[Fresno Bee - 12/2/2011
] Climb the stairs backstage at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater and you'll find just two dressing rooms: one for men, the other for women. Fresno's Good Company Players might be a theater from which performers go on to become big stars – think Audra McDonald and Chris Colfer – but the company, true to its community-theater roots for the past 38 seasons, prides itself as a fiercely egalitarian experience. All cast members receive the same compensation: $6 a show for expenses.
That "no star" tradition will continue even when country-music star Louise Mandrell comes to Fresno to embark on an eight-week run as the title character in the musical comedy "Calamity Jane." The Good Company show will run July 19-Sept. 16.
The singer vaulted to fame in the early 1980s TV series "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" and had a string of country hits in that decade, including the Top 5 song "I Wanna Say Yes."
Though she has logged thousands of hours of stage and TV experience – and headlined a theater bearing her name – this will be Mandrell's musical theater debut.
"I can't wait," Mandrell says, speaking Friday from her home outside Nashville as she took a walk with Bobbie Sue, her prized Chinese Crested puppy, named after her older sister, Barbara.
"I've always surrounded myself with very talented people, and I'm very excited to be a part of this production."
The musical, based on the popular 1953 movie, is loosely based on tales from the life of Martha Jane Cannary, an Old West sharpshooter who slowly sheds her "tomboy" image as she falls in love with the famed "Wild Bill" Hickok.
to view the full announcement and interview.]