published Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Opera comes to Engel - April 24, 26

Talking about ways to stage “The Mighty Casey” at Historic Engel Stadium are Ted Long, John Thomas Cecil and Marianna Allen.
Talking about ways to stage “The Mighty Casey” at Historic Engel Stadium are Ted Long, John Thomas Cecil and Marianna Allen.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

■ What: Artisti Affamati presents the opera "The Mighty Casey."

■ When: 7:30 p.m. today, April 24, and Saturday, April 26.

■ Where: Historic Engel Stadium, Third and O'Neal streets.

■ Admission: $20 general admission, $15 seniors, $5 children.

■ Phone: 423-667-0928.

CAST AND CREW

The Watchman -- Ted Long

Merry -- Marianna Allen

Snedeker -- Keith Rollins

Thatcher -- Robert Uthlaut

Charlie -- Jack DuRoy

Umpire -- Peter Catalano

Manager -- Mitch Collins

Music director -- Darrin Hassevoort

Stage director -- John Thomas Cecil

Acting operations manager -- Kevin Combs

Acting artistic director -- Sara Snider Schone

Over the past several decades, fans at Historic Engel Stadium have seen the likes of no less than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and even basketball legend turned part-time baseball player Michael Jordan. Tonight and Saturday, April 24 and 26, they will get to cheer on Mighty Casey himself.

Artisti Affamati, a Chattanooga-based operatic group composed of professional singers, musicians, directors and crew, will stage "The Mighty Casey" inside the stadium. The evening is being called "Take Me Out to the Opera," and will also include organist Buddy Shirk performing ballpark favorites and members of Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga performing the Abbott & Costello classic "Who's on First" routine. Concessions also will be available to complete the nostalgic baseball atmosphere.

The stadium, built in 1930, hasn't seen any organized baseball in almost four years, but thanks to improvements made during the filming of the feature film "42" and the ongoing fundraising efforts of the Engel Foundation, it continues to be a venue for out-of-the-box community events.

Engel Foundation Executive Director Janna Jahn says staging this opera "is a perfect example of how Engel can serve the community in different ways."

On Friday, May 2, Engel will host The Mummies in a concert that is a fundraiser for the stadium and the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at UTC. In June, it will host games played by four teams in the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball, which plays the game under 1864 rules.

Artisti Affamati, which loosely translates to "starving artists," will have a cast and crew of about 50 people for the production, according to acting artistic director Sara Snider Schone. She says many of them have been involved with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in some way. Many are professional musicians who are active in other groups around town.

Staging an opera is very expensive and financing has come from grants, fundraisers and other creative methods, she says.

"We are collecting costumes, and it is a modern-day event, so finding some of the clothing is not that difficult. Some is getting made, and some we've picked up from theater companies.

"It is a small-town grassroots production, but it is really high quality."

The opera is sung in English and is based on the Ernest Thayer poem "Casey at the Bat." Schone promises a fun evening for the whole family.

Both Jahn and Schone have similar goals for staging an opera at Engel.

"We want people to come and see the beautiful stadium," Jahn says.

"We want people to come and experience opera," says Schone.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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