A great snow… I mean show!

So we are in the final few days of rehearsal for  A CHRISTMAS CAROL and we get walloped with a 2-day snow storm!

Ugh.

The cast has largely been undaunted by this.  They have been showing up to rehearsal with huge energy and we have literally and figuratively been plowing through.  We have had a great time singing songs and putting together a show that captures the spirit of the Christmas Season with Dickens’ timeless tale of ghostly redemption.  It really is a lot of fun.

The cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

This is the first time we have done a major production on this scale outside of our normal  season.

While the cast features a number of seasoned professionals, the real treat is the energetic performances of the younger cast members – many of whom are making their first foray into theatre.  The youngest member of the cast is 4 the oldest is in their 70’s.  Despite the range of ages, everyone in the cast is clearly relishing in the production.   One of my favorite moments in the show is when the cast joins Tiny Tim and the Cratchits in singing ‘What Child is This’.

At the heart of this production is Bruce Chuvala- who plays Ebenezer Scrooge.  Bruce is a fixture at the Parkway Playhouse and his Scrooge is wonderful and the transformation from a Christmas-averse miser to  #1 Holiday-enthusiast is unforgettable.   I have seen actors throw themselves into a role-but Bruce has gone all out.

Bruce Chuvala and Gabriel Garland- who plays Tiny Tim in A CHRISTMAS CAROL

 

The guy in the red shirt is me. The little girl is actually my daughter, Hunter, who is making her Parkway Playhouse début in the children's ensemble of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. We are with Gabriel Garland and Bellami Mencis.

We are all nervous about the  show –  not  just the normal we are about to open jitters but that we will have no audience because of the fear of more bad weather.  So get the word out, and come and see the snow….

“Save the drama for drama class”

In the fall of 2010, the Parkway Playhouse, Jr. opened the doors to children ages 6 to 18 for their first session of theatre classes. A wonderful time was had by all!

A total of 34 students spent 8 weeks exploring various elements of theatre arts. Our elementary students ventured into the excitement of imaginative play, while learning performance skills as they memorized and practiced poetry with clear diction and lots of charisma. The teen students dove straight into monologues, while continuing to practice improvisational skills and discovering basic fundamentals of life in the theatre.

Our instructor, Mary Katherine Smith, is a Parkway Playhouse Company member who just so happens to also be a passionate educator.  Mary Katherine was last seen in Guys and Dolls as Miss Adelaide and Lily St. Regis in Annie, which she also choreographed. She has training from international instructors from all over the world and has worked in various educational studios and institutions with ages 2 to 70 over the past 10 years. We are happy to add her to our Parkway staff as Director of Education and Outreach and are eager to see what she brings to our organization.

We are now moving full steam ahead as we plan for the Spring of 2011 Parkway Playhouse, Jr. classes! We have extended the Spring session to 16 weeks and have added a new age to the equation but opening an 8 week session for 4 and 5 year-olds.

We are very pleased to introduce  Andrea Bailey as a new teacher for the Spring.  Andrea brings with her a deep passion for music, and especially the benefit music has on children and young adults.  Andrea is the music director of Bright Hope Laurel United Methodist Church and is a member of the Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers and a graduate of the Mars Hill Music Department. She is working on A Christmas Carol for the Playhouse where she is serving as music director, and was last seen on stage this summer in the productions of Pride and Prejudice, Guys and Dolls, and Annie. We are very excited for this new addition to our educational department.

We are also thrilled to announce that on the evenings of April 29th and 30th, the Parkway Playhouse, Jr. will be producing their first annual Country Western Show! This will give elementary and teen students an opportunity to hone in on performance skills, while uncovering movement, vocal/choral, and character techniques.

Stay tuned for upcoming information about Parkway Playhouse, Jr. summer camps and programs!!!!

2011!! by Andrew Gall

The Parkway Playhouse turns 65 in 2011 and 2010 was the most successful season in the theatre’s history!   It is hard not to feel like there are HUGE expectations of the Parkway Playhouse after an explosive 2010 season.

I like to tell people that next year will feel a lot like this past year- except different shows. Hopefully, you – that is the magic ingredient after all. The number of people involved on stage, backstage, fixing the building, volunteering to usher, playing in the orchestra pit, sewing costumes, painting sets, etc.   Theatre, at its finest, is an expression and reflection of the community it serves and that to me is what was most exciting about 2010 and what I am most looking forward to with 2011!  Our community is dynamic, energized, and eager for a new adventure.

So, here it is, the Parkway Playhouse 2011 Season:

A Cabaret Show TBA- (dates and venue tba)

(Cowboy Cafe, 2004)

Think songs from musicals that HAVEN’T been seen at the Parkway Playhouse or selections from musicals that SHOULD be done at the Parkway Playhouse.   More on this fundraiser/special production soon….

THE MIRACLE WORKER by William Gibson

May 6- May 14

We are opening earlier this year.  This year the Parkway Playhouse will open on Mother’s Day weekend with the amazing story of how Annie Sullivan met the blind and deaf Helen Keller and taught her communicate with the outside world.  A great inspiring and inspiring story!

Parkway trivia moment:  look at this picture

Look at the guy on the right (that is Anne Bancroft on the left in the motion picture The Miracle Worker)…. The guy on the right is Parkway Playhouse’s own Andrew Prine in his first major motion picture.  Andrew has appeared in many more films and television shows as well as some Parkway Playhouse productions over the years.  Break a leg Andy!

AN UNCIVIL UNION: THE BATTLE OF BURNSVILLE by Britt Kaufmann

June 3-11

During the Civil War some 40 women stormed the Confederate Army stores in Burnsville, NC and took food supplies to keep their families fed.  The next day a group of men raided the same Confederate encampment and stole guns and ammunition…. and a half a ton of bacon.  This is world premiere play is a fictitious account that imagines events leading up to the aforementioned raiding.  Written by Burnsville area poet and author Britt Kaufmann, this surprising and clever new play reminds us that heroes come can come from the unlikeliest of places.  Think Steel Magnolias in the Civil War and you KIND of have the right idea….

Britt Kaufmann... writer, poet, and now playwright


1776 by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards

June 24- July 9

We often take our liberty for granted.  We perhaps forget that it took tremendous courage to sign the Declaration of Independence.  In this amazing musical our history comes to blazing life as John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson struggle to forge a new nation.   I love history.  I love our American history and this production puts you in the room when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Incredible stuff.

These guys thought they were going to hung for treason for doing this. They look so contemplative here....

SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens based on the works of Dr. Seuss

July 22- August 6

I like Dr. Seuss.  Reading his books was a thrill as a child- the zany characters and the clever word play lend themselves to hilarious and dramatic antics.  When I became a parent I re-discovered these stories and characters again as I shared them with my kids.  Seussical takes all of that big energy and pumps it in to an exhilarating evening with lots of singing, dancing, and of course the Cat in the Hat presiding over the whole event.   It is also perfect for families and children of all ages.


ROBIN HOOD:THE LEGEND OF SHERWOOD by Jeff Douglas Messer and Robert Akers

August 12-20

When I was about 9 or 10 my parents took me to see the 1938 Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone version of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.  Around that same time, I saw my first play, the two events are linked in my mind.   I think Robin Hood- and similar such swashbuckling stories are fun, lots of fun .  The bad guys are clearly bad, the good guys are just and true, and the women are courageous and faithful.  I don’t know what happened, but my generation has allowed Mel Brooks to co-opt Robin Hood.  In fact  most people when I say “Robin Hood” immediately follow it with “men in tights”.   So this production, which was written by Jeff Douglas Messer- a truly Merry Man- and Robert Akers is a brash, smart, take on the classic legend with lots of swords.  We’ll see about the tights.

Robin Hood! This is the way it should be.

ALONG ABOUT SUNDOWN by Brenda Lunsford Lilly, featuring the Music of Bascom Lamar Lunsford

August 26-Sept 3

How do you follow-up THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY?  A runaway smash for our theatre last year.  A gothic look at a Southern legend set to haunting music.  I followed it up by asking Brenda Lunsford Lilly if she had any other plays that she had ideas for.   She in fact did.  It turns out Brenda is a niece of Bascom Lamar Lunsford who was a renaissance man of the mountains.  Politician, bandleader, songwriter, storyteller,  and visionary.  He founded the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival – which is still celebrated.  He left a legacy of music and touched many lives and we will absolutely tell his story next season on our stage.  (Thanks Brenda!)

Bascom Lamar Lunsford

FALL PRODUCTION TBA

Dates/Venue TBA

We  are still working out the details on this one.  We have some interesting ideas that we will be sharing soon.

BEAUTIFUL STAR: AN APPALACHIAN NATIVITY By Laurelyn Dossett and Preston Lane

Dates/Venue TBA

( Photo: VanderVeen Photographers from Triad Stage 2009)

Starting with Adam and Eve and ending with the birth of Jesus Christ the parishioners of the Open Heart Fellowship Community Church present their Nativity Pageant with vibrant folk-music and simple, down-home storytelling.  This show-within-a-sh0w captures at once the spirit of the Holidays and the traditions and heritage of Appalachian Storytellers.

So, there it is. Our season.  The only question is what role will you play?  We hope a big one.

Get your tickets to A CHRISTMAS CAROL and watch this space!

Parkway Playhouse Auditions Announced!!!!

The Parkway Playhouse will present its 64th Season in 2010, with performances beginning in June and ending in September.    The theatre is seeking performers for the casts of 5 productions- 3 musicals, 2 plays. Scripts will be available for review at the Parkway Playhouse offices AND at the TRAC galleries in Spruce Pine and Burnsville.

Jacob Stephen, who captivated audiences with his menacing portrayal of Jud Fry in the Parkway Playhouse 2009 production of OKLAHOMA won this leading role after attending an open audition.

The Parkway Playhouse is a “teaching theatre” that uses a small company of professional actors, pre-professional college students, as well as people from the WNC community with a passion for theatre.

For information on Audition and production dates, casting requirements, and roles available please read all the instructions carefully.  Actors should bring a copy of their headshot and resume if they have one. (If you don’t have one, its fine.)

The Parkway Playhouse is attending the WNC Unifieds in Asheville, NC on February 19th and 20th.   All other auditions will be in Burnsville on the dates indicated below. Continue reading Parkway Playhouse Auditions Announced!!!!

A Valentine’s Day Cabaret!

The Parkway Playhouse will present a Valentine’s Day Cabaret performance at the Higgins Methodist Memorial Church’s Family Life Center on Friday February 12 and Saturday February 34.

The evening will include coffee and dessert and performances of songs from a number of Broadway shows ranging from the classic Phantom of the Opera to the recent Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5. Performers at the event include area favorites and Parkway Playhouse regulars like Dominic Aquilino, Noah Gavenus, Izzie Hilbert, Debbie Phillips, Ronnie Robertson, as well as some new faces.

A highlight of the evening will be the debut of some of the world premiere musical The Ballad of Tom Dooley which will open at the Parkway Playhouse in the upcoming summer season.

“Each year we get the opportunity to look at a lot of different musicals and then we have to narrow it down to just a few and this is a great way to bring some of that great music to our audience” commented Parkway Playhouse Producing Artistic Director, Andrew Gall. “Musicals are popular with our audience, and this is a great way to visit some old favorites as well as experience something new and fun.”

Tickets are available 24 hours a day at the Parkway Playhouse website or by calling the Parkway Playhouse at 828-682-4285 and leaving a message.

Come join us at 7:00pm!

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students 16 and under.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Parkway Playhouse.
In addition to the entertainment, guests will have the opportunity to purchase Parkway Playhouse 2010 Season Passes and enjoy coffee and dessert while being entertained.

For more information about The Valentine’s Day Cabaret or the upcoming 2010 Parkway Playhouse season please call the Parkway Playhouse at 828-682-4285, visit the Parkway Playhouse website, or become friends with us on facebook.

The 2010 season

Christopher Dwyer in the 2006 Parkway Playhouse production of OUR TOWN

When I began thinking about the upcoming Parkway Playhouse 2010 season, as always it started with small ideas.  As in, what would be fun do to, fun to see.  But as I, and others  began reading and thinking, the theme of the season began to gravitate towards the idea of change.   All of our plays this season are dedicated to the notion of change and personal transformation.

The characters you will meet (or be reintroduced to) are people who have brought about or inspired powerful transformation in themselves as well as altering their immediate sphere of influence.   In bannering all of these plays under the theme of change I hope we can look past the obvious entertainment and diversion that these plays offer us but also take the message of change that the experience of each of these shows offers to heart.    I hope that this season, our 64th  will be fun for you and your family.   I also hope that it inspires conversation on this blog, on our Facebook page, in the lobby, in the car ride home, and in your own hearts and minds.  I hope that the lasting impression of each of the productions we are on cusp of sharing with you is one of inspiration.

The schedule of shows is below.  If you are interested in auditioning, interning, or working at the Parkway Playhouse this summer you should look at the TENTATIVE audition information that follows.

Leaving Iowa (NC Premiere)

By Tim Clue and Spike Manton

June 4-12

Remember those childhood family vacations you tried to forget? Those memories will come flooding back with  Leaving Iowa. This comedy is a nostalgic ode to being trapped in the family station wagon. When a Boston journalist returns home he is confronted with the memories of the summer vacations cooked up by his  late father. Told in a series of uproariously funny flashbacks of being en route to uninteresting historical sites with well-meaning but naïve parents and a bickering sibling the journalist comes to a new appreciation of the time spent with his father. With a generous dollop of humor and a heart as big as the Midwest, Leaving Iowa shows us that the journey really is as important as the destination.

ANNIE

Book by  Thomas Meehan
Music by  Charles Strouse
Lyrics by  Martin Charnin
Based on the Tribune Media Service Comic Strip, Little Orphan Annie

Directed by Andrew Gall

June 25-July 10

The popular comic strip heroine takes center stage in one of the world’s best-loved musicals. Annie is a spunky Depression-era orphan determined to find her parents, who abandoned her on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations, befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and finds a new family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

GUYS AND DOLLS

Book by  Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music by  Frank Loesser
Lyrics by  Frank Loesser
Based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon

Directed by Andrew Gall

July 23- August7

How could a bunch of rough and tumble gangsters end up singing about “the boat to heaven” in a Times Square mission? Anything’s possible when love is on the line, and never more so than in Guys and Dolls, one of the greatest American musicals of all time. Based on Damon Runyon’s gritty tales of the 1930s NYC underworld, bursting with colorful characters, and with a score that features iconic hits like “Luck Be a Lady” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” Guys and Dolls promises to light up the night.

THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY (World Premiere)

Book by Ken Stone and Brenda Lilly

Music by Jan Powell

Directed by Michael Lilly

August 13-22

At the end of the civil war, and set against the backdrop of rural North Carolina,  Tom Dooley returns to his hometown bitter but determined to put the catastrophic war behind him.  He becomes involved in a love triangle and is framed heinous murder that threatens to divide the town along Blue and Grey lines.  Torn by his sense of justice, the love of a mysterious woman, and his principals Tom Dooley makes  the only choice he can to save all that he holds dear.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Adapted by Jon Jory

From the Novel by Jane Austen

Directed by Andrew Gall

August 27- September 4

All of the wit and romance of Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel come to life in this refreshingly fast-paced and engaging new adaptation. Finding a husband is hardly Elizabeth Bennet’s most urgent priority. But with four sisters, an overzealous match-making mother, and a string of unsuitable suitors, it’s difficult to escape the subject. When the independent-minded Elizabeth meets the handsome but enigmatic Mr. Darcy, she is determined not to let her feelings triumph over her own good sense — but the truth turns out to be slipperier than it seems. In a society where subtle snubs and deceit proliferate, is it possible for Elizabeth and Darcy to look beyond his pride and her prejudice, and to make the best match of all?

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN AUDITIONING:

You should watch the blog, our website, and Facebook page for audition information including details on how to prepare, cast breakdowns, etc.

The Parkway Playhouse will have a representative at both dates of the WNC Unified Theatre Auditions at AB Tech’s Campus on February 19 & 20.  This is a cattle call audition and we will be seeing actors present a 90 second singing/acting audition.  This is the only open cattle call the Parkway Playhouse will be attending. (We will not be at UPTA’s or Spring SETC).

The Parkway Playhouse will also be holding open auditions in Burnsville on March 6, 20 (children only), and  27.   More information will be made available soon!

Let me know what you think…. send a reply.

2010 dreaming under a new roof

Hi and welcome to the Parkway Playhouse Blog.

With the new year and a blank calendar, the possibilities seem endless and hopeful.  This is one of my favorite times each year- except for the bitter cold!    It is a time of renewal and a time of hope.  According to a recent article I read by Andy Serwer, the editor of Fortune magazine, the last decade was, well, hellish.  As we move into the new year and the new decade, we have high hopes that things can and will get better.  We all dream of better times and at this time of year some of those dreams always feel closer to realization.  Dreams, ideas,  and plans -whether they resolutions for the new year or not- require us to change and change requires effort.   Sam Nash, the current Parkway Playhouse Board President,  likes to remind us all that  “if it is to be, it is because of you and me”. What Sam is talking about is that realizing the changes for the better we want to make in ourselves, our families, our communities are brought about by concerted effort.  You cannot wish change to happen and stop there.

Speaking of changes.  When you come to the theatre this summer, you will be able to see physical change.  Maintaining our historic theatre is one of the most important challenges we have as an organization.    When I arrived I like to tell people the major issues were “heat, seats, and sound”.   We installed some air conditioning in 2005; in 2007 we installed new seats, and over the course of the last 6 years we have added some things to reinforce and amplify sound in the theatre.  The sound issue we have whittled away at for the last few years, but sound equipment is expensive and it is also very difficult to get grants to cover these expenses.  Anyway,  the theatre building is in increasing need of repairs, upgrades, and renovation.  This Spring, we are going to re-roof the building.  This will hopefully cut down on the leaks throughout the building  and the associated water damage that comes with it There are currently places in the building where leaks from the roof have rotted out floors backstage.   A few years ago we had a commode in one of the public restrooms fell through a floor that was rotten from moisture.  In 2010,  The Cannon Foundation and the Phillips Foundation have generously agreed to cover the costs of re-roofing the entire theatre with architectural shingles, which will give the new roof a 30-40 year lifespan.  It is a fabulous gift.

There still is more to do.  The theatre, once considered and promoted as a state of the art facility has antiquated plumbing profoundly inadequate amenities.  We need to continue to chip away at the long list of upgrades and repairs that are needed.  Eventually the theatre is going to have to raise the money to complete the repairs needed and this will cost approximately a million dollars to do.  It is a big dream in these times perhaps.  Some have told us it is impossible but we have no alternative if the theatre is to continue.

I hope you will save room on your blank 2010 calendars for coming to the Parkway Playhouse, look for us to announce our season in just a little bit.  I think we are going to have a great year!