Tuesday, January 13, 2015

'The Ryman Diaries' Musical Stage Play to Hit Nashville Stage on Valentine's Day Weekend

            NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Award-winning actor/playwright/director Tom Dolan and author/musician/educator Debbie Mathis Watts will portray Music City legends Captain Tom Ryman and Bettie Baugh Ryman in the multi-media musical stage play "The Ryman Diaries" from Feb. 13-15 (Valentine's Day Weekend) at the West End United Methodist Church, 2200 West End Ave. in Nashville.

Tom Dolan (Captain Tom Ryman) and Debbie Mathis Watts (Bettie Baugh Ryman) celebrate after a preview presentation at the downtown Nashville Public Library.

          Show times for the play are 7:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 13), 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 14), and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 15). Admission is $12 for adults and $9 for students K-12 and senior citizens age 65 and over. To reserve tickets for "The Ryman Diaries, call (615) 847-8007 or send an e-mail inquiry to wattsd2@att.net.

          Described as a 19th Century love story, "The Ryman Diaries" is a historical drama that depicts the life and times of Cumberland riverboat Captain Tom Ryman as told through the eyes of his wife, Bettie Baugh Ryman. The story covers 70 years of the couple's lives through film media, stage acting, and original musical numbers. It tells of their unlikely romance, marriage, entrepreneurship, raising seven children on a riverboat, ultimate success, Christian conversion at a tent meeting, and the building of the Union Gospel Tabernacle.

           The play is based on Watts' book, with additional dialog from Dolan. The actors penned seven original songs for the production. Film clips feature flashbacks of young Bettie and historical stills provided by the Metro Archives. 

          "Both Bettie and Tom had the hearts of musicians, so it was totally fitting that they would play and sing," said Watts, a former writer/producer for TNN: The Nashville Network. "Their wedding anniversary is Feb. 3, so staging of the play over Valentine's Day Weekend is ideal. They were true romantics who laid the musical foundation for Nashville."

          A veteran educator, professional pianist-vocalist, and author, Watts' theatrical roles include Mollie in "Mousetrap" and Agnes in "I Do, I Do". Dolan has received national acclaim starring as Elwood P. Dowd in "Harvey", Dr. Albert Schweitzer in "Memoirs from Africa", and Sam Clemens in "Mark Twain Live". 

 (Photos and text by Chuck Whiting)

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