The King & I Actor Spotlight – Amy, Jack & Turner Weinmeister

photo 3 (1)Q: Why did you audition for The King & I?

AW: I love musicals. Period.

JW: Forced family fun.

TW: My mom wanted me to.

Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

AW: At Parkway, I’ve appeared in 9-5, Peter Pan, and Sherlock Holmes: The Curse of the Bloody Heart. I’ve also danced with High Country Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker for the past three years.

JW: Alice in Wonderland, I Never Saw Another Butterfly

TW: The Nutcracker, Christmas pageants, and Alice in Wonderland

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

AW: I work as environmental educator part-time at the Orchard at Altapass. I also volunteer in Yancy County schools and serve on various non-profit boards, including Parkway Playhouse.

JW: I go to school at East Yancey Middle.

TW: I usually go to school, play with friends, or just chill.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

AW: I am always thrilled to meet new folks in the cast, some who live in town and some I keep track of through Facebook.

JW: I have seen older friends, but not met new ones.

TW: I’ve met new friends, but I haven’t done anything with them in the outside world.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

AW: Learning choreography is usually my favorite. I have yet to watch my sons in their roles.

JW: Getting to have fun with the cast.

TW: Meeting new people.

Q: What is your favorite line or song from the show?

AW: When Tuptim pronounces “O-hi-o” (the state) as “Oh-hee-oh” as she retells Uncle Tom’s Cabin is my favorite line, because it’s clearly a laugh/gaff line underscoring how we all convolute one another’s languages and cultures.

JW: The line I like most is when the King continues to say “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

TW: I Whistle a Happy Tune, because it’s such a fun song to sing.

Q: Are there people in your life who have never seen you on stage? What do you think will surprise them?

AW: Possibly, yes, I’m sure. Nothing would surprise them though.

JW: I think the people who haven’t seen me on stage will be very surprised by the mood of the play.

TW: Yes, and I think they have never seen me do a big act like this.

Q: At what age did you first know you wanted to act?

AW: Freshman year in high school, although we’d (my friends, sisters, and I) been putting on “summer stock” neighborhood plays throughout my childhood.

JW: I was about 9 when I first wanted to start acting.

TW: I think it was 6.

Q: What’s the #1 reason someone should see this show?

AW: The folks at Parkway excel at big musical productions. They’re always fun!

JW: It is a funny and eventful play.

TW: Everyone has worked so hard, and they would love the play.

Q: If you could appear onstage with any classic actor or actress, who would it be and why?

AW: Sir Ian McKellen is just an amazing actor, multifaceted, rich. I also am a Meryl Streep fan because she can play anyone.

JW: I would like to work with Harrison Ford because I’ve been watching his movies since I was little.

TW: Harrison Ford, because he is an AWESOME actor and he would be a lot of fun to work with.

Q: What is it like to work on a Rodgers and Hammerstein production?

AW: R&H make profound commentary on social, cultural, and race/gender issues while completely entertaining the audience.

JW: It’s pretty hard but still fun all the same.

TW: It’s great! Challenging, but GREAT!

Q: Anything else that you’d like people to know about you?

AW: I met Bono in 1987. I’d just been in a car accident, and my face was all cut up. When I told him I was in a “wreck” (because he asked what happened to my face), he asked “What’s a wreck?” I taught Bono a new word.

JW: No, not really.

TW: No thank you!

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Nationally Renowned Professional and Local Favorite is Offering Voice Lessons at Parkway Playhouse

DMAcroppedCasualHeadshotSign up to train with one of the leading instructors in the field of Musical Theater!

Dominic Michael Aquilino has been heralded as possessing a voice “darkly rich and equally lyric and handsome….“Baritone Dominic Aquilino vocally strong and darkly handsome, acted and sang the unrepentant title role (Don Giovanni) with chilling realism.” The Plain Dealer Cleveland, Ohio

With over 25 years of opera and theater credits, Dominic Michael Aquilino has been a principal and featured performer at some of the nations leading companies; The Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Orlando Opera, Cleveland Opera, The National Opera, The Manhattan Opera Theater, Utah Festival Opera, The Broadhollow Theater, Theater Three and the Brevard Music Center.

Parkway Playhouse audiences may remember him as starring as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Curly in Oklahoma, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Franklin Hart Jr. in 9 to 5, and Kodaly in She Loves Me. Dominic is excited to be returning to the Parkway stage this summer as Oberon, King of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Since moving to the mountains of Western North Carolina, Mr. Aquilino has performed in Operas, Musicals and Plays. With the Asheville Lyric Opera Dominic has taken the stage in such roles as Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Marcello in La Boheme, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan Tutte, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Morales and Dancairoin Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, Monterone in Rigoletto, Belcore in Elixir of Love and Gregorio in Romeo et Julliette.

And on an other local theater stage, Haywood Arts Regional Theater, the versatile performer has also been busy these past few seasons as Johnny Cash in Ring of Fire, Michael Snow in I Do, I Do, Del Delmonico in Breaking Up Is Hard to Do! and Signor Naccarelli in The Light in the Piazza.

Some of Mr. Aquilino’s other favorite roles include the title role in Don Giovanni, Silvio in Pagliacci, the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, El Gallo in The Fantasticks in NY, The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and the role he created and recorded on the Albany Records Labelin New York for the World Première Opera, the villainous Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon in The House of the Seven Gables.

The New York Times and Opera News said this of his performance:

“ Dominic Aquilino conveys both the power and menace of Jaffrey- his outward righteousness and his interior villainy-through purely vocal meansDominic Aquilino’s solid baritone was well suited to the music that Mr. Eyerly gave the oily, grasping Jaffrey.”

As a merit scholar, Mr. Aquilino received his Masters of Music and Professional Studies credits from The Manhattan School of Music. The busy performer serves on faculty as a Professor of Music and Drama at Mars Hill University and Western Carolina University, and recently joins the Music and Theater faculty at ETSU.

In addition, he has lead classes for the Asheville Arts Center, Parkway Playhouse, Milligan College’s Summer Arts Festival and has over 15 years of national outreach experience educating children from Harlem to Salt Lake City.

For more information or to schedule a private voice lesson, please email: mksmith@parkwayplayhouse.com.

Forever Plaid Actor Spotlight – David Sebren as Smudge

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pictured left to right – Steven Green as Jinx, David Sebren as Smudge, Bobby Abrahamson as Sparky (photo by Rob Storrs)

Q: Why did you audition for Forever Plaid?

DS:  I auditioned for Parkway Playhouse because I have wanted for quite some time, to come back home (Asheville) and be able to perform.

Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

DS: I have worked for quite a few theatres.  It is possible that people could have seen me at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival or The Lost Colony.  It might be easier to say what they can come see me in.  After Forever Plaid I will be performing in Charlotte’s Web in Asheville and this fall I will be playing Macbeth at Haywood Arts Regional Theatre.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

DS: A typical day for me would be rehearsals and performances.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

DS: The cast is great.  We have only known each other for a few days.  We have been out to lunch several times and had a good time.

Q: What is your favorite song from the show?

DS:  My favourite song would have to be 16 Tons and Chain Gang.  Chain Gang was one of my favourite songs as a child.

Q: Are there people in your life who have never seen you on stage?

DS: I’m pretty sure every one has seen me perform at this point.  I’ve been doing theatre for 15 years now.

Q: At what age did you first know you wanted to act?

DS: I started dance lessons at three and I can remember wanting to be on stage my entire life.

Q: If you could appear onstage with any classic actor or actress, who would it be and why?

DS: Sir. Laurence Olivier, because he is amazing!

 

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Artistic Director Andrew Gall Reveals Why He Chose Forever Plaid for Parkway Playhouse Season

Gall_photoI missed the 1950’s.  Well, I wasn’t alive during the 1950’s.  But based on my parents, grandparents, movies like Back To the Future and television shows like Happy Days, I know that it was an important time.

Our country had emerged as victors from WWII and the people Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation” built highways and homes; television piped in images into living rooms from coast to coast… Anything seemed possible and the pop music from this time clearly reflects this optimism.

Forever Plaid gives a chance to go back to this era and forget our cynicism and get caught up in the moment with the four freshly-scrubbed characters- Jinx, Smudge, Frances, and Sparky- characters who were spared the turmoil of the 60’s and beyond…

Parkway Playhouse has been waiting for several years to get the rights to Forever Plaid, and it couldn’t have come at a better moment.  The talent that we have been able to endow this production with is phenomenal.  (Nearly all of them are new to Parkway Playhouse – which is always exciting.)

My office is directly above our rehearsal space and for the past two weeks I have heard this cast painstakingly work their way through this music, building harmonies, and creating the one-of-a-kind experience that can only happens in live theatre – where both actor and audience get lost in an unexpected shared moment.  I hope your evening with the Plaids is filled with such moments; an ear-to-ear smile, maybe a tear in your eye, and a song, earnestly sung, in your heart.

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Forever Plaid Actor Spotlight – Steven Green as Jinx

pictured left to right - Steven Green as Jinx, David Sebren as Smudge, Nathan Singer as Frankie, Bobby Abrahamson as Sparky (photo by Rob Storrs)
pictured left to right – Steven Green as Jinx, David Sebren as Smudge, Nathan Singer as Frankie, Bobby Abrahamson as Sparky (photo by Rob Storrs)

Q: Why did you audition for Forever Plaid?

SG: My good friend and mentor, Dominic Aquilino, told me about the auditions.

Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

SG: In the area people might have seen me at SART last year in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, or in Gypsy.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

SG: Typically I wake up around noon to attend a few classes. In the beginning of my college career I had what seemed like a hundred credit hours, but being a senior I now have few required classes to take so I get to relax. In the evenings I usually have rehearsal for whatever school show we’re doing.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

SG: The four of us get along famously. I look forward to working with all of them in the future.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

SG: The close-knit harmonies are my favorite part.

Q: What is your favorite line or song from the show?

SG: During the show my character has a transformation number, Cry, and I think it is going to be my favorite number.

Q: At what age did you first know you wanted to act?

SG: I was in kindergarten and I got the lead in a musical we did for an old folks home. I played santa clause.

Q: If you could appear onstage with any classic actor or actress, who would it be and why?

SG: I would really like to work with Norm Lewis, Michael Rupert and Julia Murney again. When I was eleven I had the unique experience of working with such great stars and we all bonded so much. They’re also all amazing.

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A Note From the Author of Forever Plaid

pictured left to right - Steven Edward Green as Jinx, David Sebren as Smudge, Nathan Singer as Frankie, Bobby Abrahamson as Sparky (photo by Rob Storrs)
pictured left to right – Steven Edward Green as Jinx, David Sebren as Smudge, Nathan Singer as Frankie, Bobby Abrahamson as Sparky (photo by Rob Storrs)

When most of us think of the 1950s, we think of rock ‘n’ roll, greasers, hot rods, Elvis, Annette, Fabian, D.A., haircuts and teenage rebellion. But there was a flip side to this era—the side of harmony, innocence and the sincerity of dreams. It is the side that’s been lost in the shuffle of progress. It was a time when most parents and kids listened and danced to the same music; when families partook of the ritual of gathering in front of the TV to watch their favorite variety shows, like the Ed Sullivan show or the Perry Como Show. It was a time when every family worked to fulfill the American Dream.

It was a period when four-part guy groups harmonized their way across the airwaves, jukeboxes and hi-fis of the country.  Throughout the land they would stand at a quartet of microphones, crooning a multitude of chaperoned prom-goers into dreamy romance.

They wore dinner jackets and bow ties (or perhaps cardigans and white bucks). Each move was drilled to precision. Each vocal arrangement soared to stratospheric heights of harmony. This sound crested right before rock ‘n’ roll stole the heartbeat of music across the globe.

During this time, guys across the country banded together to sing in the basement for fun. If things worked out they might be hired to sing at weddings, conventions, proms and country club socials. Inspired by the success of the recording stars, they made plans to zoom into careers of fame and fortune. But the musical taste of the U.S.A. was changing, and the country would not stop to listen to their dreams.

This is the story of such a group—FOREVER PLAID.

Once upon a time, there were four guys (Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie) who loved to sing. They all met in high school, when they joined the audiovisual club (1956). Discovering they shared an affection for music and entertaining, they go together and dreamed of becoming like their idols—The Four Aces, The Four Lads, The Four Freshmen, The Hi-Los and The Crew Cuts. They rehearsed in the basement of Smudge’s family’s plumbing supply company. It was here they became Forever Plaid—a name that connects the continuation of traditional values of family, home and harmony, although rock ‘n’ roll was racing down the fast lane like a candy apple “vette”, they believed in their music. As their sound developed, they sang at family gatherings, fund-raisers, and eventually graduated to supermarket openings and proms. They had little time for romance or leisure for they supported their fantasy by holding down day jobs—Frankie was in dental supplies, Smudge was in bathroom fixtures, Sparky was in better dresses. They devoted themselves to singing at nights and on weekends. Then, finally, they landed their first big gig at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar—The Fusel Lounge.

February 9, 1964

En route to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedos, they were slammed broadside by a school bus filled with eager Catholic teens. The teens were on their way to witness the Beatles make their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show and miraculously escaped uninjured. The members of Forever Plaid were killed instantly. It is at that moment, when their careers and lives ended, that the story of FOREVER PLAID begins.

Through the Power of Harmony and the Expanding Holes in the Ozone Layer, in conjunction with the positions of the planets and all the astrotechnical stuff, they are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in life.

And having completed their Mission of Harmony, our men in plaid must return to the cosmos. Although they may be gone, through this production their dreams live on forever.

Stuart Ross

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