Our friend Terry Turner, the president and owner of All Occasions Party Rentals, couldn’t resist when a band member offered him a tambourine! And why should he? It was a celebration of his company’s 20th anniversary!
If I hear anyone say again that there’s nothing to do in Knoxville, I swear I will slap them. The problem is that there’s TOO MUCH to do! Take last night, for instance. We went to two fun things — and had to miss a third. All were in downtown Knoxville. No telling what was happening in the rest of the city!
First up: The River & Rail Theatre Company, headquartered in the Old City Performing Arts Center, had a fun and unique way to unveil its wonderful 2023-2024 season: A night of trivia and other contests broken up by the individual announcement of each upcoming production.
And, later in the evening, a few blocks away in the new Regas Square Events space on Depot Avenue, the event rentals company, All Occasions Party Rentals, celebrated its 20th year in operation under that name and current ownership. I love their slogan: “Where the Party Starts!”
But first, that theater season party.
The setting was adorable. Vintage furniture was assembled into a series of pods and each trivia team had its own space for eating, drinking and planning trivia answers.
According to Joshua Peterson, River & Rail’s founding artistic director, this concept was developed right after the COVID pandemic when folks were a little nervous about mingling in large crowds. With this arrangement, guests could stay among their own little group, making many feel more comfortable. It worked so well, that the organizers decided to keep the format. This was their third year.
We were the guests of Margie Nichols and John Gill. That’s Alan Carmichael, left, posing with them while we waited for the activities to begin.
Trish and Lyle Irish were on our team, too. The six of us love theater and often go to New York to see plays when Clarence Brown Theatre organizes those fun trips.
The first play of River and Rail’s season will be “A Case for the Existence of God,” which will run Sept. 22 through Oct. 8 of this year.
The New York Times said the play is about “parenthood, financial insecurity and empathy” and said it “argues for hope even in the case of extreme disappointment.” Sounds good.
We hopped over to another pod and saw our downtown friends, from left, Ricky Kennedy, Jim Harness and Katy Wolfe.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will run Dec. 8-23.
In this production, the beloved Christmas movie is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Five actors perform the dozens of characters in the radio play as well as produce the sound effects. Doesn’t that sound interesting?
Joshua Peterson was emcee for the evening.
In addition to the trivia contest, there was a putting contest! Alan represented our team. Unfortunately, we didn’t win. (But sure had fun!) I’m not sure how helpful Joshua’s antics were for Alan’s concentration!
Next up: “Fat Ham,” which will run Feb. 9-25, 2024. (Photo by Margie Nichols.)
“Fat Ham” is a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The play was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play. Wow.
In the ping-pong contest, our team was represented by Trish Irish. We didn’t win that one either, darn it! But, again, had fun cheering her on!
Loved seeing our pal Lila Honaker, posing here with Joshua Peterson.
We kept up our strength with platters of sandwiches and some delicious little crab cakes.
The final play will be “The Burn Vote,” from April 26 through May 12, 2024. (Photo by Margie Nichols.)
This musical, commissioned by the River & Rail Theatre in 2018, is about the final vote by Harry Burn, youngest legislator ever in the history of Nashville, Tennessee, that pushed the 19th amendment to ratification, giving women the right to vote. The story focuses on Harry and his mother, Febb, who wrote him the famous letter that changed his vote from against suffrage, to for it.
So, there you have it. We signed up for the whole season before we left to go to our next stop of the evening, a party to celebrate our friends at All Occasions Party Rentals.
Yep, we are in the right place! These initials of the company were set up outside Regas Square Events, 333 W. Depot Ave. Don’t they just scream, “Party?”
And a party it was! The “yacht rock band,” Smooth Sailor had them on the dance floor!
See what I mean?
That’s Jared Akridge and Melissa White.
All Occasions’ owner and president, Terry Turner, with his wife, Regina.
From left, Janet Testerman Crossley, Dino Cartwright, Janet Testerman and Alan Carmichael.
Carla Paré and Rick Giecek.
Mitchell Moseley and Stefanie Hess.
Regina and Terry Turner with John Moore, right.
If the music got too loud, you had the option of retreating to a clear tent outside.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Doug White and Whitfield Bailey.
Janet Testerman and Blake Gibson.
From left, Joey Creswell, Bob McClellan and Janet Testerman Crossley.
From left, Sherry Jenkins, Terry Turner and his mother, Judy Hedden.
Regina Turner and Eddie Mannis.
Here are Melissa and Doug White on the dance floor. (Did she ever leave it? Ha!)
Terry Turner singing with the band.
From left, Renee Repka, Judy Hedden and Sherry Jenkins.
The party was supposed to end at 9:30. But, when that time rolled around, there was an announcement from stage that it would continue until 10:30!
As we headed toward the door, I loved seeing my buddies Dino Cartwright and Janet Testerman owning the dance floor! Does this town love a party, or what?