The Voices of Old Gods of Appalachia
We are tremendously grateful to the talented group of actors who help us bring many of our characters to life!
Stephanie Hickling Beckman
Voice of Granny Underwood
Stephanie Hickling Beckman (Merlin) has been attached to a theatre in one way or another over the last 24 years. Though she is proud to say that she has worked with most of the theatre companies in Western North Carolina, as an actor or director, Stephanie has lent her voice to several projects including recurring gigs with “In The Moment” as a screen actor as well as a voice actor.
Over the last 11 years, she has devoted most of her time to Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective, as the Company’s Managing Artistic Director. (Headshot by Spags Photography.)
Voice of Waylon Boggs
Brandon Bentley was born and raised in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and studied Musical Theatre at Emory & Henry College. Brandon currently resides in Cincinnati, OH, with his partners and dog. He has been seen on many stages across Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Kentucky and always looks forward to sharing an amazing story with his audience.
Dr. Ray Christian
Voices of Brother Bartholomew & Franklin Moses
Dr. Raymond Christian is a retired US Army paratrooper who grew up on the poverty-ridden streets of Richmond, VA. The son of illiterate parents, his love for the written word sparked his dreams of a different life and led to many adventures, including seeming impossible educational achievements and life as an amateur farmer and professional family-man.
During his time as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University, his most popular courses were “The Souls of Black Folks: An Examination of African American Social Culture” and “Storytelling: Life in the Narrative,” which explored historic and contemporary uses of storytelling and oral history in America.
Ray’s stories have appeared in Readers Digest’s Best Stories in America (2016) and American Hero’s (2017) editions. He was selected as the 2017 Serenbe France Focus Storytelling Fellow (Atlanta, GA) and his stories have been featured on NPR radio shows such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment, and Backstory as well as the Risk podcast, among many others. As a competitive storyteller, Ray is a ten-time Moth Story Slam Champion, and winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. Sharing his stories across the US and Canada, Ray has made several appearances on Moth Mainstage, The National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place (2019) , and was part of the 2018 tour of Snap Judgment Live!
In 2018, Ray has been named as the best known story teller in the south by Bitter Southerner magazine. Glynn Washington, host and producer of Snap Judgement, calls him “a storyteller’s storyteller.” He is distinguished for his exceptional accomplishments as a performer and spoken word performer and his training and experience as an educator and motivator.
Ray is currently the producer and host of What’s Ray Saying, a podcast that utilizes history , storytelling and commentary to provide a unique perspective on the African American cultural experience.
Méabh de Brún
Voice of Granny Joan Bentley
Méabh de Brún is an award-winning Irish actor, playwright and writer specializing in weird tales and ghostly happenings. She is currently performing in The Silt Verses, Omen and The Secret of Saint Kilda. More information about her work can be found at meabhdebrun.org.
Corey Ryan Forrester
Voice of Jerry Brotherton
"The Buttercream Dream" Corey Ryan Forrester is a comedian, author, actor, producer, and host of The WellRED Podcast. He is currently touring on The WellRED Comedy Tour w/ Trae Crowder (The Liberal Redneck) and Drew Morgan.
Together, the WellRED comics authored the book The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Dragging Dixie Outta The Dark, which debuted at #1 on Amazon in both comedy and politics and was listed as one of Splitsiders' Top 10 Comedy Books of 2016 alongside the likes of Mel Brooks, Trevor Noah, Doug Stanhope, Will Forte, Amy Schumer, Norm Macdonald, and more. The group's comedy album WellRED: Live From Lexington debuted at #2 on iTunes.
Corey is currently working with ABC Studios on the development of a sitcom with his co-writers and touring partners, Trae Crowder and Drew Morgan.
Voice of Nina Jennings
Shasparay Irvin is a Black, queer, performing artist from Austin, Texas, with a B.S in Theatre and a Minor in African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2018 they were the 10th Ranked Poet in the World.
She was a recipient of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Full Tuition Scholarship, a speaker at the 2016 TEDxYouth Austin conference and is a National NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medalist. Shasparay has been a finalist in national and regional slam competitions such as Women of the World Poetry Slam, Southern Fried Poetry Slam, Texas Grand Slam and is the two-time Lip Stick Wars Poetry Slam Champion. Shasparay has been featured on Button Poetry, Youth Speaks, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post.
Voices of Mercy Boggs-Carter, Merrilee Cook & Verna Teasley
Aliya Johnson was born, and raised in the foothills of Northwest Georgia, and spent partial summers in the Lowcountry of coastal South Carolina. She studied Theatre and Performance Arts at Kennesaw State University before opening Flour Child Cakery with her family shortly after her 21st birthday.
One fateful Halloween, the most handsome hillbilly she had ever seen came in for brownies, and soon they shared a first kiss under a shooting star. After dedicating 10 years to the business, she decided to retire from cake decorating, and focus on her family that now included a husband, and beautiful daughter. She found her happy place on 5 acres of paradise tucked away in the woods of Temple, Georgia. There she toiled away at art commissions, and delved into her love for the dark and spooky.
It was there that the darkness reached out, and led her to a fascinating, and creepy new podcast called Old Gods of Appalachia. Almost as if there was a whisper in her ear, she knew she had to be a part of it, in any way she could. Possibly with the help of some ancient primal force, she found herself doing voice work in the world of the Old Gods. Now, between voice and art work, she spends her time studying foraging, herbalism, antiquated crafts, and any other hobby that holds the promise of helping her undergo her metamorphosis into a Granny Witch.
Voice of Pretty Polly Barrow
Tracey Johnston-Crum has been a professional actor for over half of her life and has had the pleasure of making a career, and an actual living, at her craft both nationally and internationally. Originally from the mountains of western North Carolina,Tracey returned home to Asheville after her years in New York City to raise her son Max. A true fan of the show already, Tracey is exceedingly honored to join the cast of Old Gods of Appalachia to celebrate and share the rich history and deep magic of these hills.
Voice of Lucas Frazier
Matt Krieg is an actor, singer, and artist from Wilder, KY. He studied acting at Northern Kentucky University and is primarily a stage actor around Cincinnati OH, though he has always enjoyed creating and sharing art in many various forms.
Historical Consultant, Voice of Rosemary McCoy
Ashe Loper is a poet, outdoor educator, and slightly feral prairie mutt who currently resides in central Oklahoma. Her poetry draws inspiration from the natural world, the human condition, and all the equal measures of brutality and softness that exist in between.
Ashe’s poems have received several collegiate awards and are published in L'Éphémère Review, Persephone’s Daughters, and Words Dance Publishing. Her work in outdoor education began at Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma, then expanded to Bodie Island Lighthouse in North Carolina, and most recently, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
Ashe utilizes her enthusiasm for nature and history, combined with her storytelling talents, to help people build effective emotional and physical connections to natural and cultural resources. Her favorite hobbies, when not writing or dirt-worshiping, include gardening, puppetry, sleeping, reading, and divination.
Voice of The Railroad Man
Yuri Lowenthal lives in Los Angeles where he writes, produces and acts. In 2004, Yuri launched Monkey Kingdom Productions, an independent film company, with business partner and wife, Tara Platt. MKP's first feature film, written by Lowenthal, TUMBLING AFTER, is out on iTunes/DVD. He and Platt currently have five feature scripts and have co-authored a book on voice over: Voice-Over Voice Actor. Yuri also penned the novel Tough City.
Lowenthal speaks French, Japanese and German, having been blessed with an exotic past. Yuri grew up throughout Africa and Europe in addition to the US. His body of work ranges from Shakespearean classics to world premieres, in addition to working in film, television, animation, web-series and making guest appearances at conventions around the globe.
A philanthropist, Yuri raises money for the charities he supports (Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Research and Project (RED)) and practices yoga. He is also trained in Wu Shu Kung Fu. He holds a BA in Asian Studies from The College of William & Mary.
Voices of Miss Annie, Glory Ann Boggs & Jackie Cook
Allison Mullins is a native of the Appalachian mountains, born and raised in the hollers of Wise County in Southwest Virginia. She finds creative joy as an actress, jazz and blues vocalist, and sacred touch instructor. She resides in Johnson City, TN, serving the community as a Priestess, healer, and an Appalachian animist witch.
Voices of Granny White, Mamaw Cook & Oanetta Boggs
Betsy Puckett is a board-certified wingnut. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina where she found her love of the arts. Over the years Betsy has helped start a dance company, was a founding member of an all-female sketch comedy group, performed as her alter ego Augusta Wind on the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours and somewhere in there made a dress out of sporks before she found her way to emceeing The Moth Story Slam and the amazing talents of her host Brother Steve Shell.
Betsy's greatest achievements will always be finding Ben Puckett and subsequently making 2 additional Pucketts, however, it is paramount to note that much credit for her success must be given to her entire at home cheering committee which would not be complete without the four-legged Puckett antics of Rupert, Norman and Glo.
Cultural Sensitivity Consultant, Voice of Tobias Underwood
D.J. Rogers (he/him/his) is an educator and poet from Raleigh by way of Smithfield, NC. His areas of expertise include critical race theory, social and economic justice, and sensitivity reading for black, indigenous (Eastern Cherokee), and LGBTQIA+ representation in media. He is also an educator and advocate in the field of education policy and equity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices of Vernard Boggs, Indiana Boggs, Dave Cook & Lewis Boggs
Brandon Sartain was born in East Tennessee and spent several years there before moving to Kennesaw, GA with his family. As a graduate from Carson-Newman University, an institution located in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, with a B.A. in Theater, he has performed in several shows in the community theatre world around Atlanta and features in several films produced by Bonesaw Entertainment and is represented for film and television by JVA. Brandon has been working with Old Gods of Appalachia and is very passionate about continuing in voice-over work.
Voice of Delia Hubbard
Charlie's family (on both sides) have been from the Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia area since immigration, before Ohio became a state. As a neurodiverse and disabled Appalachian, they found it difficult to find acceptance and harmony within our culture. Yet the spirits of this land have shaped and nurtured them into the queer animist they are today, and they are very grateful.