The spotlight turns: Cumberland County Playhouse subject of proposed new documentary


CROSSVILLE – A proposed new documentary will turn a spotlight on the Cumberland County Playhouse as it continues its 50th anniversary celebration.

Playhouse officials recently announced the film project, which will be headed by Emmy-award winning documentarian Todd Jarrell and WCTE, Cookeville’s PBS-TV affiliate station.

Titled “Bright Lights; Little City: 50 years of the Cumberland County Playhouse,” the proposed film will celebrate and examine the role that the Appalachian community played in Cumberland County’s building a performing arts center over the past five decades. In a rural region considered vastly under-served with other arts opportunities, the Playhouse provides more than 350 performances and 1,200 classes in theater, dance and music each year.

The documentary will focus on the Playhouse’s 50th anniversary special events, current running productions and interviews with staff and alumni. The majority of Jarrell’s nationally released work in television has highlighted the cultural and artistic lives of the people of Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland region, including the award-winning live concert series Bluegrass Underground, filmed inside Cumberland Caverns, 333 feet underground and currently in its fifth season. Other works include “Tree Safari” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

“We are honored to have Todd Jarrell share our story with the world,” Playhouse Producing Director Jim Crabtree said. “To be able to showcase our community and history through his work is a very exciting opportunity for us.”

The Cumberland County Playhouse is calling on the local community to help raise funds for the $125,000 project budget. As of Sept. 17, $87,000 has been collected, including donations from the City of Crossville and others. The funds raised will go toward film rights, closed captioning, cameras, crew, interviews and more. For more information or to donate to the documentary, visit


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