“Theater provides so many things. It is a place for us to express our desires,
our fears, our glories, to revel in them.” – Mike Detroit, producer
When Playhouse on the Square founder, Jackie Nichols, was a young man in Memphis, he found the perfect place to meet girls. It was in theater and
dancing classes. So that’s where Jackie went. But instead of a girl, he ended up falling in love with the magic of the stage. That was 1963.
Today, Jackie is founder and executive director of the cornerstone of the Memphis theatrical community, Playhouse on the Square.
“Playhouse on the Square, which is our main home, now seats 350 people. It’s
mainly used for our main stage productions, usually big musicals. It’s also
designed to accommodate Ballet Memphis, Opera Memphis and the symphony
in these spaces here.” – Jackie Nichols, Playhouse on the Square founder
Along with the Playhouse, Jackie’s stage space includes the Circuit Playhouse for smaller shows, and two other theaters for companies in
residence. All that stage space is complimentary rather than competitive, allowing Playhouse and the Circuit to collectively put on 18 shows each
“Well Jackie Nichols and Playhouse on the Square are veritable institutions here
in Memphis. He’s been a part of the Memphis arts scene for 40 years or more.” – Gretchen McLennon, Hyde Family Foundations
Jackie believes in giving back. At Playhouse and other theaters, he has initiated summer theater programs for children, along with reduced price and
free admission for lower income people who need to escape the hard life with a night at the theater. For more information on Jackie, and upcoming
performances at his theaters, visit www.playhouseonthesquare.org.
For Ruth Barber and Keith Watson, home is a quiet cottage in Emert’s Cove, where the Little Pigeon River flows through the foothills of the
Great Smoky Mountains. When they married in 1988, theirs was a 9-5 life of work and family. Music was a pleasant pastime, but nothing more. Then they
discovered a type of music known as old time.
“It just filled a void I think that we had in us somehow culturally and spiritually
to the mountains, to the people, to the heritage of this area. And ever since
that point, that's all we've done. “ – Keith Watson, old time musician
It’s the traditional folk music of the mountains- ballads, fiddle tunes, spirituals, folk songs and more. Music that began with the first settlers
and continued until the coming of electricity, and the influence of recording and radio. Now Ruth and Keith play it around the house and on the streets
of Gatlinburg to the appreciative ears and tapping toes of Smoky Mountain tourists.
“One of the things about old time music is that it's inclusive. It was never
meant to be a stage musician and an audience. It was intended for the back porch and everybody participated. If you didn't have an instrument you could
sing and you could get some spoons and some knitting needles...tap out a rhythm. It was to include everybody - a whole family, a community.” –
Ruth Barber, old time musician
For more information about Boogertown Gap, and links to listen to samples of their old time music, visit their website at