The show entitled 4000 Miles runs June 3-5 and 10-12. HCT, formerly Hendersonville Little Theatre, is at 229 S. Washington St. near Kanuga Street and downtown Hendersonville.
Jim Walker directs the 90-minute dramatic comedy, which Amy Herzog wrote. It ran Off-Broadway in 2011-12, and was a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist.
Young Leo (Thomas Young) closes a “tragic” cycling trek with best friend Micah, by staying with Leo’s grandmother Vera (Jackie Collison) in her New York City apartment. “After suffering a major loss while he was on a cross-country bike trip, 21-year-old Leo seeks solace from his feisty, 91-year-old grandmother Vera,” publisher Samuel French, Inc. states online. Over a month, they “infuriate, bewilder and ultimately reach each other.” HCT adds that Leo learns about Vera’s “life, her loves and his own complicated relationship with his girlfriend. It’s a lovely story with plenty of humor, drama, and real-life situations.”
Rising East Henderson High School senior Bristol portrays “Bec,” Leo’s girlfriend. On June 10, the role goes to understudy Veronica Brown. Eli Rogers plays Leo’s other girlfriend, Amanda.
“Bec was very hard for me to make a connection with,” Bristol told The Tribune. “She’s a bit strung-out, very nervous, and uses moderate cussing.”
Still, she said, “it was her reactions that I found myself connecting to most. When she is interacting with Leo, she knows what she wants. But she’s very apprehensive towards making decisions. At times she seems very blunt but then ponders her decisions. I find myself doing that, sometimes. Often I feel so sure of something, that I begin to question if I’m too sure.”
Her prior HCT role was as Beth March, in Little Women in late 2014.
Bristol also creates characters as a model, such as in Hatchett Creative Group’s Catching Dreams: A Bohemian Show last summer. It was in the historic Masonic Temple in Asheville, in the upstairs theater with century-old tapestries as a backdrop. Crystals adorned the runway.
She wore Charles Josef’s flamboyant, sun-colored and flowing gown. “When I wore that vibrant dress, I felt as though I needed to be just as strong as the color itself was.” Also, she said, the high-low skirt of the dress added a little sass to the runway.”
She observed that “in modeling or acting, I love to find the persona of either the character or the outfit. Every time I step into costume or am meeting with a designer, I like to feel the aura. When I’m dressed up, it’s easier to take on a different role than to just be Blakeley Bristol.”
Bristol is uniquely among a handful of area teens in Asheville fashion shows. Yet on the runway, she shows tremendous poise. She is adept at moving fluidly, holding a pose and staying in character and focused as well as veteran models. “When I am on stage and the lights are on me, I can’t even see the audience,” she said. “I keep my head high, and walk down the runway like no one is watching.”
For festivities with friends last Halloween, she dressed as a “conservative Victoria’s Secret Angel” as she puts it. She wore white wings. She assured “no worries — no lingerie involved.” Thus in such ways she can look beyond her years, yet retain youthful innocence.
Beth Davis Bristol, Blakeley’s mother, is among parents who supervise their children when they model. Beth has also acted. She has volunteered hours for some fashion shows. For instance, she was about the last one helping clean up after the Bohemian show. “She wants to help,” Blakeley said, proudly.
“Having my mother around with me at the theatre or at fashion events makes me work even harder,” Blakeley said. “I love making her proud. She’s very supportive.”
Bristol is a team player. She is among a dozen on East’s Dance Team. Their intricate modern dance routines are at some football and basketball halftimes. “I love dance team,” Bristol said. Coach Margaret Stone is “fantastic. She pushes us to be our best. We are a very close team. That’s why we dance so well together. We support each other like family…Everyone has ‘got your back.’”
She dances with Relevè Performing Arts Center, of Hendersonville, in various styles. “Competitive dancing was probably the highlight of my life,” she said. “I learned a lot from those many years of traveling, and competing with my best friends. We learned to do a complete costume and hair change in two minutes. We pushed through to dance. Even when going all day, and loving to nap where it isn’t covered in glitter and smells like hairspray.”
In sports, the 5-foot-6 redhead is a volleyball outside-middle “hitter,” smashing spikes.
Perhaps most importantly, Blakeley Bristol leads and is a role model. She was junior class president, and Key Club V.P. The honors student has a 4.6 weighted GPA.
She eyes a career as a pediatrician since “I love working with kids,” and a minor in theater or fashion merchandising. This summer, she will be in Wake Forest’s Summer Medical Immersion Program.
She and dozens of other school leaders dedicated Good Friday, March 25, to culminate of HopeRx’s week-long We Are Hope cause against drug and alcohol abuse. They rallied at the Historic Courthouse, after signing pledges to remain substance-free.
Availability of illicit drugs is “easy” enough for youths looking for it in the community, Bristol told The Tribune. But so is standing up against them, and following her own path in social circles. “I don’t find partying (with alcohol or drugs) to be a very popular thing to do at East,” she said of closer friends. “Of course, there are some people that do party. But, honestly, people (who don’t) just look past it. We’re all friends and we are here to support each other — no matter what.”
The HCT website cautions about “some adult language and simulated drug use” in 4000 Miles.
HCT’s Second Stage is in its Event Center, behind the main theater, with unobstructed views from elevated three-quarter round seating.
The play 4000 Miles is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday June 3 and 10, and Saturday June 4 and 11. Matinees start 2 p.m. Sunday, June 5 and 12. Tickets($15) include a pre-show reception at HCT, with goodies by Rene Styron and staff.
Auditions for Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical Oliver! based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist are at HCT June 25 at noon for ages 7-12, and June 27-28 at 7 p.m. for other roles.
For more on HCT’s season or to buy tickets, call 692-1082 or check hendersonvilletheatre.org.