Bear Country, a Hit Play in Alabama, Gets a Song and a Website

News   Bear Country, a Hit Play in Alabama, Gets a Song and a Website
The hit Alabama Shakespeare Festival production of Bear Country, about legendary University of Alabama football Coach Paul W. Bryant, will be sweetened by an original song when it plays a Birmingham, AL, engagement Aug. 6-20.
Rodney Clark as Bear Bryant
Rodney Clark as Bear Bryant Photo by Phil Scarsbrook

"We've added a new song to the play entitled 'Mama Callin','" said the show's author Mike Vigilant, who wrote the lyrics. Gerry Castle wrote the music.

"My hope was to have an original song to thread through the first production [in Montgomery], but we simply ran out of time before opening. Now, we've got it for the Birmingham run."

Coach Bryant famously used the phrase "Mama called" when referring to leaving Texas A & M to coach his alma mater, Alabama, in the late 1950s.

The song will be sung by singer-actress and Alabama native Celeste Burnum. Burnum has a long list of acting and singing credits from New York to Florida. She has also acted and sung in several Birmingham productions, including as a featured performer with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Burnum also performed in ASF's hit play Always Patsy Cline.

Vigilant and Castle have collaborated on numerous songs during a 20-year writing partnership. Since 1989 they have had more than a dozen musicals published by Samuel French, Inc. Contemporary Drama Service and Pioneer Drama Service. At its world premiere at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival last winter, Bear Country played to six weeks of sold-out performances and standing ovations and is the best-selling play in the history of ASF's Octagon Theatre.

The Birmingham engagement will play The Virginia Samford Theatre, located at Caldwell Park near Highland Avenue. Tickets for Bear Country are available exclusively by calling (800) 841-4273 or on line at

*, a website devoted to the hit play, went live July 23. 2009. Bear Country was commissioned and produced by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. features production information, a slide show of production photos from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival world premiere and an audio clip of the new song "Mama Callin'."

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