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Shiners Is a Brilliant Use of a Landmark Building in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Nashville, Tennessee has borrowed a line from Vegas - what happens in NASHVEGAS, stays in NASHVEGAS. That statement may apply to the successful musical Shiners which combines elements of Broadway, Cirque du Soleil and Vegas in a racy, raucous, risqué and very unique production. The premise of this 75-minute show is that you are attending a family reunion of moonshiners.

Chuck Wicks as 'Mason Shiner' in Nashville.

Co-creator and country music artist Chuck Wicks is Mason Shiner who acts as emcee and along with his sister Violet are the two main vocalists in the group. The rest of the relatives have other assorted talents which are revealed as the show unfolds. As we took our seats some of the Shiners were stumbling around the theater while taking a moment to speak with some audience members.

Throughout the night the crowd was encouraged to participate in call and response numbers. Towards the end of the reunion a few brave souls joined the family on stage for a game show that turned into a contest of who could make the best animals calls led by the animated Atlas Chaps Shiner.

Laura Osnes as 'Violet Shiner' in Nashville.

As is often the case among kin, fights break out. Early on, Sugar and Spice who are aerial artists were having a cat fight in the air which required plenty of skill and strength by the two sexy ladies. Next, a sensual drunken dance by the men led to Uncle Buck (contortionist) twisting and turning his body in impossible ways. He would play a joke on Jim Bo & Bo Bo Shiner by giving them love moonshine instead of muscle moonshine. Soon the Hand-to-Hand artists were using all of their muscles to balance and support each other in a series of highly difficult stunts. Jo Fixit shined in the air and on the acrobatic pole while also performing spirited moves.

Much of the Shiners' humor is clearly aimed at adults so there is a reason that they check ID upon entry to the venue. For us the best part of this production were all the amazing aerobatics that took place throughout the reunion. Plus, just like on Broadway they ended it with a full cast song sharing the production's ultimately hopeful message that - "You Deserve To Shine".

Araz Hamzayev as 'Uncle Buck' in Nashville.

Shiners is currently hosted at the Woolworth Theater in downtown Nashville. The venue opened in 2022 as a state-of-the-art theater, lounge and event space. They were serving beer, signature drinks, wine and bites before, during and after the show so that people could party with the family. The Woolworth Theater is a warm inviting space set in brick and wood tones that can accommodate seated or standing set-ups. It also has an important place in U.S. history.

Built in the 1890's, the building was home to several businesses before Woolworth opened one of their original "five and dime" stores there in 1913. Several years later a lunch counter was added but because of Jim Crow laws black citizens were prohibited from these public lunch spots. In the 1960, a group of students held "sit-ins" to peacefully protest these unjust laws.

Michael Tumelo Moloi as 'Atlas Chaps Shiner' in Nashville.

One of the young men who participated in the Nashville demonstrations was John Lewis who would later serve in the House of Representatives. In time these discriminatory rules were abolished thanks to courageous people like John Lewis and MLK. Today, an important piece of this story is preserved in the window of the Woolworth Theater so check it out as you are attending Shiners or other events at this modern NASHVEGAS venue.

So, although the subject matter of Shiners might be controversial to some the show's producers have stumbled onto a genius concept that is getting many more bodies through the doors of the landmark Woolworth Building than the previous restaurant configuration did. Every night they throw a party, engage in a quick and well-crafted performance that venerates bootlegged hooch, and then they invite all the attendees to join the cast downstairs for an after show to drink some more. In Nashville - that's a winning formula any day of the week.

Shiners is a first of its kind entertainment destination in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on SHINERS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Shiners | Woolworth Theatre


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