Spotlight on Dakota Whitehead

Dakota Whitehead has been in several shows this season already, not big parts, no… so only if you read the program closely might you have realized what a large contribution he makes in many performances at Parkway Playhouse. Yes, Parkway gives young performers a chance to act on stage, but it’s also giving Dakota a chance to gain valuable experience as a costumer.

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Dakota (left) and Hunter Taylor wait patiently during photo call for the rest of the actors to change costumes.

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

Dakota:  By far my favorite has to be the opening number: Footloose/On Any Sunday. Obviously this show is very dance heavy, and this number is definitely one of the biggest. It’s a great a way to start the show and to get the audience going. Also, as the costume designer, I had my work cut out for me making the cast go from crazy 80s to simple church clothes within the middle of the song in about 30 seconds.

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

Dakota:  I think audience will be surprised by how deep this show actually is. I think Footloose is one of those titles that people hear and they think it’s going to be big hair, shoulder pads, and dancing with a little bit of fluff for a plot line, but that’s really not the case. Every single character has a moment that deals with really personal issues that most people can relate to. The show is not only fun, but it gets really emotional. Every night I cry in the wings during a song that Vi (Roberta Whiteside) sings.

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Dakota gets a cup of coffee in the 2017 production of Bonnie & Clyde.

 

PP:  So you’ve done a lot of costuming at Parkway Playhouse last season and this one… What shows have you costumed?

In addition to Footloose, I have done costume work for Bonnie & Clyde, The 39 Steps, On Golden Pond, The Great Gatsby, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, Steel Magnolias, The Glass Menagerie, and RED. As well as multiple Parkway Playhouse Junior productions.

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PP:  Which were you the most pleased with? 

I used to always say The Great Gatsby was my best work, and nothing would ever top it, but honestly, Footloose has been my baby. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been obsessed with the 80s; the music, the dancing, the clothes, the hair and makeup, everything. So naturally I went into this show guns ablaze! I spent countless hours altering almost every single costume piece on stage by hand. I also started research for the exact year the show is set all the way back in January. Every costume in this show down to the hair and makeup is 100% accurate for 1984.

So come to one of the last two performances of Footloose with a greater appreciation for the attention to detail in the costumes. And be sure to congratulate Dakota after the show for all his work.

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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

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Actor Spotlight: Rachel Haimowitz

Need a little extra push, like Rachel? Well, consider yourself invited to one of the last two shows of Footloose!

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Rachel as Betty Blast (photo credit Chanse Simpson)

PP:  This is your first time on stage here… What prompted you to audition for Footloose?

I grew up to multiple songs in the movie soundtrack hitting the Billboard Top 100, so I adore this music–I feel it down to my soul. Plus I loved the movie. So when I heard Parkway Playhouse was doing Footloose, I was simultaneously thrilled and disappointed–thrilled because I literally cannot think of a single show I wanted to do more, and disappointed because I’m not a great dancer so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get in. Lucky for me, there are non-dancing roles!

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

Rachel:  I love the humor, and this is an especially funny show so I can’t narrow it down to one, but I’ll give you two: Holding Out for a Hero, about halfway through, becomes so funny (thanks in very large part to Julie’s amazing choreography) that even after having seen it over a dozen times I still laugh until I cry. And the song Mama Says, sung by the incomparable Hunter Taylor; the lyrics are pretty funny on their own but Hunter hands-down steals the show every time he’s on the stage and this song is his big solo, so he really shines. I literally cannot stop laughing at it, which means I can’t watch it from the wings anymore or the audience would hear me giggling back there.
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Rachel’s favorite part of the show…

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

Rachel: So many things. For one, the atmosphere is the most congenial, laid-back, yet down-to-business environment I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in. That comes from the top down–our director, music director, and choreographer are all amazing, creative, energized people who are also exceptionally kind and open to your vision as well as theirs. But it also comes from the cast–we all get along quite well, which is less common than you might think, especially in a semi-professional environment like Parkway. In addition to that, we’ve got a great rehearsal space in the Heritage Center, and an amazing performance space in the Parkway Playhouse itself. I come from community theater, so this is my first experience working at a house with a real budget, and that’s been a delight too–seeing how costumes in particular can come together when the actors don’t have to scrape them up from the depths of their closet.
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Rachel in her other role as Lulu Warnicker. 
PP:  What do you think audiences will enjoy about the musical?
Rachel:  Firstly, the music. I’m an 80s kid, so I grew up blasting this music on my stereo–and I still love the soundtrack to this day. The talent we have performing that music is astounding; everyone’s so good! The choreography’s energetic and fun, the live band rocks, the humor’s unexpected and absolutely everywhere . . . there’s so much to enjoy about this show I could go on forever about it.

PP:  So, how’d you find Parkway Playhouse? 

Rachel:  I moved here just over two years ago from central New Jersey, and–small world–our music director for this show also did community theater in Jersey and we’d run into each other before! I’m not an actor by trade (I’m a writer and editor, and I run an LGBTQ fiction press called Riptide Publishing), but I’m passionate about musical theater and have done a lot of it on the community level over the years. I was beyond thrilled to discover, after moving to Burnsville, that we have such an amazing theater right here in town!

 

And we’re beyond thrilled about more people passionate about musical theatre! Come see Rachel and the rest of this amazing cast in their final weekend.FOOTLOOSE BANNER

Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

 

Actor Spotlight: Mike Yow as Reverend Shaw Moore

Reverand Shaw Moore, though he may be easily pegged as the antagonist, is played by a favorite on the Parkway Playhouse stage: Mike Yow.

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PP: What do you think audiences will most like about this production of Footloose?

Mike:  In general, I expect that all audiences will love the choreography, the high energy, and even the heartfelt story behind the production. However, to those audience members who remembers the 80s in their roaring youth (like Yours Truly), this show will be a fun little trip down memory lane.

PP:  What do you relate to in your character?

Mike:  As someone who was very much like Ren in the 80s – I went dancing at least three nights a week for about four to five hours at a time – I can relate to Reverend Shaw Moore as the antagonist of what I once, more or less, stood for: freedom and artistic expression. Fortunately, as an actor, I’m truly blessed to be able to do that quite often. More on point, Reverend Shaw has some of my own beliefs and qualities, including the occasional desire to direct and help people, even if that might sometimes be unnecessary or unfounded. And I had some practice at being a preacher during Bonnie & Clyde too.
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Reverend Shaw (Mike Yow) and Vi (Roberta Whiteside) share a touching moment of forgiveness  in Footloose. 

PP:  You’re a professional actor, so do this all the time…. but did you learn anything about yourself as a performer during the rehearsal process?

Mike: I’ve learned more about my own methodology and techniques when preparing for a role, especially when going from the zany, quick-change farce that is The 39 Steps, then onto the soulfulness of a musical role in Bonnie & Clyde, and now with a deeper, more iconic role as Reverend Shaw in Footloose. I’ve made a semi-living off of having wide range as a thespian, but this summer has certainly furthered that notion for me. As such, I’m extremely grateful to Parkway Playhouse and my awesome cast-mates from these amazing productions.
And what an amazing production it is! You don’t want to miss it.
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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

Actor Spotlight: Olivia Morgan

Olivia loves musical theatre and she adores being on stage, but even though she’s been in many shows over the years, she always brings something new.  Let’s see how things have been going for her in Footloose.IMG_2168

PP: Do you have a favorite number in Footloose?

Olivia: “Mama Says” is probably my favorite number in the whole show. Hunter Taylor (who plays Williard) absolutely nails the spirit of that song. He’s so goofy and hilarious, and it’s such a entertaining and funny part of the show. Also, the guys who play back up singers for the song absolutely crack me up.
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PP:  What have you enjoyed about the rehearsal process leading up to opening weekend?

Olivia: My favorite rehearsal moments are when we finally get a hard dance move right that we’ve been practicing for hours. It’s such a rewarding moment, and it always shows you a glimpse of how good this show is truly gonna be.
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Olivia, top left, plays Urleen. (from “Somebody’s Eyes”)
 PP: Some of the others have admitted that songs get stuck in their head. What about you? Does anything get stuck on repeat for you?
Olivia:  “Almost Paradise” gets stuck in my head literally every night they perform it. It’s such an iconic song from the show, and I don’t think anyone backstage isn’t dancing or lip syncing right along with the song every time it’s being performed. Just thinking about it now has got it stuck in my head!
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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

Actor Spotlight: Myra McCoury as Rusty

As someone who loves to dance, this was one musical that Myra McCoury was not going to be a wallflower for!

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PP:  This is our most choreographed show of the season… How’s that been treating you?

Myra: As someone with a dance background, I have always known that this show was right up my alley. When I found out Parkway was doing the show, I immediately said to myself, “I have to dance in that,” and I have to say that the choreography has exceeded my expectations. Julie Gillum has done an incredible job (again). As far as my favorite routine from the show goes, I’d have to say “Holding Out For A Hero.” This number is so over-the- top (even for a musical) and is a mix of ballet, jazz, and so much more.

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PP: What has been your favorite rehearsal moment?

Myra:  When, for the first time, Bruce laughed at one of the more comical scenes of the show. When Bruce (a generally tough critic) laughs, you know you’ve done something right.

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Bruce as the ticket-writing officer.

PP: Do any of the song gets stuck in your head?

Myra: “Somebody’s Eyes” really gets stuck in my head, simply because my character, Rusty, as well as her two friends, Wendy Jo and Urleen, sing it so much. That’s not to say it isn’t a great song; in fact, it’s one of my favorite to sing in the show. It’s at once eerie and very reminiscent of those 80’s feels.

We’re sure you’ll love the 80s feel of this show, too. So make plans to see it–only two more weekends!

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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

from the Choreographer, Julie Becton Gillum

I have enjoyed my role as choreographer for a plethora musicals at Parkway Playhouse through the years and look forward to many more. Working with actors-in-training as well as more seasoned players is both exciting and challenging. During my time at Parkway I have witnessed an influx of talent as well as skill. At auditions there were many young “triple threats” (kids who can sing, dance, and act). I think credit should be given to the training offered by skilled theatre professionals teaching, acting, and directing in the WNC region. From high school drama programs to summer theatre camps (like Parkway’s), students have access to theatre as a practice and as a potential career option.

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Parkway Playhouse brings together a team of directors, community /professional actors, dancers, and musicians to create a lively production of “Footloose”. I think audiences will love this musical because it has a clear and simple message delivered through lots of energetic dancing and poignant moments with familiar and not so familiar music from the 80’s. How can you go wrong?!

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Choreographer, Julie Becton Gillum is in the center, wearing black; Musical Director, Ginger Haselden is seated on the far right; and Director Kristen Livengood is standing on the right during Sunday’s post-show discussion.  There will be another post-show opportunity for you to ask questions of the directors and actors Sunday, August 13.

I am excited to be working with familiar collaborators like musical director, Ginger Haselden, with whom I have worked often, both at the Playhouse and around the area. Kristen Livengood as director, has infused the cast and production team with clarity, organization, and vision. She is patient and relentless. Thank you Kristen, I will work with you again any time. I would also like to thank my dance captain, Samarie Wilson, who has helped to clarify, memorize, and drill the numerous, intricate, and confusing steps. I couldn’t have done it without you!

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Willard (Hunter Taylor) leads in “Mama Says”

Creating the choreography for all the pieces has been lots of fun. The actor /dancers have struggled with some of the movement, but everyone has been patient with practice and adjustments. I think the script and score are cleverly coordinated to tell the story, yet leave room for creative interpretation. I love the vaudeville style of “Mama Says” performed by the men. Other favorites are the campy “I Need A Hero” and teaching Willard how to dance in “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”.

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Rehearsals have been full of spontaneous energy. I appreciate that these actors are open to trying and perfecting new moves. Their willingness and persistence has kept me excited about the production.

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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.

Actor Spotlight: Carol Forbes

Everyone, including Carol, is singing their hearts out! Let’s catch up on some of her favorite parts of Footloose.

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PP: There are so many great songs in this show! Do you have a favorite?

Carol: My favorite song is Footloose because I enjoyed dancing to it as a teenager. My favorite scenes are the ones that I get to act in because that is the most fun. 

PP: Do any of the songs get stuck in your head?

Carol: Somebody’s Eyes gets stuck in my head because I know what it is like when people disapprove of your ways of doing things and how it can make you feel like you are under a microscope.

PP: Have you learned anything about yourself as a performer during the rehearsal process?

Carol: I have found that as a performer, I can push through difficulties better than when we first started rehearsing.

Come see the results of Carol’s hard work!

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Tickets are available by calling (828) 682-4285 or purchasing them online HERE.