JR: Last year, Andrew mentioned that he was working on a project that involved a locally-written book, the Civil War, ghosts, and that it would be a world premiere play with the chance to meet the author. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. My Book Club read Ghost Riders and we were fascinated with all of the local history and interesting characters. We couldn’t really put our finger on the character of Nora Bonesteel, for one thing. I’m really looking forward to portraying this very cool, but mysterious, woman. I’ve also always wanted to see a ghost, and now I get to!
Q: What shows might people have seen you in before (and not just at Parkway)?
JR: Most recently, I was in a play called Frozen, by Bryony Lavery, out in Waynesville, NC in the HART Studio, which was directed by Andrew Gall. Before that, I was in A Few Good Men (Parkway), Falsettoland (HART Studio), MILF The Musical (Magnetic Field, Asheville), 9 to 5 The Musical (Parkway), Mama Won’t Fly (Parkway), Robin Hood (Parkway), The Miracle Worker (Parkway), and Annie (Parkway). Prior to my first season at Parkway, I performed at Asheville Community Theater and the Diana Wortham Theater in Asheville.
Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?
JR: It’s very early in the process right now, but I really like to see Trinity and Scott rehearse. They are seasoned actors who know how to communicate well with each other. Even when reading lines from the script, you see them turn to each other as if they’re really having this conversation. It’s inspiring to me.
Q: What is your favorite line from the show?
JR: My favorite line is from Colonel Vance, to Malinda Blalock, “Madame, we dare not keep you.” I love it because it shows how strong, smart, capable, and unknowingly-witty Malinda Blalock is. You’ll just have to see the show to find out what she does to prompt this response from the future Governor of North Carolina!
Q: At what age did you first know you wanted to act?
JR: I’ve always wanted to act since I was in middle school, but I had to make a choice between theater and sports, since they both met after school at the same time. I always chose sports, but went to the theater performances with a sense of longing. It wasn’t until I moved to Asheville at age 34 that I decided to take my first acting class. I’ve been in love with it ever since!
Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?
JR: A lot of “Awesome!” and a little of “OMG!” In a world premiere play, you get to create a character that has never been played on stage before. You get to be so creative! People who perform the play in the future will see my name in the script and look to our world premiere version as the “foundation”. On the other hand, some of our characters are based on real people. You don’t want to be “too creative” and get it wrong in front of the actual person or their ancestors. It’s not like you can go to YouTube and watch videos of other actresses’ versions of this character either. I’d say it’s a healthy dose of nerve-wracking!
Q: Anything else that you’d like people to know about you?
JR: Just a shout out to my husband, Jason Russ, without whose 100% support for my passion, I wouldn’t be free to wholeheartedly jump into these roles as often as I do.