NEW THEATRE GROUP TAKES THE STAGE AT THE PRINCESS





by Richard Evans, Roane County News, July 8, 2019



A new entertainment venture is coming to Harriman.

The Three Rivers Theatre Company, a division of Center Field Productions LLC, is the brainchild of owners Donnie Hall and his wife, Martha Wilkinson.





Hall said the Princess Theatre will serve as the "home-field" for productions of live theatre and a radio show -- "The Three Rivers Jamboree." Hall and wilkinson will host the radio variety show, which will be recorded in front of a live audience. A variety of local talent from around the regin will be featured, representing multiple musical genres.

Hall said the program will feature good news stories, spotlight veterans and other hometown heroes and will feature short radio dramas.

The first show is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23. The Three Rivers Jamboree will be performed every other Tuesday night and Hall said the eventual goal is to get the show into syndication.

The company will bring a production of "Smoke on the Mountain' to the Princess on Aug. 16. since it is the first play they will produce in Harriman, Hall said some friends have agree to step up and perform.

The play, "And the Moon Stayed," will be a community theatre project. That play is scheduled for Oct. 11. Later in October, Hall said he hopes to perform the Orson Welles classic, "War of the Worlds" for a radio broadcast. That too will be a community theatre project.

A Christmas program is also in the works for December and in 2020, no less than eight productions inolving community theatre are planned.

Hall and Wilkinson also want to start a regular series of films to be shown at the Princess.

The couple brings more than dreams to Roane County - they bring a wealth of experience in the entertainment industry.

"After having managed the nation's second oldest dinner theatre for nearly two decades, Martha suggested not too long ago, 'I thnk it's time to go home and share our blessing with other.' East Tennessee is the perfect fit for us. we both dreamed of getting out of the hustle and bustle - and gridlocked traffic - of city life and rediscover our small town roots," Hall said.

Wilkinson, who studied drama at Berry College, Alliance Theatre and North Carolina School of the Arts, is a native of Rome, Ga.

She made her professional debut in 1985 at Corssville's Cumberland County Playhouse.

For the past 30 years, she has been a professional actor and director in Nashville and throughout the region.

She has appeared in 200 productions and has directed nearly as many more.

Wilkinson has won nine First Night Awards, Nashville's local "Tony" awards for her work in musical theatre.

She has performed professionally with the Nashville Repertory Company, Nashville Children's Theatre, The Nashville Opera, Nashville Shakespeare Company, Tennessee Theatre Company, Chaffin's Barn Theatre, Street Theatre company and People's Branch Theatre.

"I am absolutely beside myself to be involved in brining community theatre to Roane County and East Tennessee. I am equally excited for the opportunities we can offer in arts education," Wilkinson said.

Harriman native hall has a career in entertainment that spans three-plus decades.

Ranging from sprots writing at the age of 14 to being a radio announce at the age of 15. He had stints at several radio stations across East Tennessee before he joined the U.S. Army, where he became a local sensation in Germany hosting a morning radio program at the Armed Forces Network Europe.

From there he moved to more radio jobs and a stint in the U.S. Coast guard before going into acting and film production.

"I can't tell you how thrilled it makes me to produce 'The Three Rivers Jamboree' from my hometown theatre where I used to watch dollar movies on Tuesday night," Hall said.

He and Wilkinson want to establish a stock theatre company in Tennessee, perhaps giving college students from around the region an opportunity to gain not only acting experience, but production experience as well.

"We hope to work closely with Roane State and other colleges in the area," he said.

Hall said the theatre company will also need support behind the scenes and hopes to attract support from local businesses to underwrite some of the projects.