Actor Spotlight: Karen Covington-Yow (with a cameo by Mike)

Karen is yet another major contributor to the talented vocal abilities of the cast of Bonnie & Clyde.  You may remember her from Little Shop of Horrors last summer, but might not have realized it was her playing Clyde’s mother thanks to the powers of transformation given to costuming and make-up.
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PP:  Do you have a favorite scene or song in this show? 

Karen:  My favorite song/scene in the show is when we get to sing “God’s Arms Are Always Open.”  It’s my favorite because we really take the audience to church.  I love looking out into the audience and seeing their faces during that scene, and even hear a few Amens at the end!  And, of course, it’s always a challenge when the audience tries to clap along because a lot of people clap on 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4 (and our Music Director Sarah Fowler has been known to kill people for that)!  And I get to hear my hubby, Mike Yow, wail up there as the preacher (with a little James Brown thrown in).  How can I not love that?

PP:  What is your favorite prop?

My favorite prop is the chicken that Young Clyde shoots during the prologue.  I have named her Priscilla, and she looks like she’s seen better days!  I feel a little sorry for her that she has such a short life.
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Levi Bradford (lighting and sound designer) displays the bedraggled Pricilla, though the real “props” for the chicken go to Prop Designer Robby Taylor.

PP:  We often ask the Parkway Playhouse Junior performers if they’ve made any new friends during rehearsals, but the same would go for you–especially in a large-cast musical. So, have you made any new friends?

Karen:  Of course I have made new friends!  That is definitely the best part of theatre!  I truly cherish every friendship I have made through the theatre, and since I have moved a lot in my life, it has proven to be a quick way to get a whole new group of friends. That’s how I met my husband Mike! I am also grateful that I got to work with old friends in this show both onstage and behind the scenes, including Annelise, Trissa, Dwight, Sarah, Luke, Misty, Sandy, Jessica, Dakota, Levi, and Bruce.

PP:  Got anything else to add, Mike?

My favorite musical number is also Gods Arms Always Open, mainly because I get to sing pretty at first and get all “soul-ful” at the end. And I usually don’t like my own musical numbers as much as everyone else’s, so this may be saying a lot. Also, I’ve not worked with many of the cast-members of this show prior, so it’s been great making new friends and contacts. Furthermore, I’m getting to share the stage with my sweet and talented spouse, Karen.

As a couple, Karen and Mike also have a notorious reputation for being in great theatre productions!  Make it your mission to hunt them down.

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Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Showtimes the next two weekends are as follows:

  • Friday, July 14 @ 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, July 15 @ 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, July 16 @ 3pm
  • Friday, July 21 @ 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, July 22 @ 7:30 pm

The Accidental Texas Ranger: Ric Cedergren

You’ve heard of The Accidental Tourist, but Ric became the accidental actor this spring. He took his son (Leif) to open auditions, (and because he’s such a nice guy) ended up reading lines to just to help others try out… so got cast as Frank Hamer!

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Ric & Leif backstage where Leif has signed the wall (door) from his previous productions as a part of an old Parkway Playhouse tradition.

PP:  What have you learned about yourself as a performer preparing for this show?

Ric:  I have a fairly small, yet important role, as retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. Hamer is the the man hired to bring in Clyde dead or alive.  My personality is confident, but not usually so commanding. I also never imagined myself performing as a Pentecostal choir member in a choreographed dance routine.  I think I have learned to let go a little.  My response to these challenges is, in the words of Frank Hamer:   “I was hired to do a job. Let’s go get ‘em.”   

PP:  What is your favorite rehearsal moment?

Ric: Learning from failure.  When I missed a cue on my first entrance at a tech week rehearsal, I momentarily was in a kind of shock, not knowing what to do.  Then I heard Lily Bartleson (Ma Ferguson) yell, “Hamer!”  It was like a perfectly placed slap to the face. I immediately knew what to do next.

PP: If we’re not mistaken, this is the first time you’ve been in a show here AND the first time you’ve been in a show with your son.  How has that experience been? Do you recommend it for other parents/children?

I do recommend this experience. We always have something to talk about which is sometimes a challenge for parents and teenagers.  We both love the music and the challenge of performing.  Technically,  I have no formal training in acting though I come from a very musical family and grew up around the theatre. My father was lead in many musical theatre productions.

I may be following in Randall Garland’s footsteps. It was just a few years ago that Randall followed his son Gabe into an audition.  Randall does a great job playing a local Sheriff. We have a scene where we stare each other down of which I hope to get a picture.

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

Dwight Chiles is a director who works expertly with creativity and talent. It has made this experience a privilege. I love watching so many of the actors and actresses that I knew as students.  It is an honor to be in “their world,”  and to see them working so passionately and professionally. I have also enjoyed getting to know many of the professionals who have given me the opportunity to see how a production like this comes together backstage.

PP:  What do you think audiences will enjoy about the musical?

This is a truly unique musical.  I have never seen anything like it.  I never expected to be part of anything this big when I accepted my role.  The singing in this play is fantastic.  

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You will also want to be a part of something this BIG!

Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Showtimes the next two weekends are as follows:

  • Friday, July 14 @ 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, July 15 @ 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, July 16 @ 3pm
  • Friday, July 21 @ 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, July 22 @ 7:30 pm

Actor Spotlight: Briar Boggs as Clyde

As Briar is new to the Parkway Playhouse stage we had to ask him all the “get to know you” questions… and turns out, he’s no stranger to the stage, though he is new here.  Of course, if you happened to catch the show last weekend, it was probably pretty obvious he knew what he was doing.

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PP: Where are you from? Where have you studied?

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, where I spent most of my childhood doing non-theatre related activities; such as, playing sports all year long and taking every opportunity I could to relax and play video games with my friends. It wasn’t until high school that I took interest in theatre and decided that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I went on to spend the first two years of my collegiate training at The Florida School of the Arts, where I performed in multiple mainstage productions; such as Les Miserables, Anatomy of Gray, Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet), The Addams Family, and The Mousetrap.

After that, I transferred to Western Carolina University to pursue my BFA in Acting and spent the past year being a part of some pretty amazing productions! During my junior year, I had the opportunity to be in the casts of In The Soundless Awe, a New Work co-written by our Stage& Screen Director, Jayme McGhan; King Lear, where I acted alongside leading Shakespearean actor Dennis Krausnick; and HAIR, where I got to work with Annelise (Bonnie) for the first time and Tony – Nominated Actor Terrence Mann, who directed the show; as well as working on my very first short film, Around & Around. So I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited for my senior year at Western and all the awesome opportunities that I have left in my collegiate career.

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PP: Do you have a favorite scene or song in this show? Why is it your favorite?

Since this show is packed with so many great moments and beautiful music, this particular question is pretty hard to answer. But if I had to pick, my favorite moment/scene would have to be last one in the play with Annelise and I because you realize how much our characters have changed since the very beginning of the show when they met.

They go from two kids, who have all these dreams and aspirations to young glorified gangsters, who commit crimes and kill people if they have to. Even Bonnie & Clyde themselves realize this evolution because they share a moment of acceptance for their fate as we fade out. It’s truly a beautiful moment and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

As far as my favorite song is concerned, I would have to go with the song I serenade Bonnie with near the end of Act 2 called “Bonnie” because of how slow, pretty, and non – musical theatre the song is. Now as much as I enjoy a good show tune, there has to be a time where I can listen to “every day” kind of music, when I’m going on a run or sitting in my car driving down the highway. And finally, I found that song that gives me both elements and that I can sing at karaoke if I ever feel the urge to be romantic without anyone ever knowing that it is from a musical.

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PP: Did you do additional research about the two, or did you rely more heavily for character development on the actual script?

I did a bit of both actually. Now of course, you really want to do Bonnie & Clyde justice by giving historic accuracy to their characters and to do that, you need to do a ton of research. The moment that I found that I was cast as Clyde, I did everything I could to prepare; I read articles, fun facts, and even watched the original 1967 film and several other film adaptations of the infamous pair. To be able to portray a historical figure is kind of a dream come true for me as an actor because I consider myself a history buff and learning every bit of information about Bonne &Clyde was so fascinating to the extent that all I did was talk about their lives to my friends and family for a couple months.

Now on the other hand, it’s always important to make sure that your take on a character is as different as possible from how others played it, which means you have to find places in the script that you personally can relate to and make it your own. That is why I always find it interesting to see other people play a role because in some moments of the show, where you didn’t have much of a reaction could become something super beautiful, simply because a new actor had a different approach. So all in all, it’s about finding a balance between doing your own unique thing but also not losing the history that we all know and love.

PP:  What do you think audiences will like about Bonnie & Clyde?

All I can really say is that this show is very under the radar. From the music and the characters and the story, you get nothing but quality. This show has romance, action, drama, and suspense all wrapped up into one. I mean who doesn’t love the thought of watching a show about the most notorious young couple in history while also listening to them sing along to rock, gospel, and blues influenced music?

But to be honest, the greatest thing about this particular production is the rest of the cast and creative team; they are the ones who really make this show worth a visit. Dwight Chiles, our director, has done an amazing job by choosing the right group of people to bring this production to life. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you Annelise (Bonnie), Luke (Buck), Christine (Blanche), and the rest of the cast is going to bring you joy, laughter, and tears during your time seeing this show. So if you want to purge all your emotions in one night, this show is definitely for you!

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You have five more chances to catch this amazing cast bring the story of Bonnie & Clyde to life.

Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Actor Spotlight: Olivia Hughes as a Younger Bonnie Parker

Olivia is one of those homegrown talents who has taken advantage of every opportunity at Parkway Playhouse: as a student performer in Parkway Playhouse Junior, as a summer apprentice working both behind the scenes and onstage, and as a mainstage performer.

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PP:  What are the differences between Junior and Mainstage productions for you? 

Olivia:  One thing I have always loved about being in Mainstage shows is watching and working with the professionals. I have found that this makes me push myself and hold myself to higher standards than usual. However, in Junior productions, I have been given more opportunities to play lead roles in musicals than I have on the Mainstage. As one of the “big kids” in these shows, I am someone that the younger students are watching, so it’s a weird switch from when I am one of the youngest actors in the mainstage shows. Sadly, this is my last year with Parkway Playhouose Jr. as I am a rising senior, but I am so thankful for the past six years with this program and everything it has taught me!

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PP: Since you are playing a younger version of Annelise, what have you done to be her? Have you tried adopting any of her mannerisms or inflections? 

50bccde47f981e9911477c2fb401f61d-bonnie-parker-bonnie-clydeOlivia:  I play fifteen year old Bonnie, so I play her a little brattier than Annelise does, but her dreams of fame were a major part of her identity even before then. I mainly try to portray Bonnie to be a headstrong and determined woman as Annelise seems to do so flawlessly.

As far as mannerisms go, I didn’t intentionally pick up on any. However, in a recent rehearsal I was watching a scene for the first time and noticed something she did and thought, “I do that when I’m singing in Picture Show at the beginning!” It’s a very Clara Bow type of pose, so maybe we both drew our inspiration from that.

You too will be inspired by the incredible music, voices, and talent on the stage during this show! Make plans to see it today.

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Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Actor Spotlight: Lily Bartleson

Not only does Lily Bartleson play two roles in Bonnie & Clyde (Trish and Governor Ferguson), you may recognize her friendly voice and bright smile when you stop by the Box Office or call to buy tickets this summer!

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PP: Do you have a favorite scene or song in this show?

Lily: I have a favorite scene and a favorite song. My favorite scene would have to be the first beauty parlor scene. Very humorous – a good look into the relationship of Blanche and Buck, as well as a sense of who her friend’s are (sassy and judgemental, but ridiculously funny). My favorite song, that I have recently fallen in love with, is Bonnie’s song, “How ‘Bout a Dance?” This is a very intimate song; however, those of us who are almost ready to make something of ourselves and find our place in this world (specifically in this industry) can relate. Some want to be known through fame, passion and drive. That’s what Bonnie wanted, too.

PP:  What do you think audiences will enjoy about the musical?

Lily:  This musical takes a magnifying glass on the two most notoriously known criminals during the 1930s. This isn’t just about stealing money or committing crimes. This story is about the life of those who suffered through the dust bowl and how they survived. The true story of real people making it through real events.

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So, call Lily in the Box Office and get a ticket to this amazing show: 828.682.4285 or purchase tickets ONLINE.

Bonnie & Clyde opens on Saturday, July 8 at 7:30pm and is followed by the traditional Opening Night Party.  Sunday’s 3pm performance is followed by a short opportunity to ask questions of the actors!

From the Director of Bonnie & Clyde: Dwight Chiles

Dwight may be a familiar face at Parkway Playhouse, but not one you’ll see during Bonnie & Clyde… unless you spot him in the audience with you. This time, you see, he’s directing the show instead of starring in it.

PP: Rumor has it you’ve been wanting to see this show done here, specifically, for a while… Is that true?

Dwight: The rumors are true! Ever since I walked into Parkway Playhouse for the first time, during Romeo and Juliet, I wanted to be a part of Bonnie & Clyde in this theatre. Four years ago I assumed I would be a part of the cast if Bonnie & Clyde was ever selected for the season, but now I am so glad to be given the opportunity to bring this show to life as its director. The theatre itself is what inspired me to bring this show to Parkway and being able to see the images and ideas from my imagination come to life on stage has been a dream come true.

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Dwight Chiles as Valentine Coverly in the 2015 Production of Arcadia (photo by Rob Storrs)

PP:  This is your first time directing at Parkway Playhouse, but you’ve appeared in several shows over the years (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Arcadia). What’s it like in this new role?

Dwight:  I have had the opportunity of being involved in some of my favorite shows as an actor at Parkway, including Midsummer Night’s Dream and Arcadia among others. Taking on the new role of Director at Parkway has been a wonderful experience. Kristen and the staff have all been incredibly helpful and such an easy team to create with.

Usually when I direct, I also take on many other roles including set designer/carpenter/scenic artist….the list goes on.  But having this dedicated staff also working on this show, I have been able to focus on only directing and it has been so rewarding. The cast! This has been one of the most talented group of actors I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Everyone, across the board, is really putting their all into this production and it has been such a joy to lead this group of artists.

PP:  So, has anything surprised you about directing this show?

Dwight: The thing that has surprised me most rehearsing this musical is how excited and motivated the cast has been to do research about the characters they are portraying. In the beginning of rehearsals I told the cast they have the opportunity to step into the shoes of real people from history and there is a world of resources at their fingertips to help bring these characters to life.

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We have found incredible details about these peoples lives such as Bonnie never went without her iconic red lipstick and that Clyde always took his shoes off before he drove because he thought it made him closer to the car and he would drive better. Little details that the audience is going to be able to enjoy at the theatre each night.

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Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Bonnie & Clyde, our first musical of the summer, opens on Saturday, July 8 at 7:30pm and is followed by the traditional Opening Night Party.  Sunday’s 3pm performance is followed by a short opportunity to ask questions of the actors!

A New Face as an Old Favorite: Annelise Henry as Bonnie

Not only does Annelise bring a new face to the Parkway Playhouse stage, she brings a beautiful new voice. Trust us, if copyright laws didn’t prevent us from giving you a sneak “listen,” we would provide clips as proof. You’ll just have to come hear her for yourself. What we can do, though, is help you get to know her a little better…
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PP: We’re thrilled to welcome you to Burnsville, and like all small town front porches, we have to ask: So… where are you from? Where do you study theatre?

Annelise: I am originally from Jacksonville, North Carolina where I studied voice under Catharine Koonce and Charles Coakley. I also studied dance at Dance Theatre of Jacksonville for ten years, where I was on a competition dance team. During my senior year of high school I began taking dance again at South Eastern Dance Academy in Wilmington, North Carolina. During high school, I was able to play “Annie” in Annie, “Princess Fiona” in Shrek the Musical, and “Gabriella” in High School Musical: the Musical.

This is my first time performing at Parkway, but I have worked hard to get myself into the theatre world here in Western North Carolina! I am a BFA Musical Theatre Major and Dance Minor at Western Carolina University, so most recently I have been working on mainstage productions through the university. During my Sophomore year, I played “Shira” in Resident Alien, which is a new musical written by our previous Musical Theatre program head, Katya Stanislavskaya. I was also a part of the “Tribe” in Hair directed by Terrence Mann. Briar (Clyde) was also a part of the “Tribe”, so we really got to know each other before the show even started!

PP: When you found out you’d been cast as Bonnie, did you do a lot of research into the real life Bonnie, or did you just rely on what was in the script and bringing that to life?

9781471134029-usAnnelise:  This cast and creative team has done so much research to make this show possible. When Briar and I found out that we were going to be playing Bonnie and Clyde we were constantly texting each other back and forth with little tidbits of information that we would read. Most of my personal research came from reading the book Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn, which is basically a biography of Bonnie and Clyde’s life before and after they met each other.
          I also watched the Bonnie and Clyde original movie, and HBO series on Netflix! This cast has been great about sharing the information that they have learned with each other, and we have a Facebook group where we post our findings. We want this show to touch our audience, but we also want for it to be historically accurate.
          After reading so much about Bonnie, I have fallen in love with her story. I feel obligated to not let her down, and portray her story as accurately as possible. Her biggest dream in life was to be famous for her poetry, acting, and singing. Imagine how she might feel knowing that there is now a musical written about her! 

PP: How has it been working with this cast? 

Annelise:  This cast has been a complete joy to work with. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and this experience has been extremely refreshing. When Briar and I found out that we were going to be working together, we ironically weren’t really that close of friends. These past couple of months we have basically become attached at the hip, and have really gained the trust in each other that it takes to play these roles. There is a lot of ice cream and late night line-running behind what the audience will see onstage!
          Briar is an incredibly talented actor, and I find more comfort in singing on stage. Briar enjoys the scene work, and I enjoy the music. We balance each other out well, and push each other where the other one is weak which creates a really great on-stage chemistry between the two of us.
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I have also had the pleasure of working with Christine and Luke, who are absolutely hysterical in this show. They constantly keep rehearsals light-hearted and fun, and I love the scenes where Bonnie, Clyde, Buck, and Blanche are all together. I have also enjoyed getting to work with Trissa and Karen, after previously working with them in Seussical at ACT. Our director, Dwight Chiles, has been so incredibly supportive and has walked with me through this whole process. His patience with me as I figured out who Bonnie was has been remarkable.
          This cast is so talented that I leave rehearsals some nights completely overwhelmed by how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing artists. I can’t wait for there to finally be an audience to see the magic!

PP: We know you haven’t gotten through tech week yet, but you’ve enjoyed working at Parkway Playhouse?

Annelise:  One of my favorite things about acting at Parkway Playhouse is the atmosphere that the theatre has. Parkway is such a gem in these Western North Carolina mountains, and I am so happy that I get to make art here.
      One of my favorite things to do during rehearsal when I’m not needed on stage is to walk backstage and see all of the signatures written on the walls. There are signatures that date back to the 60’s and 70’s. Seeing everything that actors before me have written on the walls is so incredibly humbling, and makes me feel like I am a part of something so much bigger than myself.

So, let’s show Annelise the greatest part of acting at Parkway Playhouse: the incredible audiences!

Call 828.682.4285 to purchase tickets or get them ONLINE.

Bonnie & Clyde, our first musical of the summer, opens on Saturday, July 8 at 7:30pm and is followed by the traditional Opening Night Party.  Sunday’s 3pm performance is followed by a short opportunity to ask questions of the actors!