New Carousel Theatre to be ‘a jewel box’

A pretty good photobomb! Randy and Jenny Boyd sneaked up behind, from left, Bruce Hartmann, Adrian and Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay, just as I snapped their photo at the Carousel Theatre update last week. Ha.

COVID might have delayed progress on the new Carousel Theatre on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus, but it didn’t stop it!

Supporters of the Clarence Brown Theatre gathered last week for a design update on the planned new version of the intimate little Carousel, located on campus next to the larger Clarence Brown Theatre.

Liz Stowers, left, and her daughter, Rachel. Liz is chair of the Carousel’s capital campaign committee.

“Planning started before COVID and then COVID changed everything — including planning for the new theater,” said Margie Nichols, a member of the capital campaign fundraising committee. “So now we are ready to move forward and wanted to share the plans.”

Nichols said the original Carousel is 70 years old — and was built as a temporary facility in the first place!  “It can no longer serve the needs of the students and patrons,” she said. “Plus, it is also no longer safe.”

The new Carousel Theatre will be named after Jenny Boyd. She and her husband, University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd, donated $5 million to the effort to build the new theater and they hosted the update event, held at The Quarry Venue last week.

The new Carousel will have theater-in-the-round — among other options — and will have its own restrooms and lobby. It also will include space to host receptions. And it will have state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology.

Randy Boyd, UT President and major Carousel Theatre donor, making remarks.

Brandon Pace of Sanders Pace Architecture provided the update. He said that the Carousel’s original architect, Frederick Roth, donated his time and efforts as a “labor of love” when designing the original building. Roth was inspired by a tent and sawdust stage, one that could be constantly adapted to the needs of the performing artists.

Pace said his firm drew inspiration from the original concept and used the “tent and sawdust” theme to guide their decisions. “The goal is to create a space that is intimate and memorable, resembling a jewel box in the campus that honors the importance of the original Carousel Theatre to the art of stagecraft,” he said.

Officials at the event said the project has a $20 million construction budget. The campaign currently is in its preliminary “quiet phase.” Donations are being privately solicited, but the public part of the effort has not yet begun. The new Carousel Theatre will contain 20,000 square feet. Hopefully, officials said, builders will “turn over the keys” in June of 2025.

For background on the Carousel project, click here. To make a donation, click here.

The tables were beautiful.

This is what you call a “working committee!” Chair Liz Stowers lights the candles.

From left, Wes Stowers, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Joe Fielden.

Jim and Natalie Haslam.

Burke and Lezah Pinnell.

From left, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Jan Simek, Randy and Jenny Boyd, and Jan McNally.

RJ Hinde, left, and John Winemiller. Hinde is acting interim executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Leanne Dougherty, center, with Trish and Lyle Irish. Lyle is on the campaign committee.

A large appetizer spread was tempting.

Here’s what that top picture was supposed to look like! From left, Bruce Hartmann, Adrian and Larsen Jay.

Architect Brandon Pace with Margie Nichols.

Tom Cervone, left, and Alan Carmichael. Cervone is managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre and a member of the campaign committee for the Carousel.

Dr. Joe and Jayne DeFiore.

Joe and Ruth Fielden.

Breezy Wynn and Vance Thompson-Wynn.

Bob and Diana Samples.

Alan Carmichael and Debra Thomas. (They go way back!)

From left, Jenny and Randy Boyd, Mayor Indya Kincannon and Tami Hartmann.

Chip Bryant, vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs, with Margie Nichols.

A very interesting salad! Lettuce, radishes, fennel — and potatoes!

From left, Tom Cervone, Nazzy Hashemian and Theresa Lee, who has announced plans to retire as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and return to the faculty.

Chicken breast roulades were tasty entrees.

You see those little wafers on top of the blueberry tarts? I don’t think a single one of them lasted until dessert! (Good job, Holly Hambright and team!)

Show time!

Brandon Pace giving update.

Drawing of new interior. I love the intimacy.

Here’s the exterior of Carousel. Clarence Brown Theatre is on the right.

Andrew Sheehy is assistant vice chancellor for advancement.

We all got toolboxes when we left! They were distributed by Hana Sherman, left, and Shelly Payne.

They contained all kinds of goodies — including these cute and delicious logo cookies!


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8 Responses to New Carousel Theatre to be ‘a jewel box’

  1. Katherine Brennan, on June 8th, 2023 at 3:08 pm said:

    Very nice, needed updating! I remember the Carousel when it was a tent. My friend, Susie and I volunteered there during the summer when in high school, the ’60’s. Loved the plays and the cozy intimacy. But very hot!!!

  2. Bill Tapp, on June 8th, 2023 at 5:11 pm said:

    A special place for Jeanne & me. We first met in 1967 doing how to Succeed in Business. Al Harris was our director. Fond memories. ✔️

  3. Susan Kemppainen, on June 8th, 2023 at 5:47 pm said:

    I worked several shows in the Carousel back in the day. It was/is a great space but I understand how the years have been hard on it.

    Look forward to the new space.

    I do wish, however, a nod could be made to Dr. Paul Soper who headed the original drive for the Carousel and steered the UT Theatre Department.

  4. Monique Anderson, on June 8th, 2023 at 7:26 pm said:

    Very nice to hear about. Always enjoy Carousel Theatre.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on June 8th, 2023 at 10:13 pm said:

    Kathy: What a fun memory! Thanks for sharing.

    Monique: We love it, too.

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on June 8th, 2023 at 10:20 pm said:

    Bill: Great story!

    Susan: Good point. I will pass that on.

  7. Kathy Brennan, on June 9th, 2023 at 7:06 pm said:

    I agree with Susan! We all appreciated Dr Soper and his good work.

  8. Steve Drevik, on June 10th, 2023 at 9:00 am said:

    That 3D rendering is very nice- gives a very good sense of the new design.

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