Special Event: An Elegant Obsession
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An Elegant Obsession
a musical drama by George L. Mabry

Proceeds benefit the
CECA Fund of Excellence

Story by George L. Mabry & Richard Gildrie
Music and Lyrics by George L. Mabry
Orchestrations by APSU alumnus Paul Binkley
Directed by George L. Mabry & Sally Welch

Friday, September 7, 2018
Reception 5:00-7:00 pm, 416 College Street
Performance 7:30-9:00 pm, George & Sharon Mabry Concert Hall
Repeat performance on September 8, 2018 at 7:30 PM

Cast: Brooke Leigh Davis (Senator Kelsey Tate), Galen Fott (Daniel Webster), APSU alumnus Thomas Rowell (John C. Calhoun), and APSU alumnus Cory Schantz (Henry Clay) 

An allegorical fantasy based on the extraordinary lives of three American politicians known as “The Great Triumvirate,” Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun, who, by the mystical means of time travel, find themselves transported to Washington, D.C., in the year 2023, where they learn of the many societal and political changes brought about by 170 years of American history. They also meet the young, vibrant, and commanding U.S. Senator, Kelsey Tate, an African American female graduate of Harvard with a law degree from Yale.

Cast and Creators

George Mabry HeadshotGeorge L. Mabry

Dr. George Mabry, director of The Nashville Symphony Chorus from 1997 to 2012, is professor of music emeritus at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He retired from full time teaching in 2003 after thirty-three years as Director of Choral Activities and director of the Center for the Creative Arts.

Dr. Mabry’s choirs have performed for national and regional conventions of the Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association. A native Tennessean, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and master’s of music and doctor of philosophy degrees from George Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Mabry is active as a choral clinician and festival adjudicator. He has conducted All-State Choirs and Collegiate Honor choirs in Kentucky and Virginia. He is an accomplished composer and arranger with many of his works published by Roger Dean, Sacred Music Press, St. James Press and Hinshaw Music.

Under his direction, the Nashville Symphony Chorus appeared on several Nashville Symphony recordings, including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and John Corigliano’s Dylan Thomas Trilogy, and Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. Dr. Mabry has prepared choruses for Leonard Slatkin, Robert Shaw, Kenneth Schermerhorn, Helmuth Rilling, Neville Marriner and other renowned conductors.

Dr. Mabry was commissioned to write and produce the musical show Sing Tennessee for the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. In 1984, his musical Clarksville Movin’ On was premiered as part of the Bicentennial celebration of the City of Clarksville. Formerly, he was Director of Entertainment for Opryland U.S.A. and he has produced musical shows for Silver Dollar City and Fiesta Texas. While at Opryland, his musical shows toured the Soviet Union under the auspices of the U.S. State Department and were performed twice for the President of the United States at the White House. In 2003, Dr. Mabry was the recipient of the Tennessee Arts Commission Governor’s Award in the Arts for Arts Leadership and the Tennessee Arts Academy Spirit of Tennessee award for his creative leadership in arts education. In 1983, he was honored as the first Austin Peay faculty member to receive both the Distinguished Professor Award and the Richard M. Hawkins Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement.

In 2012, he retired from his position as Choral Director for the Nashville Symphony in order to devote full time to musical composition. He resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife of 50 years, Sharon, who is Professor of Voice at Austin Peay State University. Addenda: The chorus and orchestra of the University North Carolina at Greensboro premiered “Music of the Spheres,” for SATB Chorus and Orchestra in 2013. The Nashville Symphony and Chorus have performed several of his works, including “Three Poems of Emily Dickinson” for Women’s Chorus and Orchestra and “If Music Be the Food of Love” for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra. In 2011, his chamber opera, “Ben and the Virtues” was premiered at Austin Peay State University. His setting of “O Magnum Mysterium,” for a cappella mixed chorus, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2014. His musical drama “Voices” for Seven Singers and Chamber Orchestra, will receive its premiere in October 2015. The premiere of “An Elegant Obsession” a 2-hour dramatic musical based on the lives of “The Great Triumvirate,” Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun will take place in September of 2018.

Richard GildrieRichard P. Gildrie

Dr. Richard P. Gildrie taught American History at Austin Peay State University frim 1970-2009. He is a published author of five books and numerous scholarly articles in academic journals. His research of American history includes expertise in the American Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the history of Middle Tennessee. Gildrie is a graduate of Eckerd College (B.A.) and the University of Virginia (MA and PhD in History). Gildrie receive the APSU Distinguished Professor in 1980 for teaching and the APSU Richard M. Hawkins Award in 1984 for research. He was also named a Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Professor for Community Service in 1998. He has served as a frequent consultant for historical projects in Clarksville, including historical plaque markers and Fort Defiance.

SallyWelchSally Welch

Sally Welch is a native of Montgomery County, and among the first to graduate as a Theatre Major from Austin Peay State University. As a work study scholarship student at The Lee Strasberg Institute in NYC, she attended professional acting classes and studied in Master classes with Lee Strasberg.

She taught theatre at Northwest High School, and as a adjunct in theatre for Austin Peay State University. Teacher exchanges, took her to Hampshire, England as a theatre instructor and as an observer and participant in classes to Bremerhaven, Germany.

Locally, Sally has been on stage at Austin Peay, The Roxy Regional Theatre,and The Cumberland Arts Center. She appeared in Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and other theatre productions in Nashville, in regional theatres in the southeast and in an Off Broadway production as Medea. She directed award winning plays for her USA, and UK students and enjoyed directing at The Roxy Regional Theatre, Trinity Episcopal Church,and as an alumni, director For APSU Theatre Dept.

She is grateful for being inducted into The Tennessee Speech and Drama League Hall of Fame and as a recipient of The Ovation Award from The Center of Excellence. Most of all, she is xcited at being “fished” out of retirement by George and Sharon with the most wonderful lure: “An Elegant Obsession.”

BrookeLeighDavisBrooke Leigh Davis

Brooke Leigh Davis is a Nashville-based singer, actress, and entertainer who was born and raised in St. Paul, MN. After studying vocal performance at Tennessee State University under the instruction of William G. Crimm, Brooke spent time continuing to develop her skills with various Nashville church choirs and as a member of the Nashville Symphony Chorus.

Some of Brooke’s stage credits include Carousel (Julie Jordan), Fame-The Musical (Ms. Bell), Ragtime (Sarah’s Friend), South Pacific (Bloody Mary), scenes from Porgy and Bess (Bess), and A Raisin in the Sun (Mama).  She has also had featured and ensemble roles in West Side Story (Rosalia), Memphis, and Godspell. Her favorite roles include Glenda (The Wiz), Sister Sarah (Sanctified), Robert Anne (Nunsense), Luwanda (Nashville and New York premieres of The First Church Mary, The Repentant Prostitute’s, Fifth Annual Benefit Concert, Revival and Potluck Dinner, and Caroline (Caroline, or Change).

The concert stage is where Brooke feels most at home having appeared as special guest in concerts in Nashville, Minneapolis, as well as numerous concert events across the country. Brooke has produced her own concert series. Her first concert titled Journeys was an exploration of music that has influenced her love of music and life and what has created the voice she has today. The second concert, The Fabulous Life, was a collection of music on the wish list of some of the songs she has always wanted to sing. Both concerts featured music from the Music Theater, Opera, Rhythm & Blues, and Gospel genres.

Today, Brooke is the worship leader at Unity of Nashville, a member of the Nashville Opera Chorus, and V2V, a local gospel choir. You can find Brooke in the Nashville Opera spring 2019 production of The Cradle Will Rock as Ella Hammer. Brooke is also planning the third and final installment in her concert series, Lessons Learned, to be done with the release of her debut CD.

Galen Fott HeadshotGalen Fott

Galen Fott* is a Nashville-based actor, singer, director, animator, and puppeteer. Originally from Clarksville, he received a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Memphis. Galen has worked with most of the major performing arts organizations in Nashville, including the Nashville Shakespeare Festival (Leontes in The Winter’s Tale), Nashville Rep (Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd), Nashville Children’s Theatre (nine roles in Mr. Popper’s Penguins), the Nashville Symphony (Steve the Stupendous in Music and Magic), Wishing Chair Productions (Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels), and Studio Tenn (Evita). Upcoming performances include the Storyteller and Dr. Amoss in Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders in Adams TN, Torvald in A Doll’s House, Part 2 with Nashville Rep, King Triton in Disney’s The Little Mermaid with Nashville Children’s Theatre, Max in Wellesley Girl with Pipeline-Collective, and Mr. Mister in The Cradle Will Rock with Nashville Opera.

In other parts of the country, Galen has played the title roles in Cyrano, Phantom, and Jesus Christ Superstar; King Arthur in Camelot; and Matt Friedman in Talley’s Folly. In 1991, Galen originated the role of Gaston in the still-running Beauty and the Beast stage show at Walt Disney World. Other performing highlights include the national tour of Mame starring Juliet Prowse, singing at Carnegie Hall, and with Houston Grand Opera. As a director and animator, Galen has adapted nineteen children's books into award-winning films for Scholastic/Weston Woods. Other animation clients include Sesame Workshop, NPT, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Kroger, Trace Adkins, and Dollywood. As a puppeteer, Galen has performed with the Jim Henson Company and Wishing Chair Productions. In a previous life, he co-authored eight books on computer graphics and was a contributing editor to PC Magazine. Galen lives in Nashville with his wife Laura and son Burton. *Galen Fott is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Thomas Rowell HeadshotThomas Rowell

Dr. Thomas L. Rowell, tenor, is Associate Professor of Music at the University of South Alabama where he serves as the Voice Area Coordinator and teaches Opera Theatre and Vocal/Opera Literature. He also teaches studio voice, vocal pedagogy and song literature and directs the USA Opera Theatre. His vocal and choral teachers include George C. Martin, Joseph Blass, Sharon C. Mabry, David Robinson, George Mabry, and C. David Keith. Vocal coaches/artists and conductors Dr. Rowell has worked with include Amy Johnson, Vernon Hartman, Mark Thomsen, James Taylor, William Cotten, Jim Caraher, Hugh Keelan, Jerome Shannon, Kamal Khan, Michael Borowitz, Hal France, Andy Anderson, Jeffrey Rink, Xiaolun Chen, and Danielle Orlando.

Currently, Dr. Rowell He maintains a very active performing schedule as a recitalist, soloist and roles with regional opera companies. He has appeared as tenor soloist with Nashville Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Northwest Florida Symphony, Mobile Pops, Baldwin Pops, University of South Alabama Symphonic Band, University of Alabama Orchestra, and Bluffton University Orchestra. He will appear with the Choral Society of Pensacola as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah in December 2014, and with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra as tenor soloist for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in March 2015.

Rowell has performed numerous operatic roles with Mobile and Pensacola Opera, including Judge Danforth in The Crucible, Parpignol in La Boheme, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, St. Brioche in The Merry Widow, Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Ruiz in Il Trovatore, Gastone in La Traviata, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, Incredible in Andrea Chenier, Elder Hayes in Susannah, Der Steuermann in Der Fliegende Holländer, both Pong and Pang in Turandot, Spoletta in Tosca, Nick in La Fanciulla del West, Ko Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and Goro in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Internationally, Dr. Rowell appeared as Tinca in Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Spinelloccio/Il Notario in Gianni Schicchi at Teatro Bramante in Urbania, Italy. This season he will perform the role of Schmidt in Massenet’s Werther and the roles of Edmondo, the Dancing Master, and the Lamplighter in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with Mobile Opera.

In addition to his teaching and performing, Dr. Rowell has served as choral clinician and conductor of Mobile County Honor Choir, Alabama Independent Schools Association State Honor Choir, Mobile Opera Chorus, and Bella Voce of Mobile, Mobile’s premiere women’s chorus.

Dr. Rowell currently serves as President of the Alabama Chapter of National Association of Teachers of Singing, and has served as Registrar for the Southeastern Region of NATS as well.

Corey Schantz HeadshotCory Schantz

Dr. Cory Schantz is an Oklahoma native, is a versatile baritone and captivating performer with a wide dramatic and comedic range. Displaying a voice of both brilliance and depth, Schantz has appeared in numerous roles with The Atlanta Opera, including Count Ceprano in Atlanta Opera’s triumphant production of Rigoletto. He was recognized as an “engaging presence on stage” by the Baltimore Sun following his professional debut as Wagner in Gounod’s Faust at Baltimore Opera, a role he reprised with Atlanta Opera, where critics called the role “handsomely sung.”

Dr. Schantz returned to Atlanta in the role of Fiorello in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He debuted with Rimrock Opera in Billings, MT in 2014 as Giorgio Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata. Mr. Schantz appeared in Tulsa Opera’s stirring production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, a performance hailed by critics as the finest production by the company in a decade. He has also performed principal roles with Wichita Grand Opera, Springfield Regional Opera, Union Avenue Opera, and Winter Opera of St. Louis. His 2017 schedule included the role of Sharpless in the First Coast Opera production Madama Butterfly, and the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado with Capitol City Opera (Atlanta). He will make his Opera Birmingham debut in 2018, singing the role of Capulet in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

An active recitalist and interpreter of oratorio, he has appeared as baritone soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Enid Symphony Orchestra, the Billings Messiah Festival, and Brazos Chamber Orchestra and other venues. He has appeared in recital and presented masterclasses at numerous colleges and universities, including University of Connecticut, University of Tennessee, Elon University, University of South Alabama, and the University of New Hampshire.

Schantz made his New York City debut in December 2015 with the New York Repertory Singers in the world premiere of Winter’s Light, a song cycle for Soprano, Baritone, Chamber Chorus, and Orchestra by Michael John Trotta. He has also performed as soloist with a number of regional symphony orchestras, most recently the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Schantz is an alumnus of Austin Peay State University, where he received the Master of Music in Vocal Performance degree. He studied with Marilyn Horne at The University of Oklahoma (where he earned his D.M.A.) and the Académie Musicale de Villecroze (France). Currently, he is Director of Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia.

Paul Binkley HeadshotPaul Carrol Binkley

Paul Carrol Binkley trained at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Austin Peay State University, and Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt. He has composed, music directed, and sound designed for over 35 years for theatres including Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Vanderbilt University Theatre (Fred Coe Artist-in-Residence), The Coterie (Kansas City), Hudson Theatre (Hollywood), and Falcon Theatre (Burbank). His original musical Jack’s Tale (co-written by Scot Copeland) enjoyed its 2015 world premiere at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His score for Copeland’s musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows and songs in Laurie Brooks’ Selkie: Between Land and Sea are both published by Dramatic Publishing. His collaboration with Lynn Marie Rink and producer Paul Miller on Rink’s original one-woman show, Wrap Your Heart Around It, garnered Best Production in the United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC in 2012.

His solo recordings Silent Serenade, Closer to Home, Passages for Acoustic Guitar, Flying Colors, and Do You Hear What I Hear, have received national recognition on such broadcasts as “Music from the Hearts of Space” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Since moving to Nashville in 1981, he has maintained a highly active recording and performing career spanning a wide variety of musical genres. Credits include Nashville Opera, Nashville Jazz Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Studio Tenn, T.P.A.C. Broadway Series National tours, Percy Sledge, The Fifth Dimension, Lorrie Morgan, the McCarters, Mandy Barnett, Jim Nabors, Marty Raybon, and five years with country super group Alabama. Binkley also runs his own independent label, PCB Music, and works as a musicologist and copyright infringement consultant for several national clients including: Samsung, Google, Honda, Sprint, Target, EA Sports, and Apple.

$25 general admission, adult
$100 for reserved seating and formal reception (September 7 only)
APSU students free with ID, but ticket required
$10 general admission, children 18 and under

Click here to purchase general admission tickets on Marketplace
Click here to purchase VIP package with reception/reserved seating on Marketplace (September 7th only)

Tickets may also be purchased by mailed check. Tickets to the formal reception must be purchased by August 31. 
For more information, contact CECA at 931-221-7876. 

Made possible through a grant from

arts commission logo
and the following generous sponsors:

Wayne Ard
Dee Boaz
David and Becky Farris

Solie Fott
Jim Marshall
Jim and Dottie Mann

AEO Sponsors


To become a sponsor for this event, please contact Advancement at 931-221-7127 or email advancement@apsu.edu

Special Event Committee Members:
Charlsie Halliburton
Hampton Bourne
Marydith Young