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The 'Trail of Tears' Drama Returns
"Auditions Scheduled for Cherokee Heritage
Centerís Trail of Tears Outdoor Drama."

Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma News
Cherokee News Path ~ Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Copyright © 2001 CNO
All Rights Reserved


TAHLEQUAH, OK - After numerous requests from the public, the Cherokee Heritage Center is proud to announce the return of its highly acclaimed outdoor drama, The Trail of Tears. As in the past, the performance tells the story of the Cherokee Nation through drama and dance with a new addition: live on-stage singing.

In preparation for its upcoming Trail of Tears Drama debut, the Cherokee Heritage Center will be holding auditions February 24th and 25th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northeastern State University Playhouse, located at the corner of Downing and Muskogee Avenues in Tahlequah. The 24th will be reserved specifically for Tahlequah-area residents and NSU students, faculty, and staff. Performers and technicians from other areas may join the audition process the following day, the 25th. Tulsa area actors and singers must travel to Tahlequah on Sunday, February 25th to audition. That will be the second day of Northeastern State University auditions, but preference will be given to Tulsa performers. All age groups are welcome, but minors must live in the vicinity of Tahlequah to be cast. February 26th auditions will be held in Oklahoma City from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the City Arts Center, located at the State Fairground. In addition, auditions will be held February 17th and 18th at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. Actors and singers should be ready to deliver prepared audition pieces and an accompanist will be provided; dancers will audition between 1p.m. and 5 p.m., and should use tapes. Non-speaking roles need no advance preparation. Technicians should bring their resumes. Rehearsals begin June 11th, and the show will run through Labor Day Weekend.

Over the years the Tsa La Gi Amphitheater, which seats an audience of more than 1,800, has undergone numerous changes and, after 28 years, it became apparent that the Trail of Tears Drama needed updating for a new audience. To get Oklahomans back to their favorite outdoor drama, Tahlequah's Cherokee Heritage Center has again contracted Joe Sears to be the new drama's playwright. Sears wrote the 1997 version, which told the story of the Cherokee but didn't include dance as a part of the overall spectacle. "It was the choice of the Cherokee to exclude all Hollywood dancing, as the Native Americans call it," said Sears in a recent interview from his Austin, Texas, home in the hill country. The new request for the 2001 script calls for a compromise that Sears says is easy to make. "The tourists demand that the entertainment be heightened," states Sears, the Tony Award-nominated Oklahoma actor who will serve as the Drama's director. "We have to remain aware of everyone's needs, especially the audience, who is smarter than audiences 25 years ago. The new generations of Oklahomans have computers and easier access to their Cherokee Heritage; they know the true story of their ancestry. It would insult them as an audience to ignore the feelings of the Nation, even through they themselves are not members."

Making the attempt to please everyone is something Sears says he is known for in show business. As a playwright, he has been must successful as co-author of the now famous Tuna plays, Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas, both of which appeared in New York. A Tuna Christmas was awarded for a Broadway Tony Award and was also among those selected for Best Plays of 1995. Last summer, Sears and co-author Jaston Williams, helped create the new hit comedy opera, Ochelata's Wedding at the 2000 Ok Mozart International Music Festival in Bartlesville, Sears's hometown.

The auditions for this summer's production will require singing and dancing. The script calls for several live singing scenes. Sears reports that the new show will include the entire cast singing "Amazing Grace" in Cherokee, as part of a funereal scene along the "trail where they cried." Producers of the new drama are happy with the production team, which includes well-known songwriter Kimmie Rhodes, from such productions as Austin City Limits and Late Night with David Letterman. A Willie Nelson "family" singer, she has worked with Sears on several shows, serving as musical director.

For more information contact Patrick Whelan, by phone: 918-456-6007 or email: pwhelan@ipa.net.


Related path(s) and contact information:

The Cherokee Heritage Center
P.O. Box 515; Tahlequah, OK 74465
Phone: 918-456-6007 ~ FAX: 918-456-6165
E-Mail: info@cherokeeheritage.org

Mike Miller, Cherokee Nation
Director of Communications
Phone: (918) 456-0671 (ext. 2210)
Fax: (918) 458-5580
E-mail: Communications@cherokee.org

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Attn: (Department Name)
P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465
Telephone: 918-456-0671
(Toll Free OK) 1-800-256-0671


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