Actor Spotlight: Kristen Livengood

Kristen Livengood

Today we are speaking with Kristen Livengood, who will be playing the maid in our upcoming virtual production of A Sherlock Holmes Radio Mystery.

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

Kristen: I have to say that it is so nice to have rehearsals again.  While I have found joy spending much more time with my family during the pandemic, I will say going back into rehearsals and being creative with other people has been a breath of fresh air.  It’s so nice to get to work with Jenny, Daniel and Will again.  I feel like I’ve been able to catch up with them and see how they’re doing, and have really enjoyed creating with them again.  It’s also so nice that while we’re still stuck at home, I’m getting to make some new friends in Michelle, Nick and Lara.

PPH: What makes this particular experience unique?

Kristen: This is an incredibly unique experience, in that I’ve never performed over Zoom before.  What I like about this is that it’s a radio show.  I had the pleasure in performing in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with Parkway Playhouse about 7 years ago, and I just love that it’s so much more focused on sound.  It’s so fun to play with voices, accents and sound effects.

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.

Musician Spotlight: The Amélie Band

We are so lucky to have assembled one of the best group of musicians in the area for our production of Amélie!


PPH: Tell us a bit about yourself! 

Emily EldridgeI play violin, and I am going into my sophomore year at Covenant College. I am majoring in music theory and have been playing violin for 8 years. This is my first time doing a musical, but I was in my school’s orchestra all through middle school, high school, and now college. I also played with the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra for 2 years, and I play in an ensemble every Sunday at First Presbyterian Church of Weaverville. 

Sarah FowlerI am the Music Director and pianist. I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Piano Pedagogy from Western Carolina University which is where I work, both in the School of Stage and Screen and in the School of Music. This is my sixth production at Parkway — previously I was the Asst. MD for ALL SHOOK UP and was the MD for BONNIE AND CLYDE, INTO THE WOODS JR., and GODSPELL. I also played several performances of FOOTLOOSE.  

Sara NicholsI grew up in Bradenton, Florida- but found out I was actually a mountain girl after attending Mars Hill University. I’ve been making music in WNC ever since on both upright and electric bass. You can catch me in one of the many regional pits or orchestras. This is my third show at the Parkway Playhouse.

Matthew Richmond: I’m a percussionist and composer, and I teach music at UNCA. This is my 4th production at Parkway Playhouse – previously I’ve done THE KING AND I, GODSPELL, and subbed a few nights of FOOTLOOSE.

Misty Theisen:  For AMÉLIE I am playing flute, bass flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet. I have a Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Flute performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. Currently, I teach woodwinds and music education at Mars Hill University. This is my second show at Parkway Playhouse, the first being BONNIE AND CLYDE. 


PPH: What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far?

EldridgeMy favorite part of the rehearsal process has been getting to see and hear how the music goes with the story and everything happening on stage. 

FowlerThroughout the rehearsal process, you watch these talented actors develop their characters, and the final product going into tech is always great! But there is a subtle magic that happens on the night when they wear their costumes for the first time. You finally see their character come to life, and it is incredible how it transforms their vocal confidence. That is always my favorite part of the process. (Shout out to Samantha and her brilliant costume design.) 

NicholsMy favorite part of the rehearsal process so far has been getting to actually watch the show! Due to an injury I had to take a night off playing and got to sit in the audience- something about being a performer is never getting to experience the show the way the crowd does. It made the showmake so much more sense.

TheisenIt’s amazing to see how a show coheres together and becomes moving piece of art in such a short time. The interplay between all the artists on and off the stage is such a magical process. 

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PPH: What is your favorite musical number in the production?

EldridgeMy favorite musical number in this production is “Where Do We Go From Here.”

Fowler: Even though this amazing cast has given me a reason to love every single song, my favorite is “Stay”, mostly due to the ensemble. They only sing a total of seven measures, but juxtaposed against the beautiful vulnerability that Amélie and Nino are bringing onstage, you feel every emotion in the room during those seven measures. It’s incredibly moving.

NicholsI love Hunter as Elton John in “Goodbye, Amélie”! Hunter’s so well cast in that role… sparkle feather jacket, attitude, and sweet bass lines!

Richmond“Stay.” It’s a simple and beautiful song that could stand alone, and in the context of a show about imagination its sincerity is very powerful.

TheisenI truly love every minute of this gorgeous show, “Times are Hard for Dreamers” and “When the Booth Goes Bright” are my top two!


PPH: What do you like about performing/playing at Parkway Playhouse?

Fowler: The professionalism, organization, and communication are just three of the many things that I value and appreciate about Parkway Playhouse. I think the world of Kristen Livengood and admire what she has done for this theatre. To be perfectly honest, I love everything about Parkway and what it provides to its actors, its patrons, and to the community. 

NicholsAMÉLIE has been a great show to be a part of- Parkway Playhouse has a great team of people who think creatively and innovatively to get the job done.


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

FowlerWe have joked that we are living out the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Sara and I went to college together, so we have known each other for 16 years. Sara and Matthew play together in the Asheville Symphony. Matthew and I have played several shows together, the first being in 2015 which was also the first show that Misty and I ever played together. (Fun fact: AMÉLIE will be the 13th show that Misty and I have done together with 5 more upcoming.) She and I are former members and board members of the Asheville Community Band. When Emily was in middle school, Misty was her strings teacher. I have known Emily for the last 7 years because she plays in my church orchestra at the First Presbyterian Church in Weaverville where I’m the Music Director. Misty plays there throughout the year and for all of my Christmas and Easter programs, and Sara’s husband has played for me as well. Matthew will be playing there for the first time this Christmas. We’re all well-connected at this point!

NicholsWe also added a chicken that we’ve lovingly monikered “Princess Di-Henna”,  you won’t hear her say much, but she remains an integral part of our team.


PPH: What makes this particular experience unique?

FowlerGrowing up, I lived inside of my head a lot and had a very vivid imagination — one of the reasons I can connect with Amélie. When I was a kid I had a beta fish named Cleo. I remember sticking my finger in her tank, and she would come to the surface and nibble at my finger while I talked to her. I one hundred percent believed that Cleo would talk to me if she could. In our show, William Ezzell (who is so incredibly talented) plays Fluffy, the goldfish. The first time I saw this scene come to life, I was immediately transported back to my childhood and to Cleo. AMÉLIE has a way of making you believe in youthful magic all over again, and that is unique. I’m forever grateful to my amazing friend, Dwight Chiles, for allowing me to be a part of these beautiful productions like AMÉLIE. He is one of the most creative, kind, and supportive humans I’ve ever known. 

NicholsI believe this is everyone’s first time playing THIS show. In circles of professional musicians its very rare to find that- it mean’s we all had the same learning to do, but also no preconceived ideas about who was supposed to be sounding a certain way.


PPH: What have been some of the challenges, musically? What are some of the highlights?

FowlerI love a show in which the plot is propelled through music, and AMÉLIE is one of those shows. Everything flows so seemlessly that you have no idea that over an hour has passed when the lights come up for intermission. The challenge with a show like this, other than physical and mental stamina, is making sure that everything you play lines up perfectly with what is happening on stage. It requires more looking at the action on stage than it does at the actual music. 

NicholsWhen I started the practice and rehearsals I thought I would be playing upright bass for this show- we wanted the warmer natural tones, but after a couple rehearsals an injury to one of my fingers forced switching to electric bass, which meant quick thinking to catch up on a different instrument.


PPH: What drew you to Parkway Playhouse or to this particular show?

Eldridge: When I was asked to play for this show, I didn’t know much about Parkway Playhouse or Amélie, but I have really enjoyed being part of this and playing the music.




Actor Spotlight: Christine Caldemeyer

Christine returns to Parkway Playhouse as the titular role, Amélie!

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PPH: How do you vocally prepare?

Christine: Truth be told, I have been obsessed with mixing herbal teas since I was in high school, and for about two years now I’ve been making a special blend that I like to call “throat potion” for myself, and anyone who wants it backstage. I use licorice root, ginger, and mint for flavor, echinacea and elderberry to boost the immune system, and then marshmallow root and slippery elm as pain relievers. LOTS of water is a big must; your chords dry out quick if you don’t keep up with hydration. So that, and the tea are the main things I use.

A new item that I’ve found to be exceptionally helpful is a personal steam inhaler. It helps keep my voice warm, and my nose and throat clear. You can find them at your local drug store, and it was well worth the purchase!

Also, it never hurts to go on vocal rest. Talking is a lot harder on your voice than one would think, and while it certainly requires some creativity when trying to run errands or going about a work day, the results help tremendously.

And finally, listen to your body. If your voice gets tired or sore (and mine definitely did at points) mark it and don’t push things. The voice is a very delicate and temperamental instrument, and it’s important to listen when it gives you those warning signs.

PPH: What is your favorite prop?

Christine: The spyglass! It’s iconic, and fits so perfectly into the pocket of my costume. Kai, the actress who plays Young Amélie, and I share it throughout the show, and I love how it’s essentially an extension of how she relates to the world. As we tell this story, the complex relationship Amélie has with the ability to see, but not engage, is beautifully encapsulated through the use of it.

PPH: What do you like about acting at Parkway?

Christine: I love how when you step inside, you can feel the history of music and art that has seeped into the very walls. It’s a dusty old barn filled with some of my best memories! It’s a unique experience to step on onto a stage with such a rich timeline of performers, and knowing that I’m now a part of it.

The production team is a well-oiled machine in how things get done in a way I have always admired, but there’s also a familial energy here that I’ve consistently felt every time we’ve opened a show. Working as an actor and a costumer, this place sets the bar for professionalism and protected artistic expression.

Catch Christine, and the rest of the talented cast and crew, in Amélie, which runs July 27th-August 10th. Tickets are available through our box office (828-682-4285) which is open Thursdays-Saturdays, or online here!

Actor Spotlight: Kai’ana Stella

Kai’anna Stella makes her MainStage debut starring as Young Amélie in Amélie!


PPH: For those who may not know you, tell us a bit about yourself!

Kai: My name is Kai’ana Stella and I am 10 years old. I will be in the 5th grade at Spruce Pine Montessori School. I have been acting at Parkway Playhouse since I was very young and Amélie will be my 15th production. Some of my favorite roles were Private the penguin in Madagascar Jr., Chenille in Junie B. Jones Jr., and The Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland Jr. I play soccer, dance, and play piano. I also have two hermit crabs named Cheeto and Little Bit who have helped though the process (even though they can’t talk). 

PPH: What has been your favorite part of rehearsal?

Kai: My favorite part of the rehearsal has been learning about Amélie (I had no idea what it was about before I started the show) and seeing it come to life. It has been magical to be in this play and so much fun.  

PPH: What do you like about acting at Parkway Playhouse?

Kai: It was very fun to make so many new friends during this show because I barely knew anyone at the beginning of rehearsal. Everyone has been so nice to me during rehearsals. 

PPH: This is your first mainstage show! What are some of the largest differences between rehearsing and performing in a junior show versus a mainstage production?

Kai: The biggest differences between mainstage and Junior (to me) are that mainstage has a lot more show dates and rehearsals are almost every day. Junior also does not go as late each night and it has fewer practices each week.


Catch Kai, and the rest of the talented cast and crew, in Amélie, which runs July 27th-August 10th. Tickets are available through our box office (828-682-4285) which is open Thursdays-Saturdays, or online here!

Actor Spotlight – Kristen Livengood

Kristen Livengood, our brilliant Operations Manager, is returning to the Parkway stage in this season’s production of Amélie!

PPH: What do you like about acting at Parkway Playhouse? 

Kristen: The best thing about performing at Parkway is that everyone is so kind and supportive of each other. We belly laugh at each other’s comedic timing, we applaud each other and we help each other when we can’t remember what scene comes next. We truly are a family and we love what we do. It’s so easy to call Parkway a home away from home, because we have each other’s backs. I’ve never worked at another company that has felt this close-knit. It’s something special.


PPH: Were you familiar with the film before the process? How has it influenced your performance, if at all?

Kristen: I had seen the film when I was in college and remember it having a huge influence on my life. My best friend and I used to create very intricate scavenger hunts for each other, and when my husband and I first started dating, I would create these incredibly long scavenger hunts that would take him hours to solve – all to find a can of black olives (his favorite). I haven’t rewatched the film prior to working on this project, because I didn’t want to copy what the actors in the film had done. I definitely plan to watch the film again soon, though.


PPH: What makes this particular experience unique?

Kristen: This is my first time performing scripted theatre after the birth of my son. I definitely feel rusty and I’m a lot more tired than I used to be, but working with this incredibly talented cast and creative team has been so energizing and inspiring and I feel like I’m able to stay in touch with me as a person and not just me as a mom.

Come see Kristen, as well as the rest of the immensely talented cast, in the last weekend of Amélie at Parkway Playhouse!

Actor Spotlight: Annelise Henry

Annelise Henry returns to the Parkway Playhouse stage for the first time in two years in Amélie!

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PPH: You are no stranger to the Parkway Playhouse stage, but for those who might not be familiar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself!

Annelise: My name is Annelise, and I am a recent BFA Musical Theatre graduate of the School of Stage and Screen at Western Carolina University! I have been dancing since my parents put me in my first ballet class at the age of five, and I found my passion for singing and acting when I auditioned for my first ever musical, Annie, at the age of six (fun fact: I actually didn’t get cast at all, but that obviously didn’t stop me)! I also am an avid health and wellness guru and am working on becoming a certified group fitness teacher. You may have seen me as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde two years ago, which was my first time performing at Parkway and I loved every second of it. There is something so special about performing at Parkway and in these beautiful mountains that always leaves my heart full to the brim! I also have performed at Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Jesus Christ Superstar, Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in their productions of The Bridges of Madison County, Legally Blonde, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as many collegiate productions such as Beauty and the Beast, Spring Awakening, Company, Hair, and Cabaret. 

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


Annelise: I am acting in this show with SO many old pals that are so near and dear to my heart. That is a large part of why I have enjoyed this process so much! This is my fourth show with Dwight and Christine, and it is always a joy and privilege to be working with their talent and brilliance. I also am working with some friends from school, Hunter and Dylan, who are always a ton of fun! I also have become great friends with Burnsville’s choreographer extraordinaire, Collin Eten, who is just SO much fun and a joy to work with (This is also a formal and public apology to Dwight and Shari for us laughing and joking during 97% of the time during rehearsals). Those are just a few specific names, but truly everyone in this cast is SO much fun and their talent blows me away. I always leave at the end of the night so amazed at what this ensemble brings to the table and how I get to be even just a small part of it.

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PPHTell us a little bit about your character? What about your character is the least like you?

Annelise: I play Georgette, Sylvie, and Colignon’s Mother and all three of them are SO different. It’s so much fun to play all of them and switch between their different personalities so quickly on and off the stage. The majority of the play, I am Georgette, who is definitely my kindred spirit deep down. She is spastic, random, silly, but so lovable and sweet. Her intentions always come from a heart of gold, and is just the sweetest gal you’ll ever meet. She’s like your crazy cousin that you only see on holidays but can’t help but love so much. Also, her costume is the BEST (specifically the fanny pack). Sylvie, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She is grounded and doesn’t care about a single thing. She is laid back, cool, and collected- the complete opposite of me! My favorite part about playing her is definitely the sunglasses I get to wear. Colignon’s Mother I only play for a moment, but she is just the funniest old lady you’ll ever met. I love playing her, even if it is only shortly!

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Catch Annelise, and the rest of the talented cast and crew, in Amélie, which runs July 27th-August 10th. Tickets are available through our box office (828-682-4285) which is open Thursdays-Saturdays, or online here!

Actor Spotlight: Hunter Taylor

Hunter Taylor, our Education Coordinator, makes a splashy return to the stage as Elton John in Amélie!


PPH: Tell us a bit about yourself! You can talk about your education, history with Parkway Playhouse or acting in general, and anything else you’d like to mention.

Hunter: This is my third season that I have spent with Parkway. I spent one summer as an actor in a few shows, the second as an intern and an actor, and now I am on staff as the Educational Coordinator and Social Media Manager. I graduated from Western Carolina University with. BFA in Musical Theatre, and I am so glad to be here in Burnsville doing what I love full time.


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

Hunter: There are many wonderful scenes in this show, but I really love the opening sequence. It covers a ton of material very quickly, and the staging and choreography does such a great job in telling the story. It is really beautiful to watch and to be a part of. The music in the opening sequence really sets up some major themes for the rest of the show, which I think is pretty cool. I’m a big theatre nerd, so connecting themes and leitmotifs is super exciting for me.


PPH: What is your favorite musical number in the production?

Hunter: My favorite musical number would have to be, selfishly, “Goodbye Amélie”, which I sing as Elton John. It’s a real blast to sing, and I get to be Elton John….which is pretty awesome. I also love to hear Christine sing “Times are Hard for Dreamers” and ‘The Girl with the Glass”. Those are two excruciatingly beautiful songs and moments in the show.

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

Hunter: I am acting with several friends! I know most of the cast, either from past Parkway productions, or through school. Annelise Henry is one of my best friends, so it’s great to be in another show with her again. I also know Dylan Renken from college, and having him in the show has been a wonderful experience. Working with my Parkway friends is always a pleasure. I have loved seeing Christine, Roberta, Collin, William, and Tabitha, all of which I have previously worked with, and Shelby who is one of my college interns. I am also so proud of Kai’ana Stella for the amazing job she’s doing in the show-she was in one of my Conservatory classes this past year. I have been involved in every production Dwight has directed here, so it is a real honor to be in another one of his shows. I have worked with Sarah Fowler, our music director, more times than I can count. She has really heard me at my highest highs and at my lowest lows. I have also loved getting to know Jane, Shari (the outstanding choreographer), and the rest of the crew and band-they all work so hard, and do such a wonderful job. I have to give a special shoutout to all of the interns and apprentices working on this production-it could not happen without them! Also, a massive shoutout to Kristen Livengood who has been my guardian angel this entire year.


PPH: What makes this particular experience unique?

Hunter: This particular experience has been very unique for me. This show is unique in itself, which makes for a very interesting rehearsal process. I also have not seen the film it is based on, nor any footage from any of the stage productions, so this is really the first time I went into a process completely blind. It is kind of freeing not know how others have played the roles I am playing. I really feel like I have made them my own.

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Catch Hunter, and the rest of the talented cast and crew, in Amélie, which runs July 27th-August 10th. Tickets are available through our box office (828-682-4285) which is open Thursdays-Saturdays, or online here!