Artistic Director Andrew Gall Reveals Why He Chose Walking Across Egypt For Parkway Playhouse Season

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In one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs, Land of Hope and Dreams,   listeners are called to board an allegorical train that will take all who want to ride to a better place;

This train…
Carries saints and sinners
This train…
Carries losers and winners
This train…
Carries whores and gamblers
This train…
Carries lost souls
I said this train…
Dreams will not be thwarted
This train…
Faith will be rewarded

It is a powerful and emotionally charged song.  I relate to it because, like Mr. Springsteen, my faith has not always been rewarded.  Who hasn’t been let down in painful unexpected ways? Who hasn’t felt like one of the disenfranchised?  I know I have.  Like Mr. Springsteen, I grew up Catholic, and found that my own ability to even have faith has been repeatedly shaken by not just organized religion but by the whole world as well.   As a result, I have been very skeptical of art that deals with faith, and like Mr. Springsteen,  the dream that mine will ultimately be rewarded is powerfully connected to my most intimate of yearnings.

So, when I had heard that Catherine Bush had completed a new adaptation of Walking Across Egypt,  which is a great story (and its author, Clyde Edgerton, is a writer whose work is on par with Springsteen’s in my opinion) I immediately began working to put together a production here at Parkway Playhouse.

It turns out the work wasn’t that hard;  the cast for this show Alesa Bryant, McKenzie Pauley, Doug Shaw, Lynn McKinney, Randal Garland, Rob Storrs, Steve Elderbrock, and Caleb Grindstaff have have brought both gentle humor and their own individual and deeply felt  humanity to this story, which is a simple story about what it means to have faith in both yourself and others.

Steven Grindstaff, who directed this show, was the first person I gave Catherine’s script too.  Steve, to me is the embodiment of good faith.  He exudes it out of every pore and his optimism and good will burns brightly (like a certain symbolic lamp seen in the play) , and inspires others- his students, the kids he works with at Higgins Memorial Methodist Chruch, his family, and his friends.    His insight into this story has brought about a production that I thnk does what good theatre does best- which is to help us rediscover and remind us of the good parts within ourselves.    I have found my faith rewarded by this simple story that is being so honestly told.  I hope you and your family will too.

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Walking Across Egypt Actor Spotlight – Carole Lynn McKinney as Alora Swanson

DSC_5689+-+Version+2“Finner!  Get your hands off the cornbread.  Mattie’s tryin’ to say the blessin’!” – Alora Swanson
Pictured Left to Right: Caleb Grindstaff, Alesa Bryant, Doug Shaw, Carole Lynn McKinney (photo by Rob Storrs)

Q: Why did you audition for Walking Across Egypt?

CLM: I’m writing a romance novel that revolves around characters who perform in and support a community theater that is about to be re-zoned right out of existence and replaced by a mega-store.  I got stuck midway through the book and decided I needed to do some research so maybe I could get it going again and give more life and verisimilitude to the characters.  Anticipating that I might get a minor part, probably in a non-speaking role, I auditioned – and I was astonished and delighted to land the challenging role of Alora Swanson in Walking Across Egypt.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

CLM: Being encouraged to explore the parts of my character that are least like myself is both a challenge and an adventure.  My favorite moment has to be one of those: when the director encouraged me to have Alora come on to another character, a stranger, while he’s trying to have a normal conversation with her and their hostess.  I’m very retiring and shy when it comes to that in real life, so it meant I had to cut loose and take a scary risk.  The stage manager was standing in for the other actor at the time, and when I invaded his space by stages, the expression on his face was priceless.  I kept on keeping on until he was nearly ready to fall out of his chair to get away from Alora, then I ran my fingertip around his earlobe and I think he nearly swallowed his tongue.   The startled and half-terrified look on his face was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Q: What is your favorite line from the show? Why?

CLM: I have several.  My favorite line of mine is “No I wasn’t!” when Alora is told, as a very unsubtle hint, that she was just about to leave. It’s marvelously, unthinkingly rude and belligerent, and she’s so self-centered in that moment, she has no idea how inappropriate she’s being.  It’s fun to let that part of yourself have free rein to come out – you get to say the things you’ve always wanted to say instead of being polite.  But my absolute favorite line in the show has to be Mattie’s “Please don’t go away…. Angry…?” BL delivers that line so brilliantly, with so much helplessness and tender emotion.  I wouldn’t have had any idea how to do what she does there, and I love seeing it done. And nobody can thunder “Holy crap!” like Doug….

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

CLM: Lots!  I think they will be surprised to see the flirtatious and forward side of Alora; I don’t express things that in real life very often.  I also think some of them will possibly be somewhat surprised to see a peer actually do it – a lot of my co-workers have said “I always wanted to try out for the Parkway Playhouse, but…!”  Well, here I am, living the dream, and finding out both the pros and the cons of it.  It’s been a great life experience, and one I wouldn’t trade for much.  I would encourage anyone to give it a shot, though ideally they wouldn’t want to land a role with lots of lines during the busiest grading season of the year, the way I did!

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

CLM: Does Ewan McGregor count as a classic?  If so, him.  And if I could be onstage with him, I’d want to do a scene that has us sing a duet and then kiss: Sister Sarah to his Sky Masterson?  Hey.  A girl’s gotta dream.  😉

Seriously, though. I won’t say I’d love to act with Branagh or some such.  Those sorts of actors have me totally outclassed. I admire them enormously, but they’d scare me to death. If I couldn’t choose a romantic role, I’d love to have a chance to work with some of the screen comedians I think are geniuses, people like Bill Murray, Madeline Kahn, John Candy (so sadly lost, but never forgotten), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, or the guys from Monty Python.  I love comedic actors who do broad, a little exaggerated, physical and emotional comedy with a lot of heart and some smarts, comedy that doesn’t just rely on fart jokes and fat jokes for a cheap laugh.  I think my own natural talents are strongest in that direction.

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A Flex What?

This season at Parkway Playhouse, we’re offering variety when it comes to season passes:

6-show Season Subscription
6-show Flex Pass
4-show Flex Pass

So, we know a “Season Subscription” is pretty self explanatory (you get one ticket for each show), but we understand that “Flex Pass” may mystify some.  Does the pass do yoga?

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No… but what it it can do is be redeemed for any show.  Pretend you’ve already purchased a 6-Show Flex Pass,  and say you really want to see Walking to Egypt  twice but will be out of town during The King and I.  Great!  Easy!  Just use two of your Flex Passes for Walking Across Egypt  and it’s all taken care of.

OR let’s say you want to take a friend to see Ghost Riders… no problem.  Just reserve your two tickets through Vendini or the Box Office and use two of your Flex Passes.*

ImageThis is why a 4-Show Flex Pass can make such a great gift (like for Mother’s Day or Graduation).  It would allow the recipient to attend 4 shows during the season… OR it would allow them to take a friend to two shows.  The recipient could even take three friends to one show.

Click here for a printable form to make giving a gift easy.  (Just mail in the completed form with payment or stop by the now-open box office.)

Redeeming Your Flex Pass or Season Tickets through Vendini may seem complicated, but really it’s not.  (Our box office is open to process such requests too, if you’d rather not fool with the computer.  Just call (828) 682-4285.)

*How to Redeem a Flex Pass or Season Ticket Online (once you’ve already purchased them)

  1. Visit http://www.parkwayplayhouse.com
  2. Click on the play you want to see and on that page, click the “Tickets” button.
  3. Choose the day you’d like to see the play.
  4. Choose your seats and click OK.
  5. Choose “Redeem Benefits” on the bottom right hand side of the screen.  You don’t need to fill in all that information, because your information has already been entered when you purchased your Season Tickets or Flex Passes.
  6. Then you may either enter your Member ID (which you will receive) or the email address associated with your already purchased Flex Pass or Season Ticket.
  7. It will call up your information and ask you if you want to redeem them for that particular show.  Click the button at the bottom of the screen to confirm!
  8. Voila!  You may pick up your tickets at the box office.  (No fees, no nothing.)

Pretty easy, right?  The only catch at this point is… have you purchased your season tickets yet?  Click here to do so.  If you are getting these as a gift, call the box office at (828) 682-4285 or click here.

Please Note:  While Flex Passes are offered all season long, Season Subscriptions are only available through May 10.  Purchase yours today!

 

 

An Inside Look at Walking Across Egypt Rehearsal

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“Holy crap! Good thing I ordered these night vision [binocular lenses]. He’s prolly out there right now, on the perimeter, waiting to strike”- Walking Across Egypt
In the picture: Doug Shaw as Finner Swanson (left) and Lynne McKinney (right)

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We are getting some good laughs during rehearsal.
In the picture: Alesa Bryant as Mattie Rigsby (left) and McKenzie Pauley (right)

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Put your hands up! Things are getting serious in rehearsal!

Visit the show page for a full cast list.

Performances:

*Saturday May 10th, 7:30pm
Sunday May 11th, 3:00pm
Friday May 16th, 7:30pm
Saturday May 17th, 7:30pm
Sunday May 18th, 3:00pm
Friday May 23rd, 7:30pm
*A lot of hard work and dedication goes into opening a show – and once a show opens, we celebrate!  This year, we’re excited to announce that after all of the opening night performances, the audience is invited to stay and celebrate the show’s opening with the cast and crew.   Cheers!
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What’s New for 2014

We’re doing several things a little differently this year to make your experience more enjoyable and we wanted to let you know about the changes before the season started.

Image#1 – Sunday Matinees at 3pm

We think this time will work much better.  You can go to church (or not), eat out for lunch, and then come right over for the show.  Or it’d be really easy to go out afterwards, too.  Meet a friend at the show and then have dinner together to discuss how the play spoke to you.

#2 – Opening Nights are on SATURDAYS (And there’s a PARTY!)

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into opening a show – and once a show opens, we celebrate!  This year, we’re excited to announce that after all of the opening night performances, the audience is invited to stay and celebrate the show’s opening with the cast and crew.   Cheers!

#3 – No More Thursday Shows

If you think about the days, here’s how they’ll look.

  • First Weekend = Saturday Opening Night Celebration & Sunday Matinee
  • Second Weekend = Friday, Saturday & Sunday Matinee
  • Third Weekend = Friday & Saturday*

The exceptions to this are Walking Across Egypt which will only have a Friday performance in the 3rd weekend and A Midsummer Night’s Dream which will only run 2 weekends.  (And FYI, Walking Across Egypt  doesn’t take place in Egypt–it’s set in North Carolina.)

Vendini Screenshot of Seats Taken

Another possible trend you may want to be aware of (that other theatres are seeing) is early booking.  In the past, it’s been relatively easy to get a good seat at Parkway Playhouse if you walk up to the box office hours before the show.  But that might be changing.  With the purchase of season tickets and the ease of reserving seats online (or with a smart phone), you may need to act early to get the seats you want.  Each show this season already has seats reserved!

 www.parkwayplayhouse.com  or call the box office (828) 682-4285

Parkway Playhouse Work Day

WORK DAY SQUARE

Where: Parkway Playhouse
(202 Green Mountain Drive)
Date: April 5th
Time: 10:00am-3:00pm
Wear: Clothes that can get dirty
Bring: Packed lunch

 

 

It’s that time of year again.  The weather is getting warmer, which means it’s time to get the playhouse ready to open for business.  Between organizing costumes, cleaning up props, garden landscaping, and adding a little paint where needed (to name a few tasks), there is plenty to do and WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Participate in the Parkway Playhouse Work Day and not only will you be supporting local theatre, but everyone attending will receive one (1) free ticket to see the first show of the 2014 Parkway Playhouse Mainstage Season: Walking Across Egypt!

For more information, please call 828.682.4285 or email info@parkwayplayhouse.com.