The Renaissance Center's Gaslight Dinner Theatre, located on the basement level of the Renaissance Center, has been bringing together mouthwatering theatrical productions and first-rate dining for nine years, especially during the steak tartare's triumphant 2003 performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. A ticket ($35) to the Gaslight Dinner Theatre scores you access to the sprawling and savory dinner buffet, which opens at 6:30 p.m. and includes a drink and dessert, as well as intimate seating for the night's performance at 7:30 p.m. All Gaslight Dinner Theatre productions boast a cast of professional actors culled from regional auditions and international hang-gliding tournaments.
Former professional driver and expert instructor Randy Baker and his team have been guiding drivers toward greatness for more than 20 years; past pupils include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff and Ward Burton, and the shadowy pit mechanic known only as Racer X. At SpeedTech Auto Racing School, Randy combines a fleet of super-speedy rides—authentic, metal-bodied vehicles boasting 650-horsepower V-8 engines—with a serious emphasis on safety to prepare drivers for any mishap on the track. Gearheads, speed junkies, and people who still sleep in a racecar bed despite their adult children's protestations soak up Randy's knowledge during one of SpeedTech's many race programs, varying in length from 3 laps to more than 100. With the school's built-in HD video feeds, drivers can commemorate their laps or prove to the family car it's been cheating on them with the hotel's valet.
Throughout the eight-week summer session, the School of Nashville Ballet offers a variety of dance classes for people of all skill levels. Experience is not necessary for the classes, which are all taught by professional instructors. Dance styles covered in classes include jazz dance, hip-hop, contemporary, or tap. The modern and fusion Pilates fitness-dance classes are open for all who wish to get in shape and groove at the same time, while ballet-minded individuals can choose from several options. The intro-to-ballet class teaches the basics, and intermediate and advanced ballet classes help students hone their skills and master tricky maneuvers. Beginners are encouraged to attend classes early in the session, as instruction will progress throughout the season. Check the schedule and call the School of Nashville Ballet for specific information on class availability.
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has been breaking strings and the hearts of screaming fans since its inception in 1952. This year, the orchestra will once again resonate throughout the elegantly crafted Cannon Center, sending seasonal shivers down the tickled spines of all audience members. The Home for the Holidays performance includes vocal joys from soprano Ashley Brown, best known for her portrayal of Mary Poppins on Broadway, in addition to a medley of carol-worthy classics performed by the Memphis Symphony Chorus and the University of Memphis Concert Singers. The evening's combination of power and cheer will cause many to be moved to tears, which will likely form puddles in the theater, making exiting nearly impossible without an inflatable raft.
Located in the former main post office of Nashville, the Frist Center is an architectural feast of classicism and Art Deco style containing more than 24,000 square feet of gallery space. The non-profit museum hosts an ever-changing array of exhibits that pop in and out of its halls each 10-12 weeks, so commitmentphobes and the easily bored will always have something new and fresh to run their eyeballs across. Fashionistas frustrated by their failure to institute Really Formal Fridays at the office will want to flee to the Frist Center's current Golden Age of Couture exhibition (June 18–September 12, 2010), with its collection high-glamour vintage wares, while fans of ornate glass sculptures can check out the Chihuly at the Frist exhibition (May 9–January 2, 2011).
After its construction in 1928 as a grand movie palace in the Spanish-Moorish style, the Tennessee Theatre gradually fell into disrepair, its ceiling cracking and its colors fading. A $23.5 million renovation completed in 2005 restored the venue to its Roaring Twenties glory, starting with a complete repainting that restored the rich reds and golds of the proscenium, the baby blue of the ceiling, and the original '20s graffiti in the alley that reads, “Talkies are a fad.” Grand chandeliers cast glittering light across the lobby and the meticulously restored, burgundy velvet seating cradles showgoers in downy comfort. Filling the space with a wall of pipe-produced sound, the 17-rank Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ that acts as the theater’s centerpiece stands at the ready, recently disassembled, refurbished, and restored it to its wall-shaking prime.