscribe to Nashville Arts Critic by entering your email address in the “Subscribe” section to the right of this article. You can also follow us on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and Tumbler. Interested in coverage of your performing arts events, be sure and drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.