The 39 Steps: Backstage

Behind the Stage smallAt Parkway Playhouse we encourage you to “Reimagine Yourself” and in The 39 Steps audiences are delighted to imagine along with the actors the many characters that light up the stage. But what does this show look like from the other side?  Come take a sneak peak at what makes the magic of this hilarious, fast-paced show.backstage small

It all begins with

#1 – an extremely active backstage crew,

sword eating
Mike Yow said in the author talk-back there are about two crew members per actor in order to make the show work.

#2 well organized props tables,

#3 a host of hats (and wigs),


#4 racks of costumes!

So, if you haven’t seen the show yet, don’t worry…

We’ll save you a seat on the train!

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Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm

Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets! All aboard!

Actor Spotlight: Strother Stingley

Honestly, though, Strother may need multiple spotlights for all the characters he plays in The 39 Steps!

revealPP:  The last time we saw you on the Parkway Playhouse stage was in Little Shop of Horrors… In that show you also played several different characters.  Do you play more in this one, or in that?

Strother: Twice as many as Little Shop, as a matter of fact. I love it. I could do more!
Mr Memory
PP:  Are you drawn to plays in which you play multiple characters?
Strother: Yes, but just as much as I am drawn to any good “character” work. I love me some eccentric roles!
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PP:  So, what have you been doing this past year?
Strother: Since Little Shop? Hmmm… I played the Wolf and MilkyWhite in HART’s Into The Woods, then immediately went into their 2 man production of The Mystery Of Irma Vep (in another multiple role role), a national tour with Immediate Theatre Project’s It’s A Wonderful Life: Live From Radio WVL in which I played 17 different characters, The Musical Of Musicals (The Musical) at 35 Below in Asheville, North Carolina Stage Company’s production of Jeeves In Bloom saw me as the explosive french chef Anatole, and most recently HART’s The Nerd as Axel.
       Now that The 39 Steps is up and running I am in rehearsals as Lazar Wolf in HART’s Fiddler On The Roof (a role I played at Parkway Playhouse in 2006!). All that while working a day job and moving my mother from one county to another, one house to another, and alllllll that that entails hahaha.
PP:  Never a dull moment with Strother at the wheel!
Leave the doldrums of your regular life with a trip to Parkway Playhouse to see Strother and the rest of this amazing cast.

This weekend:  Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm

Next weekend: Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm

Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Actor Spotlight: Myra McCoury

We all know and love Myra McCoury, which is why we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to talk with her a little more!dah dah DUMMMM

PP: You graduated from App State last spring… so catch us up… what’s been going on in your life since then?

Since last spring I have completed one year of graduated school at Appalachian in English Literature. Because I did an Accelerated Masters program, taking some graduate courses as an undergrad, I have already completed a year and a half of the grad program and will be graduating this coming December. After graduating I plan to teach, either theater, English, or both (fingers crossed) to high school students, ideally somewhere in Western NC.

PP: As a perennial Parkway Playhouse performer, you’ve developed some great female friendships over the years… How have you gotten along with the other women in the cast of The 39 Steps?  * smirk *

Myra:  I will admit, when I was first cast in the show, I thought it might be a bit weird being the only female in the show, but I was sold on the whole having the entire dressing room to myself idea (wink wink). Actually, in all honesty, though I have developed some strong friendships with my female co-stars of all ages over the years, I have loved the experience of holding my own as the only female character. Working with my incredibly talented male co-stars has really given me the opportunity to refine my uniqueness as a female character actor.shoeless

PP: What was appealing to you about this role and play?

Myra: This play was immediately appealing to me when I heard that I would be playing multiple characters, as character acting, accents, and all around over-the-topness is my forte. I also greatly enjoy the physical comedy embedded in the show. I have been pretend tripping and falling, purposefully running into walls, and sitting on whoopee cushions to get a laugh out folks for as long as my friends and family can recall. So, you might say physical comedy is just a part of my personality.

knockPP:  What is your favorite rehearsal moment?

Myra:  My favorite moment from rehearsal is actually a repeated thing that happened each night right on cue—that is, Bruce, our technical director, breaking his silence to crack a laugh at Jake’s line, “Alright. Alright. Albright.” Though this is a funny line, no one quite appreciated its humor in rehearsal like Bruce. I believe it’s his favorite moment of the show.


PP: This show is so funny, but do you have a favorite scene? 

Myra:  This question is a toughie because I really don’t think there is a dry scene in the show. My favorite that I’m in is Annabella Schmidt’s death scene. The over-the- top, convulsive physical comedy is reminiscent of some of the work of Madeline Kahn and Lucille Ball, two of my most admired female comedians. Like Kahn and Ball, I love the challenge of making physical comedy work. Largely, the success of a physical bit is dependent on how ridiculous you are willing to look, and for those who know me well and even those who don’t, looking foolish is possibly my greatest talent, and I greatly enjoy doing it.

Don’t miss Miss Myra this weekend! Show times are…

Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm

Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Actor Spotlight: Jake Deyton

Prepare to see the theatre transformed… a train, a car, an eerie shadowed street at night, a countryside bleeting in foggy sheep, an airplane chase… Film noir transformed into comedy.  The actors also transform themselves for Opening Night. So, let’s catch up with Jake Deyton before he becomes Mr. Hannay.

mapPP: Local audiences will remember you from your many performances at Mitchell High School. What acting have you done since graduating? 

Jake:  Yes! I have been enrolled at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts pursuing a BFA in acting. There I have been in a few plays and short films. Last summer I was in Mitchell County Community Theatre’s production of Catch Me if You Can.


PP:  This is your first time on the Parkway Playhouse stage, isn’t it?  How does it feel to follow in your little brother’s footsteps?

It is! And yes, my 5 year old brother, Ben, made his Parkway debut earlier this year in The Jungle Book, KIDS. I think he warmed the production team up for me. Everyone here seemed to enjoy working with him!

handcuffedPP:  Do you have a favorite scene in this show? Why is it your favorite?

Jake: There’s a scene where Myra and I have to get over a fence while attached by a set of handcuffs. It’s pretty hilarious. At one point Myra’s face hits my backside several times. During the rehearsal process I said something about having a very bony butt and before I could finish speaking Myra said, “Yes, I know!”

mr hannay

What’s that? You don’t have your ticket yet? We know how to solve that problem in a lot fewer than 39 Steps.

Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

A big thank you from all of us here to those who are bringing the hors d’oeuvres for Saturday Night’s Opening Night Party after the show.  Yet another reason to visit Parkway Playhouse!

Actor Spotlight: Mike Yow

ss & my
Mike Yow, right, is spotted lurking about a lamp post. Unless he spotted you first.

Mike Yow returns to the Parkway Stage!

PP: So, what have you been up to since we’ve seen you last (in Little Shop of Horrors)?
Mike: More theatre, of course, as well as some occasional film and television work (minor stuff, mostly). I’ve since been cast in a popular web-series shot on location in Asheville (its called When Fact Met Fiction), and just after ‘Little Shop’ I’ve appeared in Into The Woods at HART Theatre, All My Sons (also at HART), Snowbound (at Asheville Community Theatre), and just recently in Peter & The Starcatcher in a collaboration between ACT and UNCA. Oh, and moving – to new house in East Asheville!


PP: Nice!  Last summer you were in a musical here and this summer, a straight play… Do you have a preference?


Mike:  Also the tough question, this one. Well, to shoot relatively straight, my answer used to be “straight plays!” without the slightest quiver of a doubt, but over the past several years, I’ve developed quite a love (and maybe even some general skill) for musicals. So, I’d have to say, they’re both equally awesome. (Yeah, I know. It’s like a tie in football – nobody’s happy with the outcome.)


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PP: We’re so excited to have you back for The 39 Steps!  What do you like about acting at Parkway Playhouse?


Mike: I love the summer-stock feel to the theatre, which is a historical landmark in and of itself. I also feel that Parkway Playhouse board and artistic directors tend to make excellent choices of plays and musicals for their seasons. Furthermore, as an actor and general performer, I’m often given a goodly amount of artistic freedom when making character choices, and they’re generally quite open to my ideas and input as a collaborator.


PP: Lots of quick-changes in this show–do you have a favorite costume piece?


Mike:  I’d imagine the kilt will be the most comfortable (and I still have great legs too!).
If you want to see Mike in the kilt, you’ll just have to come see the show!


PP: While there are many “characters” in this show, it’s actually a small cast. What do you like about working with a small cast?


Mike:  Though I’ve certainly had my share of work with large casts, I actually prefer small to medium sized casts. This gives a better chance of bonding and integrating with each other, not only on-stage but off, which yields more trust and chemistry on-stage, things that are actually difficult to fake – even with brilliant actors – if it isn’t truly there in the first place. Also, less chance that someone’s in the dressing room bathrooms at intermission.


PP: We’re really looking forward to opening weekend!

If you’re lucky enough to be able to come to opening night (Saturday, June 10 at 7:30 pm), join us for the after-show reception (party). The 39 Steps runs three weekends, closing on June 24.

Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

From the Director: The 39 Steps

When I first saw The 39 Steps in London in 2007 I went to the show with no expectations. I was not familiar with the pivotal John Buchan novel that created the spy-thriller genre and I had not seen the Hitchcock film that made it famous. I went to theatre like many of you will, to be entertained. What transpired for me that evening was something all theatre practitioners long for, I was revived.

london 2007

After the long hours, I had spent that day deciphering Shakespeare and teaching drama to suburban British teens, I was awakened to everything I loved about theatre. The thrill of seeing a train created with simple crates, the ability to become a new character (or many characters) by simply donning a hat, the hilarity of physical comedy, and the ability to escape for just one night and breathe in the magic of theatre. I hope that many of you will share in my experience; whether you are here with no expectations or great ones, I hope you allow yourself to be swept away in the chaos and the comedy of  The 39 Steps.

Chelsea as Essie in last summer’s performance of  You Can’t Take It With You

Chelsea Wilson Thayer holds a B.S. in Theatre Education from Appalachian State University and a Masters’ Degree in Educational Theatre from New York University. She has worked with theatre practitioners at The Globe and Unicorn Children’s Theatre in London and Samuel Beckett Theatre in Ireland. She holds her NC teaching license in K-12 Theatre Arts and has taught students of all ages in New York, Texas, and North Carolina. She recently directed Into the Woods Jr. at Parkway Playhouse this Spring. Thayer is excited to be directing grown-ups for a change but fears she has forgotten how to talk to “big people” after chasing her own three young children around. Chelsea would like to thank her husband, Bryan, her parents, Betty and John, and her children, Blake, Beckett, and Brandt, for supporting her passion for theatre!


Call 828.682.4285 or CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Brush up on your Hitchcock

Pro Tip: Watch a few Hitchcock films this weekend to get ready for the opening of The 39 Steps on June 10.  Why? For the laughs.


We know that sounds counter-intuitive, but the play The 39 Steps is a comedy which references several Hitchcock films and we know you love getting the inside joke.  Besides, Hitchcock is classic film noir worth the time and appreciation.

So, which films to watch?

“The Hitchcockian films I’d most recommend to the get the ‘in jokes’ of The 39 Steps stage-play is, of course, The 39 Steps film first and foremost. After that, North By Northwest and probably Strangers On A Train,” says Mike Yow, one of the four cast members in Parkway Playhouse’s upcoming performance.

The play also references: Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

“My favorite Hitchcock films are The 39 Steps (appropriate enough) and The Rear Window,” he adds. “The former has just about all your cool film noir-ish tropes in it, and the latter, well, the latter is Jimmy Stewart (one of my favorite actors of all time).”

So, hit your local (Flick) video store, library,…. or take advantage of some country’s copyright expiration… and make yourself a bowl of popcorn. (Don’t forget, we’ll make that popcorn for you when you come to the theatre!)

We look forward to hearing you laugh next weekend when The 39 Steps opens on June 10.  Don’t keep yourself in suspense… get your tickets by calling 828.682.4284 or by purchasing them online.

39 Steps Full Cast web
How can you not laugh just looking at this cast!?!   Left to right: Strother Stingley, Myra McCoury, Jake Deyton, and Mike Yow

It may seem like this is a “weekend off” at Parkway Playhouse, but that would be a misconception. Reading is Alive performs Frog and Toad on Saturday (11:30 am) at the Orchard at Altapass, the cast and crew of The 39 Steps launches themselves into tech week, and Bonnie & Clyde (our first musical of the summer) is already rehearsing!

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