Rehearsal Tips

At Parkway Playhouse, we’re kicking off rehearsals for our first production of the season this month! Whether you’re joining us as a cast member this season, or are interested in giving theatre a go in the future, we’ve got a few rehearsal tips to keep in mind to start your rehearsal process off on the right foot. 


Before coming to your first rehearsal, be sure you’ve read your script and have a general familiarity with its themes and tone, and with your character. 


Leave your phone in your bag so you can focus on rehearsal. 


Be sure to bring a pencil, a highlighter, water, and a snack. 


Your director will be giving you notes and blocking during the rehearsal process that you’ll want to write down for reference. 


Your director and stage manager will be giving you directions throughout the process. Be sure to listen to what they’re saying. 


When others are working, be respectful of them and quietly wait until it’s your turn to speak. 


Everyone in the rehearsal room is collaborating to create the best production possible, don’t let your ego stand in the way of progress. 


Everyone wants to work with the best group of humans during a rehearsal process. Make sure you’re actively contributing to a good rehearsal environment by being friendly and open to everyone. 


Theatre is magic, enjoy the process of being involved in a production! 

Parkway Playhouse kicks off our 76th season in June! Find out more about our season here:


Bruce Chuvala Receives Recognition

If you’ve been involved at Parkway Playhouse in the past 30 years, you’ve likely had the opportunity to work with Bruce Chuvala, Parkway Playhouse’s long-time Technical Director. In December 2022, Bruce received recognition from The Playhouse for his decades of dedication and we’ve formally named our scene shop after him.

Bruce’s theatrical career began after he had already lived many lives. He received an economics degree from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, served as an aviation cadet in the Air Force, was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, became a husband and then a father, a retiree, and a cake decorator at his wife’s bakery on East Main Street. He landed in the theater world in 1991 and he’s become such a pivotal figure in our community since.

“I always hope that the sets I design and build fit in with the action on the stage and help the audience leave the theater feeling better than when they came.”

In the past three decades, Bruce has worked on the technical aspects of hundreds of shows for Parkway Playhouse, Mountain Heritage High School, Mitchell High School, and The Burnsville Little Theatre; and served as the Technical Director at Parkway Playhouse for many years. “I always hope that the sets I design and build fit in with the action on the stage and help the audience leave the theater feeling better than when they came.”, says Bruce.

While there isn’t much at Parkway Playhouse Bruce hasn’t had a hand in, Bruce’s joy is found in the spotlight. Bruce has had the distinction of playing himself on stage, in our production of Spirited Recollections: A Personal History of Burnsville. He has also appeared in countless productions as English butlers, police officers, train conductors, and even as Ebeneezer Scrooge in many productions of A Christmas Carol. “I like taking the thoughts of a director and giving them three-dimensional form on stage,” Bruce says about his work on and off stage.

“I love that old theater. It is a warm and comfortable place. It welcomes you with open arms and makes you feel at home.” He says. Bruce has impacted everyone who has been a part of Parkway Playhouse over the past few decades. Bruce has meticulously and lovingly cared for every nook, cranny, floorboard, prop room shelf, and curtain in the theater. It is difficult to imagine the theater being a workable facility for all these years without Bruce’s efforts.

“Bruce is as much an institution at Parkway as the building itself. I grew up in the theater with him as a mentor, and a wealth of information, and I’m blessed to now call him a friend.”

Our Staff, Board, and Community are grateful for Bruce Chuvala and are thankful for his contributions over the years. “Bruce is as much an institution at Parkway as the building itself. I grew up in the theater with him as a mentor, and a wealth of information, and I’m blessed to now call him a friend.” Says Jenny Martin, Parkway’s Director of Education and Outreach who has known Bruce for almost as long as he’s been a part of the Parkway family.

Have you worked with Bruce over the years? We’d love for you to share your stories with us! Please email if you’re interested in sharing!

Tips for Audition Season

Ahhhh Audition Season. A time of year that can be full of anxiety, but also optimism for actors, directors, and theatre companies alike as they plan for what the new year will have in store for them. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer interested in joining a theatre community this season, we’ve got the audition tips to make the auditioning process as stress-free as possible 

#1 DIRECTORS WANT TO CAST YOU. Directors need actors for their shows and they would be thrilled to have you on their team. Head into your audition remembering that directors are on your side! 

#2 ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. Ask for what you need. If there’s a chair in the room and you’d like to use it, ask for it. If you need to hear your starting note, ask for it. 

#3 BREATHE. Take a minute to regroup before you begin and remember, if you mess up, it’s okay to ask to start over. Everyone in the room is rooting for you to succeed. 

#4 BE AWARE OF THE SPACE. Stand with confidence and project your voice to an appropriate level for the room. Don’t use the people behind the table as your focal point. Deliver your monologue or song just over the heads of the directors, not directly to them. And never deliver your monologue or song to an invisible person in an empty chair. 

#5 MAKE CHOICES. Especially when given sides to read. Don’t worry about making the “right” choices, just make a choice. When you’re hired, the director will guide you toward the right choices. In auditions, directors just want to see that you’re capable of making bold choices. 

#6 TAKE A NOTE. If you’re given feedback or are asked to try something different in auditions, take the note. The director is trying to see how well you incorporate changes and take direction and decide if you’re going to be the right fit for their rehearsal process. 

#7 REHEARSE. That’s right, you should rehearse your audition before you even step in the room. Often, sides are available prior to auditions to look over as well. Be sure to reach out to the theatre or the director and ask! 

#8 DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. Directors may cut you off early because they loved you and don’t need to see more, or they may ask you for more because they’re trying to figure out where to place you in their cast. Don’t assume the worst. 

#9 BRING A FRIEND. Theatres are always excited to see new faces, and it’s always fun to share the experience of being in the same season as a friend. Plus, having a friend at auditions can help ease your nerves. 

#10 CONGRATULATE YOURSELF. When the audition is over, leave it there. You accomplished so much by even showing up in the room! 

Parkway Playhouse’s 76th season auditions will take place at The Mountain Heritage Center (Across from Parkway Playhouse) on January 21-22, 2023! Time slots are available for experienced and less experienced auditioners. Find out more here:

A Place for Everyone: Volunteer at Parkway Playhouse!

We’ve opened our sign-up sheet for volunteers! As a volunteer at Parkway Playhouse, you’ll receive a free complimentary ticket for every 3 hours of volunteer work, you’ll have the chance to meet new people, and be involved with our Burnsville community!

At Parkway Playhouse, there’s a place for everyone. We reached out to two of our volunteers from previous years who have helped with everything from set design, costuming, ushering, and selling concessions.

Alesa Bryant

When I was a little girl, we had these 200-year-old boxwoods between the house and the barn. There were about fifteen of them, and the branches had grown into each other so it looked like one enormous bush. At one point near the ground, the branches did not quite come together, making a “door.” Beneath these boxwoods was an open space the size of a small house complete with a roof so tall an adult could stand in every “room” and so dense you could stay under them even in the rain.

These boxwoods were my stage. I had weddings under them and shook the branches, so dried boxwood leaves would sprinkle down like rice onto the bride and groom. I played house under them using the lay of lower branches to fashion furniture. My living room I had a couch and two chairs designed simply from the gnarls of the trunks. I spent more time creating the scenarios under the boxwoods than playing in them. They were my stage and today the stage is my boxwoods.

When I volunteer, I am exactly where I was as a little girl. I can know what I want the scenario to be and with the magic of stage lighting, fog machines, music, set pieces, etc. I can create anything I want. Anyone can do this; it’s not me. The stage is a canvas for creativity and imagination that anyone can manipulate.

I started volunteering at Parkway without really knowing I was volunteering. I was so absorbed in the environment of the theatre that I just wanted to stay there and do anything I could to help. Even though I started theatre as a junior in high school and taught it for thirty years, volunteering at Parkway has been the most fun and rewarding. I love the creative freedom offered by, for example, working on the set of Dark of the Moon. The script calls for seven indoor settings, all the base of a mountain. Creating a mountain, with trees and rocks and moss and other mountain stuff, that merges into homes and stores and churches, was a delightful challenge.

Now here is the best part of volunteering. Theatre people see the world through different lenses. Sometimes that is hard. But when you volunteer in theatre, you are placing yourself in an environment of kindred spirits, people who understand and appreciate your passion and support your work. Little did I know that, at seventeen years old, when I asked my The Crucible director if I could help build the set, that my life would be changed.

“Even though I started theatre as a junior in high school and taught it for thirty years, volunteering at Parkway has been the most fun and rewarding.”

Kimberly Garland

My husband, Randall, and I began volunteering as ushers about 2009. We were invited by a friend, who happened to be a Parkway Playhouse board member, to see a play. We enjoyed the play very much but thought attending plays often would be too much of a luxury for our budget. 

Our friend suggested that we become ushers so that we could help out the Parkway Playhouse and enjoy watching the wonderful plays. We tried it the next season and loved it. Then our sons, Gabe and Caleb, became involved in Parkway Playhouse Junior and that gave us even more of a reason to support the Playhouse.

About a year after we began ushering, Randall was convinced by Gabe to give acting a try. He and Gabe both ended up with parts in A Christmas Carol and they were both bitten by the acting bug and have been in several plays, both together and separately since. I, on the other hand, prefer to stay on the audience side of the curtain.

Our favorite part of ushering, aside from enjoying the plays, is the amazing people from our community is that we get to meet and work with – artists, business owners, retirees, and natives. Joking around in the concession stand as we make popcorn and serve drinks in close quarters makes for some fun camaraderie and great memories.

There are several “jobs” available during each performance – checking tickets and handing out playbills, seating people, making popcorn and selling concessions, or serving beer and wine. Even though concessions is my favorite job and serving beer and wine is Randall’s, we both enjoy changing jobs for the variety.

As soon as the play begins, we get to sit in the back row with our official “ushering flashlights”  ready to help people as needed and enjoy the show! We usually schedule ourselves to work on a different evening so that one of us can stay home with our youngest. Most of the time we just choose to usher for one performance of each play, but if it’s a play we really enjoy, or that one of our sons is in, we make ourselves available for more performances. I think I saw every mainstage performance of Seussical and Peter Pan and of course almost all of the junior plays.

So many plays that we have enjoyed over our eleven years of ushering have been memorable, but I think my favorite has been Bonnie and Clyde, which Randall and Gabe were both in.  Randall’s favorite plays are the ones he has had a part in – he especially loved The Ballad of Frankie Silver.

If you love quality, live performances of world-class plays but think attending them is a luxury, consider ushering. You will be helping out The Parkway Playhouse, making some good friends and having a great time, all while enjoying a little hometown culture.

“Our favorite part of ushering, aside from enjoying the plays, is the amazing people from our community is that we get to meet and work with – artists, business owners, retirees, and natives.”

Join the Parkway Playhouse Family

Sign up here: For questions and more information, please email Jenny Martin at

How Parkway Playhouse Supports the Mental Wellbeing of Students

According to the CDC, in 2018-2019 15.1% of teens had a major depressive episode. 36.7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, 18.8% of teens seriously considered attempting suicide, and 8.9% had a substance abuse disorder. 

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, these numbers have continued to rise and we’re now seeing the highest numbers in decades. Teens with mental health conditions are vulnerable to future social exclusion, discrimination, educational difficulties, risk-taking behaviors, and poor physical health throughout adulthood. 

March 2nd is World Teen Mental Wellness Day. We’re sharing ways Parkway Playhouse supports the mental well-being of our students and how classes at Parkway Playhouse give teens an outlet to make mental health a priority. 

Creating a Mental Escape

Theatre classes at Parkway Playhouse give students the opportunity to escape from themselves, the real world, COVID, school, and home. Classes allow them to be someone else for a while and an opportunity to empathize with that character, giving teens the chance to experience new things and grow as individuals. 

In a study conducted by Way Ahead that polled 1,200 people, 89% reported that participating in the drama program had a positive impact on their self-confidence and 94% of respondents said it had a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing. 52% of people indicated that being involved with the theatre program had a positive or positive impact on their anxiety levels.


By listening to our students, we’re able to craft courses that benefit our students in the ways they need to be supported and challenged. Giving their voices and collaborative thoughts space to come to life encourages them to think critically and grow as students, performers, and future industry professionals. 

Listening to students is crucial to ensure that their load never gets to be too much as they balance theatre with school or other activities. Classes at Parkway Playhouse give students a safe space where they can forget about what’s happening outside of class while having trusted adults and friends they can confide in if needed. 

Over a 10th of the world’s population is made up of teens just a handful of years away from being adults. Their voices matter and listening is one of the few ways Parkway Playhouse checks in with our teens’ needs. 


When speaking to our current students about ways they felt supported in our classes, they overwhelmingly mentioned community. Many of them said that theatre was like finding an instant friend group where they were accepted just for showing up as their authentic selves.

Parkway Playhouse offers a wide variety of courses with different focuses and age groups so that no matter what their interests are, there’s something for everyone. Fostering a sense of mental wellbeing in our local Burnsville community is of utmost importance to all of us at Parkway. When our teens feel safe, healthy and empowered they can take those feelings and lessons out into our community as students in our schools, employees at local businesses, and into their personal lives.

To participate in Parkway Playhouse’s summer camp, or the apprentice program, click here: 

Want to join our discussion about supporting teen mental health in our community? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Looking for more resources? Click here to access The Youth Alliance’s list of national hotlines that provide anonymous, confidential information to callers.

Actor Spotlight: Michelle Geouge

Today we are speaking with Michelle Geouge, who will be playing Mrs. Hudson in our upcoming virtual production of A Sherlock Holmes Radio Mystery.

Michelle Geouge

PPH: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Michelle: Hello, my name is Michelle Geouge.  I have taught school in Yancey County for 22 years. My first encounter with Parkway Playhouse was watching my grandson participate in several playhouse productions.  

PPH: What other acting experience do you have? Are there any previous roles that stand out?

Michelle: The role of Mrs. Hudson is my very first acting role.  I have quickly learned that a lot more goes into acting than memorizing lines! It is a lot of work! But I have enjoyed the experience very much.  I hope it won’t be my last.

PPH: What inspired you to take a chance and audition for this show?

Michelle: I was always so impressed with the quality of the acting and directing within our community.  I always left a performance feeling like, “I want to do that!”  

A Sherlock Holmes Radio Mystery will be streamed virtually on April 24th, at 7:30pm for ONE NIGHT ONLY! To purchase tickets, please click here.

Actor Spotlight: William Tyler Ezzell

Today we are speaking with William Tyler Ezzell, who will be playing Sherlock Holmes in our upcoming virtual production of A Sherlock Holmes Radio Mystery.

William Tyler Ezzell

PPH: Were you familiar with Sherlock Holmes, or any of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works before this process? 

William: Yes, in fact, when I was in grade school I dressed up as him for a literature parade held by the local library. I’m also fascinated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life outside of literature as sort of a professional skeptic and his strange friendship with Harry Houdini.

PPH: Are you having fun with accents? Any tongue twisters in there for you? 

William: I love accents! The challenge of doing them well & the mental acrobatics they sometimes require can be a lot of fun!

PPH: What has been your favorite moment during rehearsal

William:  I don’t know if I had a favorite but there were definitely a lot of very hilarious moments. We were very fortunate to have a very funny group of people working on this. 

PPH: Are you acting with any old pals (or new acquaintances)? How has that been?

William: Yes! I’ve been in shows with Kristen Livengood (Amélie & The Three Little Pigs) and Lara Hollaway (Avenue Q & MIracle in Bedford Falls) and it was so wonderful after such a challenging year to get to work with some beloved familiar faces! It was also a lot of fun to get to know Daniel, Chris, Michelle and of course Jenny as we worked together.

PPH: Tell us a little bit about your character? What about your character is the least like you? 

William: He’s a precocious know-it-all with terrific style and a penchant for accents & costume. How could he be less like me? I mean really!

A Sherlock Holmes Radio Mystery will be streamed virtually on April 24th, at 7:30pm for ONE NIGHT ONLY! To purchase tickets, please click here.