For Good Company Players, the opening nights come around like clockwork. But there’s no doubt that tonight is going to feel extra special. Louise Mandrell, starring in “Calamity Jane,” is making her musical-theater debut, and for the first time in the company’s nearly 40-year history, a “star” is opening a show.
I write about Mandrell in a front-page article in today’s Bee. There are a couple of compelling arcs to the story. Mandrell might have years of experience entertaining audiences numbering in the thousands at concerts, but she’s had to hunker down to prepare to play a character on stage. Plus, there’s a poignant angle as well: She’s announced this will be her last public performance for the foreseeable future so she can tend to her ill husband, John Haywood.
There will be loads of Mandrell supporters tonight in the audience. Along with her husband will be her longtime manager, Clint Higham, a Good Company alum and stalwart company supporter whose management company is underwriting Mandrell’s appearance in the show. Backstage, as always, will be her beloved Chinese crested dog, Bobbie Sue, named for her famous big sister. (Barbara Mandrell plans a trip to Fresno to see Louise in the show, but the date is a surprise.)
One thing is for sure: Mandrell loves people, and she loves interacting with her fans. Bring your autograph book with you to “Calamity Jane.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Check out Bee photog Craig Kohlruss’ snappy gallery of Louise Mandrell pics here.
Bee photo / Craig Kohlruss