Front Page News 2017 Casting Calls for Chattanooga, Spring City, Dayton

DAYTON, Tenn. – The Scopes Festival is looking for men, women, teens and children who are interested in theatre and history to join the cast of Front Page News, the Festival’s annual recreation of the Scopes Evolution Trial in Dayton.

Individuals interested in major, supporting and general roles in the play are invited to auditions at Tennessee Valley Theatre in Spring City (184 West Jackson Ave.) on April 15, 1:30 p.m. EDT, and in Chattanooga at 5 p.m. EDT on April 24, at the Chattanooga State Community College Theatre. Callbacks will be held as needed in the historic Scopes Trial Courtroom at Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, where rehearsals and performances will take place. Chattanooga State Department of Theater, Bryan College, and Tennessee Valley Theater are again assisting the Festival and Playhouse with the production.

Jim Crabtree, Consulting Producer at the Cumberland County Playhouse and director for Front Page News, said there are a number of roles available for men, women, teens and children 10 years old and above, in this play with music. “Front Page News is a play that celebrates how the community of Dayton responded to the case that caught the attention of the world. Like the original trial, Front Page News has caught the attention of the media. Front Page News has received coverage in national publications such as Smithsonian magazine as well as regional and national reports by Tennessee newspapers and the Associated Press.”

In its fourth summer season in cooperation with the Cumberland County Playhouse, Front Page News runs July 14-16 as the focus of the 29th annual Scopes Festival, and then July 22-23.  The play is staged in the courtroom of the Rhea County Courthouse where William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow faced off in 1925 over a new law forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools. The play was adapted with songs by Mr. Crabtree and Nashville “top 10” songwriter Bobby Taylor, from a script by Deborah DeGeorge Harbin.

Mr. Crabtree will lead group casting sessions at both locations, followed by individual private auditions for those with prepared material. A short speech or monologue (under one minute) and 16-32 bars of a song are suggested but not required in these initial auditions. “Happy Birthday” or “Amazing Grace” can suffice.

Key roles available include: New Yorker and oil/coal speculator George Rappelyea, and Dayton, TN attorney Sue K. Hicks (the real “Boy Named Sue”).

Supporting and speaking roles available: Ms. Ferguson, a reporter; Howard (or Hannah) Morgan, a young teen; newspaper reporters; church choir (adults and students, with dialogue); sheriff/bailiff; Mrs. Morgan.

Additional roles available: Youth age 10 and older, teen and adult choir singers who play witnesses, jurors, reporters, spectators and church members.

Those interested in auditioning, volunteering or serving college-level internships should contact Mandy Dearman at 931-484-4324 to register for either session. Those interested who cannot attend these calls should contact Ms. Dearman for future opportunities. Those with prepared material should bring sheet music in the right key. Rehearsals will begin in the courtroom in mid-May. The directors strive to work around job and school schedules of volunteers.

Financial support for Front Page News is provided by Rhea County, the City of Dayton and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Projections were developed with assistance of Dunaway Designs/Digital Stage Chicago. Cumberland County Playhouse provides direction, marketing and casting assistance.

Reserved and general admission tickets will be available through the Festival website,, or by calling Tennessee Valley Theater at 423.365.PLAY (7529).