ACT’s Response to Racial Injustice

Dear Friends,
I wanted to write to you today to share ACT’s statement on racial injustice. We will be posting this statement across our social media platforms today:
# # #
Black lives matter, Black stories matter, Black art matters.
We stand together with the Black artists, volunteers, collaborators and creators with whom we work, and the entire Black community. We grieve the continued violence against the Black community and mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade and the many other people of color who have wrongfully lost their lives. We recognize that the Black community faces and has faced repeated injustices due to the systemic racism that permeates every aspect of our country.
As a theatre, we are in process of reflecting on the ways in which we contribute to the injustices in our community and society, and we are identifying the actions that we can take to evolve fully into an organization that truly centers diversity, inclusion, equity and kindness. Black lives matter, Black stories matter, Black art matters. We will work to be better allies.
# # #
I want to acknowledge that this statement does not contain any specific action steps. We have serious work to do in the next days, weeks, and months to envision, create, and collaborate on a plan for which we can be held accountable. This work at ACT has already begun and is ongoing. We need to be thoughtful about this complex and complicated work, and we need to put in the time that it will take to be a truly diverse, inclusive and equitable organization.
With gratitude,
Susan Harper, Executive Director

ACT’s Response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Updated: March 17, 2020
Asheville Community Theatre will be closed for the foreseeable future. We are unable to know when we will be able to reopen. It is our intention to reschedule any upcoming event; we also understand that this may not be possible.
Here’s what we do know:

All performances, rehearsals, classes, auditions, volunteer trainings, and any other activity scheduled to take place in the ACT building from now until May 1, 2020 have been cancelled.
We will reassess as time moves forward and we have more knowledge about when it will be safe to be in large or small groups together
We already cannot wait until that next jubilant gathering!

During this time, our staff will be working remotely. You can reach any of us through email – so don’t be a stranger!
We are also working on ways to bring you interesting, fun, and creative content. Because when life gives us lemons, you know we’re going to turn those into Lemons! The Musical!
With love,
The Staff of ACT
We will communicate any changes to you via e-mail as well as through updates to our website and social media pages (Facebook and Twitter).

If you have tickets to a performance scheduled between now and May 1, 2020, our Box Office staff will contact you directly – either by email or phone – over the next week to ask your preference regarding your purchase.
We ask for your patience as we navigate this process.
With your purchase, you may choose to:

hold your ticket to exchange until future dates are known (Little Women only)
donate your ticket purchase to the theatre as a tax-deductible donation OR
request a refund for your ticket purchase

If you are financially able, we invite you to donate your ticket purchase. As you can imagine, this will be devastating for arts organizations who rely on ticket sales to stay afloat. Your donation will help ACT to weather this unfathomable storm and be ready to reopen when we’re able to be back together again.
Note to ACT Subscribers: You will receive a specific email regarding your Flex Pass Tickets for Little Women.

If your child is currently enrolled in Frozen Jr. or Peter Pan or in Youth Acting, Youth …

Cast List: Little Women

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who auditioned! We had 133 people at auditions, and could have cast this show many times over. We’re so excited that so many people are eager to tell this story! Here is the cast list for Little Women:
Meg … Casey Clennon
Jo … Virginia Riggsbee
Beth … Justine Gottschalk
Amy … Ellsworth Sullivan
Hannah … Jan Robbins
Marmee … Samantha Gonzalez-Block
Aunt March … Susan Yeatman
Mrs. Gardener … Leslie Lang
Sallie Gardener … Morgan Scarborough
Annie Moffat … Katie Parsons
Belle Moffat … Kirana Kuic
Theodore Lawrence … Maxwell Roberts
John Brooke … Dillon Giles
Mr. March … Tod Leaven

Announcing our 75th Mainstage Season!

We are SO excited to announce our 75th Mainstage season! Tickets and subscriptions will go on sale later in the spring, but we wanted you to have the first look at what’s coming up next!
We’ll also be announcing Mainstage directors and audition dates, student matinees, 35below shows, the Readers Theatre Showcase season and more a little later – so keep your eyes peeled for all the ways you can plug in at Asheville Community Theatre!
Book by Thomas Meehan; Music by Charles Strouse; Lyrics by Martin Charnin
October 2-25, 2020
Times are tough, spirits are low, and the world is in dire need of hope. Enter, stage left: a delightful underdog — Annie, a cute, yet mischievously feisty little girl. She takes on the world and, with an equal share of moxie and music, unlocks hearts and changes lives through kindness, love, and spirit. Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, Annie has become a worldwide phenomenon and was the winner of seven Tony Awards, and features some of the greatest musical theatre hits ever written, including “Tomorrow.”
Elf the Musical
Book by Thomas Meehan & Bob Martin; Music by Matthew Sklar; Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
December 4-20, 2020
When Buddy is an infant, he mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh realities that his father is on the naughty list and his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Based on the beloved holiday film, that proves that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.
Bright Star
Music, Book & Story by Steve Martin; Music, Lyrics & Story by Edie Brickell
February 5-28, 2021
Inspired by a true story and featuring the Tony-nominated score by Steve Martin and …

Remembering Susan Dillard

We are so sorry to share that our friend Susan Dillard passed away on Saturday, January 4. A memorial service is planned for the spring, and a date will be announced once it is known.
Thank you to Deborah Austin, her dear friend, for sharing these words about Susan’s lasting legacy in Texas and in Asheville’s theatre community: 
Susan Dillard created many memorable productions, roles, designs, magical creations and friendships in her 67 years. 50 years ago, during the summer she graduated from high school, she appeared as a Shark girl, Graziella, in ACT’s Asheville Youth Theatre production of West Side Story. In her Freshman year at UNC-Greensboro, Susan appeared as a magic spirit in Aladdin with other roles on and backstage to follow as she completed her B.A. in Theatre. Back in Asheville, she was Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew with the Montford Park Players before she left for graduate school in Minneapolis.
With a M.F.A. in directing, Susan called Texas home for 15 years where she worked with several theatre and opera companies. With Different Stages of Austin, she directed 12 productions including Talking With…, Light Up the Sky, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Titus Andronicus. As an actress, she appeared in Cloud Nine, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Secret Lives of the Sexists, and The Tavern.
In the late 1990s, Susan returned to Candler to care for her elderly parents. She directed Twelfth Night for MPP and appeared in the new amphitheater as Emilia in Othello. Susan created wonderful masks, headpieces, and Kudzu, a three-person caterpillar puppet, for The Biltmore Estate’s Biltmore Bugs, and masks, headpieces, and an amazing dragon for Tanglewood Youth Theatre productions of The Hobbit and Little Mermaid, Jr. She directed the ACT Mainstage productions of Twelve Angry Jurors and The Grapes of Wrath and in 35below, Betrayal and Misery. Susan designed costumes for the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre and was a dedicated volunteer in the ACT costume shop. Two months ago, she was a member of the team that built nine elf costumes for Miracle on 34th Street.

Miracle on 34th Street: Study Guide

You don’t have to be a teacher or student to enjoy the study guide that accompanies our production of Miracle on 34th Street! Read the history of the show, enjoy an exclusive interview with Director Candice Burchill, and find out how Props Designer Ezra Campbell finagled period toys, games, candy and more! Plus, who doesn’t love a good word search?

Cast List: Miracle on 34th Street

We’re so excited to share the cast list for our next Mainstage show! Congratulations to all who were cast, and a big thank you to everyone who auditioned. We wish we had enough roles for everyone who came out!
Paige Gorczynski … Susan Walker
John O’Neil … Dr. Pierce
James Vaughn … Kris Kringle
Jack Heinen … Shellhammer
Mary Ann Heinen … Judge Harper
Rachel Adams … Doris Walker
Gavin Brown … Fred Gayley
Daniel Walton … Sawyer
Tod Leaven … Johnny’s Parent/Finley
Ella Leaven … Elf J
Sarah Leggatt … Mara
Nora Leggatt … Elf Z
Laura Walton … Halloran
Reagan Angel … Sharon/Elf
Roman Hunt … Johnny/Elf
Sadie Medlock … Dutch Girl/Elf
Tatyana Underwood … Megan
Riley Oswald … Elf Q
Evan Oldenburg … Elf R
Ellsworth Sullivan … Elf W
Matthew Leggat … Drunken Santa/Duncan
Kevin Scarbourgh … Macy/Al
Judi Harvin … Rich Person/Lou
Frank Salvo … Bloomingdale
RoseLynn Katz … Bag Lady/Dutch Mother
Want to see the show? Get tickets and more info here:

Actor Spotlight: Courtney DeGennaro Robinson

Courtney DeGennaro Robinson makes her first appearance at ACT in Rabbit Hole. She has most recently appeared on stage as Grace in the off-Broadway production of Starbright, Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross, Sam Fried in Coyote on a Fence, and Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest. When not onstage, she is an avid knitter, bookworm, and baker of French macarons.
Name: Courtney DeGennaro Robinson
Character in Rabbit Hole: Becca
Occupation: Paralegal.
Hobbies and Interests: Baking French Macaroons, hiking, knitting, and reading
Why should you come and see a play like Rabbit Hole? The magic of the theatre allows us to experience lives outside our own as we invest in the characters onstage. This play, in particular, gives us a window into an experience that we all hope never to have. Rabbit Hole fosters empathy for those who are suffering, and reminds us that grief is not something that goes away neatly or quickly, nor is it a permanent state of being. There is always hope and light, and life, if we choose to find it.
What is the hardest part about playing your character? Becca has suffered an unbelievable loss, and she is in indescribable pain, but she doesn’t spend the entire play wailing and crying. It would be easier to just feel and release those emotions. Instead, I’ve had to generate that enormous sense of suffering and bury it just beneath the surface, so that it can eke out a bit when the circumstances of the show require it. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Can you name some of the major recurring emotions you felt throughout the rehearsal process for Rabbit Hole? As odd as it may sound, there was a lot of joy in the rehearsal process. My cast mates and I bonded quickly, and we share a lot of laughs backstage. This show requires a lot of vulnerability and intimacy, and we’ve really leaned into our trust for one another to balance the pain of the deep emotions we’re exploring with care and affection for one other. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to go through this process with.
What is, in your opinion, the most important moment in …

Actor Spotlight: Joann Johnson

For Joann Johnson, the theater was a big part of her life in middle school and high school. Her roles as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Lady in Waiting in the Princess and the Pea, and the Goblin Queen in the Princess and the Goblin Queen, helped influence her love for the arts. Mainly receiving smaller parts however, Joann moved onto other art pursuits when college came around. The journey through university was tumultuous, helping Joann decide to take a break to travel, work, and navigate adulthood. After a few years, Joann received clarity that she should pursue nursing school. While pre-nursing courses are arduous, Joann continues to study while working full time as a hostess at Chestnut in downtown Asheville. Joann decided to try out for Rabbit Hole after almost a decade of not doing theater. The role of Izzy felt like the perfect debut adult performance. 
Name: Joann Johnson
Character in Rabbit Hole: Izzy
Occupation: Hostess.
Hobbies and Interests: Hiking, yoga, biking, reading, writing and throwing events for my friends.
Why should you come and see a play like Rabbit Hole? Rabbit Hole is an authentic play that gives the audience a window into a home filled with the mixed emotions that families experience with loss. It has humor, sadness, dysfunction, and frustration that is relatable.
Can you name some of the major recurring emotions you felt throughout the rehearsal process for Rabbit Hole?  Humor, Joy, Sadness, Grief.
What about Rabbit Hole drew you to audition?  My character Izzy deals with pain through humor which I connect with. She is honest almost to a fault. I also have had my own experience with grief. Four years ago I gave my son up for adoption and I’ve been grappling with that grief in my own way the last few years.
Have you grown at all as a person, working on Rabbit Hole? I really feel like this play has helped me deal with my own grief and story in a deeper way. It’s brought me out of my shell in a creative and challenging way. Midway through the show’s rehearsals I also had a hard break up with my partner which was another loss …

Actor Spotlight: Jon Morrison

Jon Morrison is 23 years old and new to the Asheville area. This is his first play at ACT and he’s really grateful to be a part of it. He likes to watch movies and write. Earlier this year he performed in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure at Raleigh Little Theatre in Raleigh, NC.
Name: Jon Morrison
Character in Rabbit Hole: Jason Willette
Occupation: Delivering pizzas.
Hobbies and Interests: Watch movies, video games, write, sports, YouTube. Typical millennial stuff.
Why should you come and see a play like Rabbit Hole? Because it’s what we need right now. If we all took the time to understand each other and see that we’re all hurting in different ways, we’d spend less time fighting and more time growing.
What do you feel is the most important message of your character, and what can it teach other people? To be sincere. Jason sort of says/does what he feels without the filter of what society thinks is normal. It’s not corny to unironically express yourself.
What is the hardest part about playing your character? It’s easier/more fun to work with emotional extremes in acting. Jason is the opposite of that. It’s hard expressing emotions without being overt.
Have you grown at all as a person, working on Rabbit Hole? Of course. I’ve always dealt with grief the same way Becca does; by compartmentalizing. I’ve learned it’s healthier to face your demons head-on.
Have you struggled at all working on such a heavy and potentially sad play? If so, how were you able to remain positive? Yeah it was tough. The deeper we got into it the less fun it became. It slowly became an obligation just to get the story right which is what kept me motivated on the particularly rough days. Knowing that everyone goes through grief and that someone might take something away from the play on how to deal with it.
Can you describe what, in your opinion, the essence of Rabbit Hole is? Sometimes bad things happen that are nobody’s fault at all. You should spend your time learning, healing, growing instead of ignoring, hiding, and placing blame.
* * *
Jon, we hope we’ll keep seeing you on our stages and on other stages …