Actor Spotlight: Kelsey Simmons

Kelsey Simmons is not only making her ACT debut, she’s making her theatrical debut! She’s a rising senior at UNCC, an accomplished model, and an incredibly hard worker. She plays Ally, a student who’s hoping to transfer to Hofstra, but is spending the last days of summer tackling 5 different parts in Bob’s play. Ally is smart, gets inspiration from the world around her, and is a lot of fun. Which also sounds a lot like Kelsey to us!
Name: Kelsey Simmons
Occupation: Waitress
Age: 20
Hometown: Asheville
Little known fact about you: I also like to do hair.
Years involved in theatre: 1. This is my first show!
We’re so excited that this is your ACT debut. What was it about this play that made you come out to audition? I’m really interested in acting and I was looking for a place where I could get more experience – a place where someone wasn’t expecting me to already be a professional. I wanted the full experience of being in a play; having set rehearsal schedules, getting notes from the director. I thought this would be a place where I could learn.
Person or people you gain inspiration from: My grandma, Michelle Obama, and Barbara Jordan
Would you be friends with your character in real life? Yes
* * *
Kelsey, we hope we’ll keep seeing you on our stages and on other stages around town in the future! If you’d like to catch Kelsey’s debut in The Groundling, get tickets here.

Actor Spotlight: Haven Volpe

Another actor making his ACT Mainstage debut is Haven Volpe.  He just finished starring in Robin Hood at Montford Park Players, where more than 6,000 people enjoyed him in the role of Will Scarlett, one of Robin’s Merry Men. In The Groundling, Haven plays Pete, a neighbor who’s been hired by Bob to answer phones and compose music for his office phone system. Pete has never been in a play before (though he would take you to Phantom of the Opera RIGHT NOW he loves it so much), but he’s playing Bob in the play Bob has written.
Name: Haven Volpe
Occupation: Part-Time Student/Salesman/Professional Actor
Age: 16
Hometown: Asheville, Land of the Sky
Years involved in theatre: 14. Been acting since my debut role in preschool: Chicken Little, y’all!
You’ve been involved in theatre for your entire life, basically! What was your first experience at ACT? I was a student at ArtSpace Charter School throughout most of elementary and middle school. I actually received the Rinnie Rocks Scholarship in seventh grade there. It was a full scholarship to Tanglewood Youth Theatre’s Summer Camp and so my first ACT experience was as a youth summer camper.
Oh my gosh! That scholarship is named in memory of Rinnie Hopkins, who was also an ArtSpace student, and who came to summer camp for years. How thrilling that you’ve continued to be involved in theatre, not just at ACT, but all over town. I can’t complain. I love the theatre. I’d do every show in town if I could!
You work with Montford Park Players quite a bit. How different is Pete from some of the past characters you’ve played? Has playing this role been a stretch for you? A stretch? Yeah, I guess you could say that. As an actor, I feel considerably more comfortable onstage in a doublet than a t-shirt! I think modern theatre is a little different from what I’m used to, the character of Pete included. It’s a lot different playing what could be a real, current person. It can end up bring much more personal. At Montford, you’re acting Shakespeare outside in front of upwards of 5 or 6 hundred people. It’s a little less personal and definitely …

Actor Spotlight: Mandy Bean

The fierce, funny, and fabulous Mandy Bean is back onstage at ACT! You’ve seen her as Jeannie in The Great American Trailer Park Musical or perhaps in Snowbound or Nuncrackers. Or, if you’re a Montford Park Players aficionado (and if you’re not, you should be!), you’ve seen her in Othello, Julius Caesar, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In The Groundling, Mandy plays Victoria, the actress who stuns Bob with her ability to listen and react when he sees her onstage. He hires her to help him put on the play he has written – and though she’s not used to working in a garage in Long Island, she takes the job.
(Photo by William Zane Lawrence)
Name: Mandy Bean
Occupation: Stay at home mom
Hometown: Weaverville
Years involved in theatre: 20
How did you become involved in theatre? I started out as a dancer when I was very young, and I fell in love with Mary Martin’s Peter Pan as a toddler. I was always the first to volunteer to read anything out loud in class, and I remember desperately wanting to be in plays, but there was never an opportunity to do so. I didn’t actually find an outlet to start acting until high school, but the drive to be onstage has been there for as long as I can remember.
Who’s the favorite character you’ve played? It’s hard to choose, but the one that comes to mind is Emilia in Othello. She has one of the best monologues of any woman in Shakespeare, and it felt amazing to deliver that.
Can you relate with your character? In some ways, absolutely. I do a lot of Shakespeare, and there are some aspects to Victoria that are really familiar to me. I relate to Victoria’s love of acting, and her frustration over not always being able to find work.
Do you have a favorite moment in the show? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but when she first arrives and interacts with Dodd is a fun one, especially with Scott Keel. We’ve been friends for a decade, and it’s always fun to be onstage with old friends!
Do you have a dream role? There are a few (and I’ve already performed some, …

Cast List for Avenue Q

So excited to share our cast list for next season’s opener of Avenue Q! Thank you to EVERYONE who came out for the auditions – we had an amazing turnout of so many talented people! Drumroll, please:
Ariel Casale – Gary Coleman
Andy Thompson – Rod
Ness Nowik* – Christmas Eve
Chelsey Mirheli – Lucy
William Ezzell* – Trekkie
Matt Edwardsen* – Nicky
Leif Brodersen – Brian
Matthew Harper – Princeton
Lara Hollaway* – Kate
Christy Montesdeoca – Ensemble
Marci Bernstein* – Ensemble
*Denotes actor is making their ACT Mainstage debut

Actor Spotlight: Daniel Sandoval

This August on the Mainstage, Asheville Community Theatre will present the NC premiere of The Groundling by Marc Palmieri, a play about the ups and downs of marriage and relationships.
About the show: After stumbling upon an outdoor production of a Shakespeare play in Manhattan, Long Island landscaper Bob Malone returns home inspired to write a play about his troubled marriage. He hires two reluctant New York theatre professionals to spend a week at his home and stage the play in his garage, with a cast of colorful locals. A modern romantic comedy with a moving and unexpected ending.
This production includes a small cast of seven community members working diligently and closely together to bring this show to life with the gentleness and care it deserves. Four of the cast members are making their ACT Mainstage debuts – and three are returning to our stage! ACT has asked The Groundling cast to submit some personal and not so personal answers to some of our most burning questions.
To kick things off let’s give a big welcome to ACT newcomer Daniel Sandoval! He’s a native Long Islander – who just happens to be playing Bob Malone, also from Long Island!
Name: Daniel Sandoval  
Role: Bob Malone   
Hometown: Long Island, NY    
Occupation: Mechatronics Engineer
OK, What’s that? Great question – in short, I like to say “Daniel makes machines dance for a living.” Mechatronics is a portmanteau of Mechanical and Electrical, and basically the term used for people who design machine automation systems. Here’s a great example (skip to 3:00 of the video) for the really cool part:

That was a very unusual job. I literally was living in Radio City Music Hall for a week and a half getting all the bugs out of that system. Most of what I do is for factories – like automobile assembly lines.
(For a really detailed description of Daniel’s brilliant creativity in engineering the motion control system for the bus that carried 35 Rockettes, read this!)
What appealed to you about this show?  I totally know these people. I think I’d be friends with my character in real life. We’d have a beer together now and then.
How you became involved in theatre: …

The 2018-19 Season in 35below

In 35below, ACT asks for proposals for shows from local producers, directors, and writers. We received more proposals to produce shows in 35below than ever before, and we are crushed that we don’t have enough weekends to present all that was proposed. We’ve chosen a slate of hilarious, experimental, or challenging (or sometimes all three!) shows to present next season in our tiny, intimate space:
September 7-23, 2018
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball
Produced by: UNC Asheville’s Alpha Psi Omega (APO) Drama Honors Society
Directed by: Missy Sullivan
November 2-18, 2018
The Man in the Bright Nightgown by Tom Huey
Produced by: Occasional Theatre
Directed by: Brenda Lilly
November 30-December 8, 2018
Left Behind-Reflection by Monica McDaniel
Produced by: Winnies Child Productions
Directed by: Monica McDaniel
December 12-16, 2018
TBD
Produced by: Tom Chalmers
Directed by: Josh Batenhorst
January 11-27, 2019
Nunsense-A-Men by Dan Goggin
Produced and directed by: Sarah Fowler
March 8-24, 2019
Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by: Ellipsis Theater Company
Directed by: TBA
April 5-21, 2019
An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and David O’Hare
Produced by: Rarely Theatre
Directed by: Trinity Smith-Keel
May 10-26, 2019
Speech & Debate by Stephen Karam
Produced by: Attic Salt Theatre Company
Directed by: Jeff Catanese
August 9-25, 2019
Love, Linda (The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter) with Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Book by Stevie Holland with Gary William Friedman
Produced and directed by: Misty Theisen

Cast List for The Groundling

So excited for this show! Thank you to everyone who came out and auditioned. Announcing the cast for the NC Premiere of The Groundling:
Bob Malone – Daniel Sandoval*
Karen Malone – Jenni Robinson
Frank – Ralph Redpath
Dodd – Scott Keel*
Victoria – Mandy Bean
Pete – Haven Kai Volpe*
Ally – Kelsey Simmons*
* Denotes that actor is making their ACT Mainstage debut

Cast List for The Full Monty

Announcing the cast for Asheville Community Theatre’s production of The Full Monty:
THE MEN
Jerry Lukowski ……………….……..………..….… Corey Link
Nathan Lukowski ………………….….…. Evan Oldenburg
Dave Bukatinsky ……………..…………..…… Michael Crosa
Malcolm MacGregor ……………….…….. Andy Thompson
Ethan Girard………………………….…….…..….… Nick Biggs*
Harold Nichols …………………..….…….….…..… Mark Jones
Noah Simmons ………………………………………Elijah York*
Buddy “Keno” Walsh …………….…………….Asa Gardiner*
Teddy Slaughter ………………….……….……. Adam Lentini
THE WOMEN
Georgie Bukatinsky …………………………… Cassie Marcelo
Vicki Nichols ……………….…..……….… Patricia Birnbaum*
Jeanette Burmeister .………..………..……..…. Melissa Stone
Pam Lukowski…………………………..…………. Karyn Panek
Estelle [weeks 1-3-4]…….….………. Stephanie Marzoula
SUPPORTING CHORUS ROLES
Reg Willoughby…………………..….………… Scott Cameron
Tony Giordano ……………..…..…………… Todd Oldenburg
Marty …………………………….……………..…… Bruce Smith*
Gary …………………………………………….……. Bob Johnson*
Eugene ……………………………………….……. Eugene Jones*
Susan ……………………….……………..……… Linda Pannullo
Estelle on week 2 / Chorus …………….Tina Pisano-Foor
* Asterisk beside actor names denotes the first time in an ACT Mainstage production

Announcing our 73rd Mainstage Season!

Drumroll, please! Here’s what’s playing on our Mainstage next season! We’ll announce Mainstage directors and audition dates, plus Tanglewood Youth Theatre classes, student matinees, Readers Theatre Showcase and more a little later – but mark your calendars for this excellent season!
Avenue Q
Music and Lyrics by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez * Book by Jeff Whitty
October 5-28, 2018
Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt, and packed with heart. This puppet-filled musical comedy follows a group of twenty-somethings seeking their purpose in big-city life. Recent college grad Princeton moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. Princeton and his new-found friends struggle with issues of sex, love, unemployment, identity, and finding their purpose in life. It’s highly possible that audiences will leave the theatre having completely identified with another human … or a puppet. Winner of the 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score.
Snowbound
By Tom Godleski
November 30-December 16, 2018
A revival of 2016’s premiere of this holiday family crowd-pleaser! It’s Christmas Eve in 1955 at a small town train depot where the snowy weather has caused some delays. Over the course of the evening, strangers become friends, friends become family, and the warmth of human connection is deepened through stories and songs. Though the weather outside is frightful, inside the depot it’s delightful as memories of Christmases past are shared. Written by local storyteller and musician Tom Godleski and performed with original music and traditional songs by local bluegrass musicians.
Footloose
Music and Lyrics by Dean Pitchford, Tom Snow and Kenny Loggins
February 8 – March 3, 2019
When teenager Ren McCormack moves from Chicago to a small town, he isn’t prepared for the stifling local laws, including a ban on dancing and rock music instituted by the local preacher. As he struggles to fit in, he encourages his classmates to defy the local pastor and call for a rock’n’roll prom. With an energetic Top 40 score amplified with dynamic new songs, Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with an open mind and a warm heart. A musical version of the …

The Diary of Anne Frank: Study Guide

When we offer a performance for local school groups, we always create a study guide for teachers and students to read through before they attend. But you know what? You don’t have to be a teacher or student to enjoy it – and we guarantee you’ll learn something new! Take a look!