I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions, but I love to think back on a year filled with special memories and milestones. Here at the Tennessee Theatre, we’re in the business of creating lifelong memories for our patrons and their loved ones, so let me share with you some of the highlights of this grand venue’s 90th year.
The Tennessee Theatre continues to be a must-see attraction for visitors and locals, once again topping the TripAdvisor list, “Things To Do in Knoxville.” This year we welcomed nearly 200,000 attendees, many of whom enjoyed sold-out events such as Alison Krauss, The Temptations and The Four Tops, Black Jacket Symphony, Aziz Ansari, John Prine, Harry Connick Jr., and Bob Dylan. Broadway’s eleventh season featured timeless classics like The King & I and The Wizard of Oz, as well as shows packed with popular hits: Motown the Musical and Beautiful : The Carole King Musical. In July, a guest attending The Book of Mormon was our 2 millionth attendee since the 2005 renovation.
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Opera, and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra – standouts of the local performing arts landscape – offered enduring masterpieces throughout the year. And what’s a movie palace without movies? Summer Movie Magic spanned the decades, screening favorites from the 1940s to the 1990s; and for the first time ever, all of our ticketed holiday movies sold out in advance.
After months of planning for the Theatre’s 90th anniversary, we had an official announcement in late July and festive events starting September 29. The Tennessee Theatre celebrated its birthday on October 1, but we’ve kept the party going for 90 days with special concerts, pop-up events, open houses and tours, a silent film screening, and even a birthday party on stage for special guests aged 90 and older. Our 90th anniversary was also a time to say thank you and farewell to a dear friend and dedicated ambassador of the Tennessee Theatre: beloved House Organist Dr. Bill Snyder retired from his volunteer position after 39 years. While Bill will still be around, his duties are now filled by the talented Freddie Brabson. To mark the occasion and celebrate our friend, a beautiful portrait of Bill now hangs in the balcony foyer. Be sure to look for it on your next visit.
We continue to seek ways to welcome even more people into the Tennessee Theatre. A partnership with the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and the Knoxville Area Urban League marked a poignant anniversary of desegregation 55 years ago, and we encouraged young students from Anderson County to improve their reading skills while performing skits on the stage. Thousands of senior citizens attended Mighty Musical Monday, the free monthly Wurlitzer concert series; and just before Halloween, young and old alike enjoyed classic cartoons and trick-or-treating. Finding ways to connect with new and diverse audiences remains a priority, because we firmly believe the Tennessee Theatre belongs to everyone.
So, while I’m not great at New Year’s resolutions, I can tell you that the Tennessee has very big plans for 2019 and beyond: plans that will help us better serve our current patrons, while expanding opportunities to develop new performing arts enthusiasts of all ages and from all walks of life. There will be more information to share later next year, so please stay tuned!
All of these milestones and dreams are possible in large part because of your generous and ongoing support. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for believing in our past, present, and future. We can’t wait to see you in 2019!
-Becky Hancock, Executive Director