Good Company Players is gearing up in a big way for the highlight of its season: the starring appearance of country-music star Louise Mandrell in the musical “Calamity Jane,” which opens July 19. I devoted my Sunday Spotlight column to Mandrell’s recent trip to Fresno. She came to sit in on auditions for the remaining roles in the show.
Mandrell told me that “Calamity Jane” will be the last time she performs, at least into the near future. She isn’t using the word retirement, but her husband, John Haywood, has been ill, and in recent years she’s cut back her career to spend more time with him.
“Because of my husband’s health, this is the last thing on the books,” she says of her appearance in the Good Company show. “If his health improves, that may change, but as of now, this is the last thing that is for sure.”
And who will play the role of Wild Bill Hickok, the love interest of Calamity Jane, in the show? The lucky guy is veteran Good Company actor Brian Pucheu. Mandrell told me after the casting announcement that she’s delighted to work with Pucheu, although she admits that the extreme beard that he sported during auditions — which he grew out for his first-rate portrayal of Charles Guiteau in the just-finished run of “Assassins” at Fresno State — did throw her at first. After she looked at pictures of a less-hirsute Pucheu in earlier roles for Good Company, she declared him “quite handsome.”
Photo: Mandrell, left, works with William Johnson, Brian Pucheu and Teddy Moldonado during auditions for “Calamity Jane.” On the jump: More pics and the “Calamity Jane” cast list.
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