Props, Costumes, and Lights… Oh My! A Closer Look Into the Technical Aspects of Oliver!

Our most recent production, Oliver, is currently running. While you may see a finished set, wonderful costumes, and clever props, what you do not see is the hours of planning and work behind the scenes to make this production the best it can be. The scenic shop staff, lighting designers, costumes designers, and sound designers have all put in numerous hours working on the various elements of the production. Our interns and apprentices have also spent a large amount of time making sure everything is ready and in working order for the show. Some of the team involved recently answered some question about the process!


Megan Townsend and Brittany Wise are two of our college interns who have worked diligently on props and other technical aspects in Oliver. Megan is the assistant stage manager, and Brittany is props master.

-What has been your previous experience with prop designing?

Brittany: I’m actually pretty new to prop design. I’ve collected props for scenes, but doing Oliver is the first time it’s been this extensive. -What was your favorite prop you had to make for Oliver?

Megan: My favorite prop to make for Oliver was the mace. We took something as simple as a cup and turned it into a golden mace. We added jewels to make it seem as regal as possible. It was really interesting how it all came together. Brittany: I really enjoyed making Bumble’s staff and re-painting Fagin’s treasure chest.

-What was the hardest obstacle you came across during this process?

Megan: Oliver is a very big show, with a very large cast. Therefore, there is a lot going on backstage. We have designated tables that are labeled so the actors know where everything goes. It was a little difficult in the beginning to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, but now the actors and crew are in a routine, so it makes it a lot easier for everyone.

Brittany: One of the most difficult part of the process I would say was gathering the larger props, because there were a couple of times when we needed to exchange some of them for different ones.

-What does being the prop master mean? What is involved with that position?

Brittany: Being the Prop Master means that I am in charge of making sure all of the actors’ props are where they are supposed to be, and that they are in good condition. If something breaks or needs mending, it is my responsibility to fix it or make sure that it gets fixed. Between shows, I make sure that all of the props on the prop table are back in their particular places. Sometimes I have to hunt down the props because they don’t get put back in their proper places, but overall, I’ve really enjoyed being the prop master!

Photo by Cassie Floan


Dakota Whitehead is the costume designer for Oliver.

 -You have had a lot of experience with costumes, what is your favorite thing about working on and designing costumes for shows?

Dakota: My favorite part of designing any show will always be the conceptualizing phase. It’s what separates designers from stylists. For this show specifically I have three completely filled notebooks full of design concepts, character specific ideas, and costume sketches.

-What was your favorite piece you worked on for Oliver?

Dakota: My absolute favorite piece in this show is by far Myra’s(Nancy) red gown. My entire design concept for the costumes in this show is that the audience is seeing the characters through Oliver’s eyes, and naturally a child wouldn’t look at this character and see her as a low class prostitute, he would see her simply as a beautiful woman. So, it took a lot of planning and alterations for her to look like like a lady of the night and a child’s idea of a beauty queen. Another aspect of her design that I adore is her bruising: from upstage it just looks like she’s just dirty like the children, but the further downstage she comes the more the audience realizes she’s covered in bruises from her abusive boyfriend.

Photo by Meandering Photography

-What was the biggest challenge you had designing and gathering costumes for over 40 cast members?

Dakota: The biggest challenge was finding time to make all of the alterations. Every single costume piece needed something done to it, and most of the actors have up to four different costumes. Thankfully Lindsey Edwards, my assistant designer, was more than up for handling this insane task with me. We also had a bit of help from a couple of the interns this season, and even though they had little to no experience sewing they were quick learners! -You were IN the production as well; how was that? Dakota: It was great! A lot of the shows I’ve designed I’ve been in as well, and honestly, it can get a bit stressful but what job doesn’t.


Abby Auman served as the lighting designer for the show.

 -What was the show that really got you into lighting design?

Abby: I don’t think there was a show that got me into lighting design, as such. I stumbled into it in high school, and just fell in love with it. The great thing about lighting is that on the one hand you are making beautiful visual art that is definitely an expression of all the emotion, imagination, and personality that you have poured into it, but on the other you get to create all of that with with sort of concrete tools like logic and technology and programming. It satisfies all facets of your mind. It’s also very physical, with all the climbing and carrying and building you end up doing, and that is really satisfactory too.

-What has been your favorite show to design? Your favorite lighting effect?

Abby: I’ve done a lot of shows and I’m constantly doing more, so it would be pretty hard to pick any one favorite. On the whole, the shows I have enjoyed most have been fantastical or abstract, so I was able to just go really crazy with any sort of design I could imagine. I’ve done a few shows with magical characters, and I really enjoyed making it look like they were controlling the light in the room. The actors, board operators, and I would time it out in such a way that the character would move their hands and the lights would move or change in such a way that it looked like they were manipulating the atoms of the air or something like that. I like when I get to create lighting that is interactive that way.

Photo by Cassie Floan

-You are the technical director at Magnetic Theatre; talk about some of your other roles you have done in terms of designing and operating. Is lighting your favorite?

Abby: I have two main jobs as a technical director. The first is to oversee transitions between shows, so I’m usually shepherding one show out and the next one in. I like doing that, because it’s like putting puzzle pieces together. You’re thinking: “Ok, when is this show loading out, what set pieces can stay for the next show, what needs to go, what needs to be built for the show coming in, who can build it,” etc. etc. It’s a lot of problem solving and making sure to ask the questions that haven’t occurred to anybody yet. My other responsibility is just troubleshooting. Whatever goes wrong, I fix or find a way around. I also end up filling in any gaps that come up, so I’ve ended up building sets, doing sound design, projections and videos, all sorts of things. I love that part of the job, too. But yes, lighting design is my favorite.

Be sure to come see the closing weekend of Oliver so you can see all of these talented folk’s hard work.

Currently Playing

oliver june 30 through july 14

Coming Soon

madagascar jr july 20 and 21



What’s Happening…

july-calendar-e1531229206872.jpgThere are so many exciting things happening at Parkway Playhouse… just check out the calendar!

goldilocks promo photo web

Wednesday, July 11 — Reading Is Alive — 1 pm at the Avery County Library 

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a musical for young audiences is FREE and includes a FREE book and FREE craft activity.  Kids also may get a Reading Is Alive 2018 t-shirt!

Thursday, July 12 — Reading Is Alive — 1 pm at the Spruce Pine Public Library

oliver skinny

Friday, July 13 — Oliver! — 7:30 pm

Read a review in the Mountain XPress
Purchase tickets online HERE

Saturday, July 14 — Oliver! — 7:30 pm (FINAL SHOW)


Friday, July 21 — Madagascar, Jr. Summer Camp Performance — 6 pm

Come see what these 50 kids have learned in two short weeks! Tickets available at the door. ($11 Adult – $9 Member – $5.50 Student)

Saturday, July 22 — Madagascar, Jr. Summer Camp Performance — 6 pm

godspell cast
The cast of Godspell is currently hard at work rehearsing!

Saturday, July 28 — GODSPELL — 7:30 pm — OPENING NIGHT

Join us on opening night and you get to attend the after-show reception where you can mingle with other theatre-goers and meet the cast… plus have some complimentary munchies.

Purchase tickets HERE or by calling the box office at 828.682.4285

Sunday, July 29 — GODSPELL — 3 pm — Post Show Q&A

After our Sunday shows, several members of the cast and creative team return to the stage after the performance where they answer a few questions and give an insider’s perspective to the musical and the rehearsal process.

** If your church group would like to reserve a block of seats (at a slight discount) be sure to arrange that early. (Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount off full-priced tickets.)

Purchase tickets HERE or by calling the box office at 828.682.4285

miscast graphic 4

Tuesday, July 31 — Miscast Cabaret — NEW — 7:30 pm

Every performer knows the frustration of falling in love with a beautiful song but knowing he or she will never get to sing it in a show, because they wouldn’t be cast (because of gender, age, physical appearance) in that role.  MISCAST CABARET solves that problem by having performers from our 2018 season sing the beloved songs they know they’d never get a chance to otherwise!

Join us for this night of musical fun! There are already 10 acts on the schedule (including Briar Boggs, Hunter Taylor, Brittany Wise, Bobby Guenther, Rachel Haimowitz, and Maximillian Koger.) There aren’t tickets to purchase in advance, we simply suggest a donation at the door.

Friday, August 3 — GODSPELL — 7:30pm

** If your church group would like to reserve a block of seats (at a slight discount) be sure to arrange that early. (Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount off full-priced tickets.)

Purchase tickets HERE or by calling the box office at 828.682.4285

Saturday, August 4 — Reading Is Alive — 10 am at the Mount Mitchell Craft Fair

This is the final show of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so if you haven’t seen it yet this summer, here’s your chance. Plus, the Mount Mitchell Craft Fair is fun for the whole family… and there will be plenty of yummy lunch choices after the show!

Saturday, August 4 — GODSPELL — 7:30pm

Purchase tickets HERE or by calling the box office at 828.682.4285

Sunday, August 5 — GODSPELL — 3:00pm

After our Sunday shows, several members of the cast and creative team return to the stage after the performance where they answer a few questions and give an insider’s perspective to the musical and the rehearsal process.

Purchase tickets HERE or by calling the box office at 828.682.4285


Follow us on Facebook and sign up for our e-newsletter (scroll to the bottom of the homepage) to be reminded of upcoming events and we’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Actor Spotlight: Daniel Moore

Daniel also finds it hard to believe there are only two more performances of Boeing Boeing! You’ll not want to miss the shenanigans that get him to this overwrought state.  

boeing danielPP: Which scene did you have the most difficult time learning to keep a straight face?

Daniel:  Early on in the rehearsal process it was quite difficult to keep a straight face about 90% of the time.  Now, the only part that gives me trouble is the last few lines of the show.  You’ll understand why once you’ve seen the show.

boeing floorPP: How has having two weekends under your belt helped the performance come together?

Daniel:  Well, with a show like this one it’s just joke after joke.  There is no way to know how or when the audience will respond, so having them there is like adding that final ingredient.

Boeing Daniel and Samantha web

PP: How have audiences reacted in unexpected ways? Did they think something was funny that you weren’t expecting?

Daniel:  Yes, absolutely.  You can always guarantee, when you open a new show, that audiences will react in ways you never could’ve imagined.  So far, everyone seems to leave with a smile on their face.

You’ve only got two more chances to be one of those people who leaves the show smiling!  Don’t miss your chance.

To purchase tickets, click HERE or call (828) 682-4285
boeing boeing june 2 through 16
Only one more weekend!
Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30pm

Actor Spotlight: Morgan Miller

Don’t let the calm headshot photo fool you, Morgan Miller blasts onto the Parkway Playhouse stage with the full range of wild emotions in this production of Boeing Boeing.


PP: In which scene did you have the most difficult time learning to keep a straight face?

Morgan: It’s not necessarily so much one scene as it has been very hard to keep a straight face just running through all these scenes as they’ve developed more and more over time because they just kept getting funnier!

boeing morgan rage

PP: Are you having fun with accents? 

Morgan: Having an accent is very fun – while very challenging of course – but anytime I have to get “worked up” or a little “angry” I tend to speak rather quickly, which doesn’t work too well for the audience because they can’t understand a single word I’m saying!  So I just have to be very cautious of that when running through the show!

PP: What has been your favorite part of rehearsal?

Morgan: So many things have been wonderful about this entire process but just getting to know everyone and going through the rehearsals and watching each one get better and funnier because we would find more and more to play with each time and that has been so fun to watch!  Everyone is so incredibly welcoming and sweet and I have loved each and every second in this process with them!

boeing morgan sweet

PP: This is your first show at Parkway Playhouse.  Will you tell us a little about yourself?

Morgan: I’m originally from Charlotte but moved to Cullowhee (NC) three years ago to start going to school at WCU.  I am an upcoming senior in the musical theatre department.  Some other roles and shows I’ve been lucky enough to be apart of are, Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical, Catherine in Pippin, The Witch in Into The Woods and most recently Jeannie in Hair!  I have a few little jobs here and there to help support me through school but as of right now, the main focus is on school.

To purchase tickets, click HERE or call (828) 682-4285
boeing boeing june 2 through 16
Only two more weekends!
Friday, June 8 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 9 at 7:30pm
Sunday, June 10 at 3pm (with post-show cast Q&A)
Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30pm

Reading is ALIVE…

Reading Is Alive is an exciting outreach program created by Parkway Playhouse in collaboration with Penland School of Crafts, and the Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Library System.

goldilocks promo photoBased on the theme, “Build a Better World,” professional actors will perform for children in Yancey, Avery, and Mitchell. This year we will be performing “Goldilocks and the Three Bears“, the musical based on the delightful children’s story written by Anthony Drewe.

The musical follows Goldilocks into the forest, where she ventures into a seemingly uninhabited house. In the process of making herself at home, she turns the place into a gigantic mess! Little does she know that the house belongs to a family of three bears… who will not be too pleased to witness her handiwork.

And, as a bonus, children who attend a Reading is ALIVE performance will receive a “Reading is Alive” book, while supplies last! This year we will be handing out How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

After each performance, Penland School of Crafts will be hosting an arts and crafts booth. And, be sure to stop by the Bookmobile for a free Reading is ALIVE t-shirt, while supplies last!

We are happy to once again partner with Penland School of Crafts and AMY Regional Library  (and the BOOKMOBILE!) on this outreach project.  We are also pleased to have received a grant from Duke Energy Foundation to help us continue to bring these free programs to the children in our counties!  Many thanks to all those involved!


About the Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The foundation’s education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture.

Duke Energy employees and retirees actively contribute to their communities as volunteers and leaders at a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. Duke Energy is committed to building on its legacy of community service. For more information, visit

Duke Energy is a Fortune 125 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at


Actor Spotlight: Myra McCoury

It’s been a non-stop summer for Myra McCoury at Parkway Playhouse! The giant bean-bag may have been a set-design gift just for her…

boeing bean bag web

PP:  You just got done with Blithe Spirit and now you’re in Boeing Boeing  and  you’re in Oliver!, tooright?  Do you have a cot set up in the shop?

Myra: Doing three shows back to back has, thus far, been a challenge and a blessing. I’m having the opportunity to play three fabulous and totally different roles while working with so many talented artists. I love the mental and physical exercise of switching between head spaces and accents for these different characters, a switch that sometimes must occur with little time in between when I have both a rehearsal for one show and performance for another on the same day.

PP: Are you acting with any old pals new acquaintances? How has that been?

Myra:  Daniel and I have worked together on multiple shows in the past, most recently, Blithe Spirit, in which we played husband and wife. What I love most about working with Daniel is his energy and commitment to every moment in the show, spoken and unspoken. He probably loses at least five pounds every show in sweat. I admire that, though. His energy is contagious and brings out the best in me when I’m on stage with him.

boeing happily ever after web.jpg

I’m also enjoying every moment working with other actors for the first time. While I’ve been costumed by both Samantha LeBrocq and Christine Caldemeyer in others shows before, I’ve never had the pleasure of sharing the stage with either of them. This is also the first time I’ve worked with the comedic force that is Morgan Miller and the incredibly talented Allen Law. I have to say that, despite this being the first time I’ve worked with many of these folks, this is most definitely one of my favorite casts.

PP:  What is you favorite prop?

Myra:  In one of my opening monologues about the miserable weather my character has just flown through, Daniel’s character hands me a martini (water in a martini glass) that I incorporate into the storytelling. Let’s just say that I get to have a total Joanne from Company moment.  (See image below for reference.)


You’ll have to come see Myra’s version… and maybe, someday, in our wildest-dream-come-true, we can get Patti Lupone to come to Parkway Playhouse and co-star with her biggest fan — Myra McCoury.

To purchase tickets, click HERE or call (828) 682-4285
boeing boeing june 2 through 16
Only two more weekends!
Friday, June 8 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 9 at 7:30pm
Sunday, June 10 at 3pm (with post-show cast Q&A)
Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30pm

Tag Line: A Conversation About “Boeing, Boeing” with director Dwight Chiles

It was a few hours before opening night when I spoke with Dwight Chiles about his production of Boeing, Boeing at Parkway Playhouse.  Last year when he and Kristen Livengood were discussing what plays to do this year Dwight was pleased with the reaction audiences had to The 39 Steps which led to the conclusion that a fast-paced farce, with 7 doors, 4 different accents and one very awkward plot situation would go over very well.  

boeing awkward web

He knew it would be challenging because of the comedic timing necessary and the ability of the actors to handle foreign accents; however, during the casting process he found an ideal combination of actors with the skills to handle the material.  

boeing gretchen couch web

Dwight has a wide range of theatrical capabilities and much his experience and training is connected to Shakespeare who used music and dance in a variety of ways in his work.  Influenced by this, we will see a choreographed dance number (that isn’t in the script). Dwight likes to use music to set the tone and add comedic elements as well. He collaborated with Henry Williamson to find just the right music.   Listen for 1960’s pop music from Italy, France, Germany and the USA in the production. You might even hear a sixties-era commercial jingle or two.

boeing set webDwight designed the set as well. He researched other productions of the play, sixties fashion and design to give us a clear sense of time and place (a Paris apartment in the 1960’s).  Using his drawings, Bruce Chuvala created exactly what Dwight wanted.

See you at the theatre!

Jeff Bachar

To purchase tickets, click HERE or call (828) 682-4285
boeing boeing june 2 through 16
       Saturday, June 2 19 at 7:30pm (with complimentary Opening Night Reception)
Sunday, June 3 at 3pm (with post-show cast Q&A)
Friday, June 8 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 9 at 7:30pm
Sunday, June 10 at 3pm (with post-show cast Q&A)
Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30pm