Ghost Riders Actor Spotlight – Jenny Martin

photo1Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

JM: I played Sis in Leaving Iowa, Elizabeth in Pride and Predjudice, Catherine in Uncivil Union: The Battle of Burnsville, Fred’s wife in A Christmas Carol, and most recently, Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa. I also directed Seussical, Big River, and The Complete History of America: abridged.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

JM: I teach theatre at Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools to grades 6-8. We do one production a year, and I direct or act in about 2-3 shows per year at Parkway.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

JM: I knew pretty much everyone in this cast from previous shows. There are several cast members whom I taught at EY or CR which is fun; I like seeing them grow up and continue to be involved in theatre.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

JM: Laundry jokes during the camp scene.

Q: What is your favorite line from the show?

Not a line, but a moment.  I love the scene where Trinity (Malinda) gives her baby to her cousin. It’s very powerful and poignant–it takes quite a bit to make me cry, but I get very emotional when she does it; I always think about what it would’ve been like to give up my son at 6 months old.  Heartbreaking!

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

JM: When I was in 4th grade, I was in a play about the Civil War (ironically!) and was bitten by the bug.

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

JM: It has an all-star cast, is EXTREMELY well written and directed, and the technical elements are going to be awesome.  It’s fun, historical, and has something for everyone.

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

JM: He’s not really “classic,”  but as my students know, I’m a little obsessed with Hugh Jackman.  I think he is amazingly versatile, and also extremely attractive…

Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?

JM: It’s fun.  This is the second one of these I’ve done (the first was Uncivil Union) and I like watching the script evolve and change.

 

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Artistic Director Andrew Gall on Adapting Ghost Riders for the Stage

Gall_photoThe first time I met Sharyn McCrumb, I was nervous.  ( I am, at heart, an introvert and meeting new people can be daunting.)  However, my nervousness quickly abated when it became clear that Sharyn and I had similar interests:  history, folklore, good books, interesting stories that involve a tinge of the supernatural.   We are also both storytellers so- different mediums certainly- but a good story is a good story.  When I met Sharyn, it was to propose the idea of turning her Civil War themed novel, Ghost Riders  into a play.

A mutual friend of Sharyn and I suggested that I consider adapting Ghost Riders.  Once I read the book, it became clear why this would be a really adventerous project.  It would also be a huge artistic challenge.   The central action of the play follows a Civil War era  mountain couple, Keith and Malinda Blalock, down a dark path. (The novel follows some additional characters whose fortunes are altered by the war, but in order to avoid having 4-hour performances, I needed to be selective in what was dramatized.)   Their story is all the more compelling because it really happened, and it happened right here where we live.  In fact, while researching this production, I met a man who had an ancestor that was killed by Keith Blalock; an encounter that underlined how immediate this story really was.

In addition to the Blalock’s the play also focuses on three characters who are contemporary who are still feeling the reverberations of the violence and unhealed wounds left by the kind of fighting that took place in the mountains during the war- which was deeply personal and waged on a  house-to-house basis.  Having grown up in the Midwest, the Civil War is/was an admitted abstraction to me.  My great-great grandparents were not murdered by any vengeful bushwhackers, or conscripted in to the army.   In fact, I actually did try and find out about what my ancestors did do during the Civil War; which mirrors the arc of Spencer Arrowood, a fictional character that appears in a number of Sharyn’s stories and in the play.

There are many things that happen in Ghost Riders  that are painful to consider.  However, these experiences are a part of our regional and national identity.  Presenting the facts of the war may be the role of historians, but my role, as a story teller is to apply those facts to the human condition.  The results are worth consideration.  I don’t know how you will feel about this play and its characters.  However, if you feel anything, I will consider my job done and the story honored.

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How to Plan a Mountain Arts Weekend

The Toe River Arts Council‘s Studio Tour happens this weekend from June 6-8 and Parkway Playhouse opens a world premiere show, Ghost Riders based on Sharyn McCrumb’s novel.  It’s the perfect weekend to saturate yourself in the beautiful mountains and the arts.  Here are some simple steps to follow to have a great time… shamelessly featuring many of our sponsors.

Friday

Step 1 – Purchase tickets for Ghost Riders in advance so that you are certain to get the seats you want.  Call (828) 682-5664 or purchase online HERE.
 
Step 2 – Pack your bags for this weekend.  Call The Buck House Inn for reservations or check in with the Mitchell or Yancey County Chambers of Commerce for local B&Bs and accommodations.
Step 3 – Leave on Friday afternoon so you get to Spruce Pine in time for the Toe River Arts Council Gallery Public Reception at their downtown Gallery from 5-7pm.  (While you’re there, pick up your Studio Tour Guide/Map so you can plan the rest of your weekend… or get a jump start online HERE.)
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Optional Additional Step – Make reservations for one of the most amazing meals in Western North Carolina at knife & fork with award winning chef Nathan Allen or visit their brand new spoonbar on Upper Street.  (Brand new. As in, opened last week.)
Or, if you’re in a beer and pizza mood, Spruce Pine also features Dry County Brewery and Pizza.

Saturday 

Step 1 – Hit the road vising artist’s studios.  See potters, painters, weavers, jewelers, glass blowers, metal-workers… there are over 95 participating artists this year.
Galleries too, like One of a Kind Gallery in Micaville (halfway between Burnsville and Spruce Pine) and if you’re there, you must stop next door at The Ice Cream Deck!
One of a Kind Art Gallery
or The Design Gallery in downtown Burnsville…
or Mica Gallery in Bakersville

Step 3 – Feed your stomach and not just your eyes!

We might suggest, if you’re in Burnsville — Bubba’s Good Eats  or Garden Deli or Bootleg Sports Bar & Grill

Step 4 – Get ready for an evening of theatre at Parkway Playhouse.  You’ll get to meet the author of the novel, Sharyn McCrumb and the playwright who adapted the work for stage, Andrew Gall.

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Sunday

Rinse and Repeat.  The Studio Tour is still going on and there’s a 3 pm matinee showing of Ghost Riders.  (As Ms. McCrumb is very busy, she will only be attending the opening night event, so won’t be around on Sunday.)

Enjoy our mountain counties and our diverse arts!

Ghost Riders Actor Spotlight – Jered Shults

photo (1)Q:  Why did you audition for Ghost Riders?

JS: The prospect of the civil war, which is a very important part of American History has always interested me. Also the use of stage combat is one of my favorite parts of performance and this play uses a lot of it.

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

JS: I was in a staged adaptation of William Falkner’s As I Lay Dying at Catawba College, Huck Finn: a play with music at Catawba College, Wind in the Willows, and Chicago.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

JS: I spend my days working as a carpenter for Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater, and Parkway Playhouse, and then I rehearse or workout in the evenings.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

JS: Working on the fight scenes, and watching my fellow actors connect with their characters.

Q: What is your favorite line from the show?

JS: “It’s easier to start a war then finish one” Because I believe that line really sums up the play the Civil War was and still is one of the most defining moments in American History. Even though technically it’s over the reenactments and the way it has continued to influence America shows the truth and significance of that line.

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

JS: For the story that it tells and the way that it tells it. It’s an engaging, sobering story of the brutality of war and shows that even after the last gunshot has fired, its echoes and influence can still be heard and felt for years later.

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

JS: Laurence Olivier, he is truly one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen, and I think I could learn so much by just appearing on stage with him.

Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?

JS: It’s really wonderful. You get to be the first people to create something and know that even if it is revived later. that you were the first people to do it. It’s also really exciting to work on something brand new.

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Ghost Riders Actor Spotlight – Michael Lilly as Rattler

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pictured left to right – Michael Lilly as Rattler, Scott Keel as Keith, Trinity Smith as Malinda
(photo by Rob Storrs)

Q: Why did you audition for Ghost Riders?

ML: I liked the book.

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

ML: Been in 1776 (Franklin) and Big River (Pap Finn).

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

ML: I get up in the morning and put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else, then I make Award Winning Theatre.

Q: What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?

ML: Favorite rehearsal moment has been when Maggie Raincrow (Jenny Martin) asks me to pee in a jar! Yeah, that’s what I said!

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

ML: I’m so old EVERYONE has seen me onstage! Even naked in one show directed by Andrew Gall!

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

ML: My first acting experience was in Jr. HS in Raleigh. I was in a play called The Inexperienced Ghost with Randy Jones, the Original Cowboy in the Village People. We both forgot our lines and kept repeating, “My God, you are cold as Death”, over and over again until the Director yelled the right line from the audience. Randy said, “Yes, we know the line….who says it?”

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

ML: Ghost Riders is a new work and that is the future of theatre.

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

ML: If I could appear onstage with any actor or actress it would be Penelope Cruz….in that play where I was naked!

Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?

ML: I have worked on over 100 new works mostly as a Director. It is thrilling to be acting in Ghost Riders.

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Ghost Riders Actor Spotlight – Rob Storrs

photoQ: What shows might people have seen you in before (and not just at Parkway)?

RS: Walking Across Egypt, Dancing at Lughnasa, Romeo and Juliet, and Outlander at Parkway, The Giver and Our Town at TheatreUNCA, and The Nutcracker with the High Country Ballet.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

RS: After retirement, I drink coffee and take care of my 94yo mother in the morning, watch Braves baseball and hike in the woods with my dogs in the afternoon, either go to rehearsal at Parkway or drive over mountain to TN to see my sweetie/fiancée.

Q: Have you met new friends in the cast?

RS: Most of my circle of friends come from Parkway, with new members arriving with every production: from hops-tasting with microbrewer Doug Shaw, to discussing the virtues of fender rust with Bruce Chuvala, to nacho and script sampling at Bootlegs with Andrew Gall.

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

RS: Age 15. I went to an all-boy school, and had to hike up the road to the girls’ school because that’s where the theatre was. The play was The Importance of Being Earnest, and I thought I could do one of the butlers. To my surprise, I was cast as Jack Worthing, a lead. As I had never kissed a girl before, and the part called for an extended onstage smooch, I had to have kissing lessons with the cheerleader girl cast opposite me. I knew then that this was the kind of on-the-job training for me!

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

RS: LITERATURE – LOCAL – LAUGHTER – LOOMING. LITERATURE: Sharyn McCrumb has researched her novel with meticulous care, and written in a modern style, slipping time back and forth, until the characters have delivered all the information of the story in the order we need to hear it. Andrew Gall (as of this writing, as this is a new script in progress) has crafted a theatre piece that is actable and watchable that serves the novel well. LOCAL: This is the Civil War story told from a mountain perspective, both Union and rebel, both history-loving and re-enactor mocking. LAUGHTER: The spectator is let in on the local’s POV, laughing at each other and themselves. LOOMING: Realism vies with the supernatural in an effort to bring this war to an end — 150 years after Appomattox!

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

RS: I have ASM’d Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet, and he wrote a recommendation letter to my graduate school. In 1977, he told me his career goal was to be acting at age 70. But I would love to time travel to play a nameless lawyer in a scene with Charles Macklin’s Shylock. At the end of a long career, Macklin took that character and locked it down as his own. Maybe there’s a Shylock in my future before 70.

Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?

RS: It is titillating! Knowing where it came from in literature, knowing the region and the people (at least the descendants), working with talented artists that push you to do better — we are making a baby, here! Something no one has every seen before. We will be listed as the “Original Cast” in the published playbook. For better or worse, we are making history telling history.

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

RS: I love working in a venue where bankers, preachers, students, moms & dads & their children, teachers, factory workers, mail carriers, and, yes, ne’er-do-wells are valued and welcomed.

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Ghost Riders Actor Spotlight – Rose Ray

023Q: What shows might people have seen you in before?

RR: A Christmas Carol in 2012 as Scavenger.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

RR: I am retired but am involved in a LOT of things. I am probably just as busy as when I was gainfully employed. I belong to a knitting club, a book club, am in charge of Christian Education at FPCB, sing in the choir, work with collegians at App State, am in charge of 50/50 raffle tickets for PP.

Q: What is your favorite line from the show?

RR: “I swear, girls play dress up when they are little, but boys wait until they are forty” – though I think this line is being cut. It shows how much some get involved in re-enactment and the authenticity of those really into historical re-enactment and differences between women and men.

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

RR: I have always enjoyed doing what I call “little ditties” in our church. So it was on my bucket list to be in a play. If I must give an age, I would say this desire to be in a play started around 40 though I never had time to really do anything about it until now.

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

RR: It really puts forth some of the thinking of this region still today about the feelings between the south and north within families as well as close neighbors. Everyone should support Parkway Playhouse no matter what show.

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

RR: Audrey Hepburn because she was so classy in Moon River and Henry Fonda who was really ‘hot’ in Mr. Roberts.

Q: What is it like to work on a world premiere play?

RR: It is interesting to read the book and see the story line unfold in theater format.

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

RR: I really feel honored to be a part of this cast. I have learned so much about the history of this area.  It is interesting to me to me see the training for using weapons and how to fall. I am in awe at how the ghosts are depicted…how the illusions work.  It is simply amazing to see it all come together.

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