A Parkway Playhouse Memory – Summer 1979


We have Parkway Playhouse to thank for 26 years of marriage and a 37-year relationship. It was June 1979, and Parkway Playhouse was embarking on its 33rd season. At that time Parkway was operated by UNCG’s theatre department as a rigorous venue for its drama majors. Luckily for us, a few spots were open to outside students and we—Barb coming from Pittsburgh, PA, and me from Greensboro, NC—made the cut. That summer five productions were cast on a single day and rehearsals often ran simultaneously and long into the night. Each new show opened a few days after the previous one closed. It was non-stop work rehearsing, building sets, sewing costumes—often until 1am. The actors did everything, including box office shifts. But we were both 20, full of youthful energy, and falling in love. I was cast in the season’s first show, You Can’t Take It With You opposite a Parkway Playhouse institution, Mr. W.C. “Mutt” Burton (who had just finished his work on the Peter Sellers/Shirley MacLaine film, Being There at Biltmore House). We had only 10 days of intensive rehearsal to get the show ready for opening. We even had to drive into South Carolina just to buy legal firecrackers to use in the play. This show and the four that followed made for a memorable summer. We didn’t want to leave Parkway Playhouse that August, but luckily for us the theatre gods smiled down on us because 11 years later we married. We still act and direct in our local community theatre. But it is our memories of Parkway Playhouse and the summer of 1979 that hold a very special place in our hearts.

Jon and Barb Young, Reidsville NC


From Top:
-A scene from Parkway Playhouse’s 1979 production of “You Can’t Take It With You” with star W.C. “Mutt” Burton and Jon Young, seated right as IRS Agent Henderson.
-Jon and Barb Young during a recent visit to the site where they met 37 years ago.
-Parkway Playhouse’s 1979 production of “Guys and Dolls” with Jon Young (4th from left, rear) and Barb (Meisel) Young (3rd from right).


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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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