Executive Director

Jeff Bachar
Jeff Bachar joins Parkway Playhouse as the new Executive Director. He spent six years as ED with the WNC AIDS Project in Asheville and comes to the theatre with experience in strategic planning, management, development, and advocacy. Jeff utilized his masters in public health degree for the last 20 years working with organizations helping disenfranchised peoples. However, with a B.F. A. in theatre studies, he now returns to his first love—the theatre. And, in his own words, “a theatre person—with skills, cultivated over several years…to work collaboratively to enhance Parkway Playhouse’s position as a center of the community that brings people together and expands educational opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. This is a dream job for me that combines my theatre knowledge with extensive management experience.” Let the dream begin!


Kristen Livengood, Managing Director, Parkway PlayhouseOperations Manager

Kristen Livengood
Kristen Donelle Livengood is the Parkway Playhouse Operations Manager. She is also the Creator and Director of “Get the Hook”, Parkway Playhouse’s teen improv comedy troupe. Kristen enjoys teaching acting and improvisational comedy to students of all ages. Other interests include acting, improvisational comedy, singing, dancing, directing, and writing. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“I knew that I was interested in performances when, as a young child I could become completely engrossed by someone singing on television. I discovered I was passionate about theatre when I saw The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek for a class credit in college and was rendered so speechless after seeing what theatre could be, that I changed my major the next week. I’ve been obsessed ever since.” She lives in Asheville with her husband.


Education Coordinator

Mea Johnson
“I am originally from Mars Hill, but Burnsville has been calling my name since I was in high school. I transferred to Mountain Heritage, where I was introduced to the rich culture of this area. My teachers and mentors inspired me to pursue a career in History Education. I went to Appalachian State UniversiRoberta is spent three years in the education program. During my last semester of student teaching, I found that I preferred alternative methods of teaching. I then changed my major to a BS in History with a focus in Public Relations/Communications, and spent the rest of my time at App learning about Marketing and Social Media. After graduation,  I was fortunate enough to land an internship at Toe River Arts, which transformed into a part-time job as their Social Media Manager. My job there has given me the opportunity to meet with artists across the region, and help promote their talents through a mini-documentary series on Facebook called Inside the Studio.


Bruce Chuvala, Set Designer/Shop Manager, Parkway PlayhouseScenic Shop Supervisor

Bruce Chuvala
A man of few words, but diligent action.


Graphic Designer

Britt Kaufmann

Parkway Playhouse Junior Teaching Artists

Kristen Livengood
Kristen Livengood holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from UNC Greensboro where her focus was acting and directing.  Since then, she has discovered a love of performing and teaching improvisational comedy and has studied with Rick Andrews (Magnet Theatre), Holly Laurent (The Second City), and Chris Trew (The New Movement).  She has appeared onstage at Diana Wortham Theatre, Parkway Playhouse, Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, The Feichter Studio, and Asheville Community Theatre. Most recently, she directed The Music Man JR, James and the Giant Peach JR and Jungle Book KIDS for Parkway Playhouse Junior.  She is also the founder and director of Parkway Playhouse’s high school improv comedy troupe Get The Hook.

Jenny Martin
Jenny got her start in theatre at Burnsville Elementary School when she starred as a Southern woman in a Civil War play. After the theatre bug bit, continued to act in plays in middle and high school, and worked at the Parkway Playhouse through high school and college as an intern and staff member, from 1997-2003. She attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she attained her BFA degree in Theatre Education. She then returned to her roots, to teach theatre at both Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools, where she has been teaching 14 years.

Chelsea Thayer, interim Director of Education, Parkway PlayhougChelsa Wilson Thayer
“I consider myself both a teacher and an artist. Having completed my Masters’ degree at New York University in Educational Theater and having trained in London and Ireland with the foremost experts in the field I feel confident in my ability to use theater as a tool to both educate and engage students while enriching their lives. I believe in theater—its’ ability to transform a community, its’ power to enlighten and redefine. I believe my passion for the art form is apparent in my work.” She, her husband, Bryan, and three children live in Bakersville.


Erika Tyner
Erika has been working in the public school arena as a 6th grade Language Arts teacher for 12 years.  Growing up, Erika spent most of her free time in middle school and high school involved in the theater, being very active with her local community theater, attending Governor’s School for Drama, and creating a touring Children’s Theater in college.  After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Performance of Literature (with a focus on Children’s Literature), she got a job teaching drama to adults with disabilities in the nonprofit sector in Asheville.  She sought a Master’s Degree in Teaching Middle Grades Language Arts from Western Carolina University.  As an educator, Erika has been named Teacher of the Year for her county, awarded National Board Certification, participated in the NC Governor’s Teacher Network, and spent a year as an Educational Policy Fellow.

Roberta Whiteside
Roberta is a graduate of Appalachian State University where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance. She has worked with Yancey County Schools as Choral Director for Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools since 2001. Her students frequently make All-State Chorus for North Carolina. Roberta is well known in the community for her vocal stylings and has often been seen in Parkway Playhouse productions such as All Shook Up, Steele Magnolias, Little Shop of Horrors, and Seussical the Musical. She has been Music Director for such shows as Big River, NunSense and She Loves Me. Roberta is married to Rev. Bill Whiteside and serves as church musician at Vians Valley Presbyterian church, where her husband is pastor.

Board of Directors


Jen Russ

Vice President

Myna Stephens


Beth Gatts


Deena Bingham


Wendy Calkins

Jimette Cook

Larry Hunt

Steve North

Wanda Proffitt

Gary Ray

Charles Rose

Doug Shaw

Directors Emeritus

Bruce Chuvala

Becky Gillespie

Gil Rowe