Jenkins jousts with greed in ‘Madwoman’

Betsy PickleOur Town Arts

Clarence Brown Theatre wraps up its 2018-19 season with a comical battle of good vs. evil in “The Madwoman of Chaillot.” Written by French playwright Jean Giraudoux in 1943 and first performed in 1945, the play holds greed up for rebuke, making it relevant for any era. A second preview is tonight, and opening night is Friday, April 26.

Carol Mayo Jenkins, artist in residence at the University of Tennessee Department of Theatre, plays the title character, a somewhat dotty countess who seems out of touch with modern times. When she learns that greedy businessmen are planning to tear up the streets of Paris to get at the oil supposedly flowing beneath them, she recruits her cronies to put the villains on “trial.”

This version of the play was translated by Laurence Senelick, so fans of the 1969 film version starring Katharine Hepburn (based on the translation by Maurice Valency) shouldn’t expect to hear the exact same lines. Another difference: Hepburn was 62 when she played Aurelia; Jenkins is 80 – way to go, CMJ!

Jenkins, a Knoxville native, got her start at Clarence Brown when she was a teenager, and she has performed there frequently since she returned to her hometown nearly two decades ago. She earned acclaim acting on stages on Broadway and around the world before and after starring for five seasons on the beloved TV show “Fame,” but she has become an icon teaching and mentoring actors at UT.

In addition to Jenkins, faculty performing in the play include David Brian Alley, Katie Cunningham, Brian Gligor and Terry Weber. Other cast members are UT Theatre graduate and undergraduate students and visiting guest and community professional actors. Paul Barnes is the director.

There is a free pre-show discussion with dramaturg Kerri Ann Considine from 6:30 to 7 tonight in the Lab Theatre before the preview at 7:30 p.m. at the CBT mainstage. The regular run begins Friday, April 26, and continues through May 12. An actor talk-back will take place following the 2 p.m. May 5 show. The open-captioned performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12.

Tickets are available through the box office, 865-974-5161, or online.

Handel Society looks up for inspiration

The Knoxville Handel Society will present its spring concert, “How Great Thou Art: Glorious Hymns & Classical Anthems,” at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at First Baptist Church, 510 W. Main St.

The multigenerational Handel Society choir will perform best-loved hymns and anthems accompanied by full orchestra, piano, pipe organ and bagpipes.

Tickets are available through or by calling 865-656-4444. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 per person for groups of four or more; $10 for college students; and free for students K-12, but those must be ordered in person at Thompson-Boling Arena box office by 5 p.m. Saturday. Any remaining tickets will be available at the church beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Knox quilt part of exhibit at state museum

If you’re planning a trip to Nashville anytime soon, try to fit in a visit to the Tennessee State Museum to salute a piece of Knox County history.

The Eight-Pointed Star quilt at right is believed to be the work of an 18th-century Knox Countian.

“Between the Layers: Art and Story in Tennessee Quilts” – the museum’s first new show to open since its grand opening last fall – features an Eight-Pointed Star Quilt by Sophie Mitchell or one of her descendants, dated between 1860 and 1900.

It is from a group of quilts attributed to Mitchell (1796-1860), who moved from Colburn, Va., to Knox County as a child and lived at the Four-Way Inn between Knoxville and Strawberry Plains.

The quilt shows how a large, central eight-pointed star can fill the entire top of a mattress and how a quilt maker designed the borders around the star to fall gracefully over the sides of a bed.

Curators are not positive about the quilt’s creator because the colors in it were more fashionable after the Civil War, so it may have been made by one of Mitchell’s descendants who lived in Kentucky.

“Between the Layers” features nearly 40 quilts selected from the museum’s vast collection. They highlight Tennessee’s quilt artistry across more than two centuries and represent all three grand divisions of the state. The exhibit runs through July 7.

Oh yeah, if you’re more into football than stitchery, you can check out “Touchdown Titans! The NFL in Tennessee,” a special display through May 5 marking 20 years of the Titans (previously the Oilers) in Music City and coinciding with the NFL Draft in Nashville today through Saturday, April 25-27.

The museum is free and open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Thursdays; and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. For more info, visit the website.




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