The King & I Actor Spotlight – Erin McKinney Tipton

ErinQ: Why did you audition for The King & I?

EMT: I teach 4th grade at Burnsville Elementary with Steve Grindstaff who has been involved in Parkway for years and who directed this season’s first show, Walking Across Egypt. He has been trying to convince me to audition for years.

This year many of my students were involved in Parkway Playhouse Jr. and since drama and peer performance is a focus of the 4th grade English Language Arts curriculum, my reading class performed a short play for a small group of parents and peers. Mary Katherine Smith-Gall (Parkway’s Director of Education and step-mother to one of my students) came and led a lesson about theatre and performing arts. She was a huge help in making our production of Pandora’s Box a huge success! After the performance, she and Parkway’s Artistic Director, Andrew Gall, mentioned that open auditions would be held the following day. By the time school was over that day, Steve had me convinced to go.

Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

EMT: This is the first production (aside from the ones performed by 4th graders) I have ever been involved with. I never even took drama in high school so it has been a totally new experience and I have learned so much!

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

EMT: Teaching 4th grade takes up most of my time, but I also teach Zumba at Burnsville Elementary School and at the Blue Ridge Fitness and Rehabilitation Center.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

EMT:  One of the coolest things about being part of this cast is sharing it with Turner Weinmeister who was in my class last year.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

EMT: My favorite moment so far has to be the first time we rehearsed on the main stage in the playhouse. That is when it really hit me that after all the work, in 2 short weeks the whole show will come together for an audience. At that point all the bits and pieces started to fall into place and I could see the whole picture.

Q: What is your favorite song from the show?

EMT: Small House of Uncle Thomas is one of my favorite songs. Mary Katherine did an amazing job choreographing it. I think it is the only time in the entire show that every member of the cast is part of what’s going on on stage, either dancing or singing. It took a lot of work to get that many people on the same page.

Q: Are there people in your life who have never seen you on stage?

EMT: No one has ever seen me on stage before, but no one was very surprised when I told them I had auditioned.

Q: At what age did you first know you wanted to act?

EMT: I’ve always been interested in acting and loved theatre. I just hadn’t been brave enough to try it myself.

Q: What’s the #1 reason someone should see this show?

EMT: This show runs the whole spectrum of emotions. There are parts that you will laugh out loud and there are parts that you’ll be hard pressed not to cry.

Q: If you could appear onstage with any classic actor or actress, who would it be and why?

EMT: Judy Garland. She was so versatile and talented. The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me In St. Louis are among my favorite movies.

Q: What is it like to work on a Rodgers and Hammerstein production?

EMT: My grandparents were big fans of theatre, especially musicals. My sisters and I spent almost every weekend of our childhood at their house. Since they didn’t have cable until I was in Middle School, we spent many winter Saturdays watching their collection of Rodgers and Hamerstein musicals, memorizing the songs and reenacting scenes in their living room. The King and I was always a favorite of mine so I was ecstatic to have been cast in this as my first show!

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Parkway Playhouse, located in the Appalachian town of Burnsville, NC, is a haven of theatre talent. While people come to the mountains to get away, Parkway Playhouse is a natural gathering place to connect. Likewise, we are an extension of traditional mountain talents: singing, dancing, and, foremost, storytelling. By giving rise to energetic new voices and through a wide variety of plays and musicals, we invite our audience into experiences that are thought-provoking, adventurous, and entertaining. Together we reimagine the world in every live performance, creating dynamic conversations that last far beyond the curtain call. This blog is will feature stories, helpful information, insight and features about the performances.

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