Bear Country


Gregory played the title character in this world premiere at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, aging from 14 to 58 in the two-hour telling of Paul "Bear" Bryant's life, quite a challenge, especially in front of Alabamians for whom this college football coach was a god.  Gregory was relieved and thrilled to see great notices and sold-out houses for the extended run. 

Tim Rhoze directed a cast that also starred Rodney Clark as Old Coach Bryant, plus John Patrick Hayden and Yaegel T. Welch.

Playwright Mike Vigilant developed this piece out of a reading at ASF's venerable Southern Writers Project.  Artistic Director Geoffrey Sherman, a big believer in "geo-specific" theatre, had enough confidence in the play to schedule it between the theatre's traditional repertory seasons of classical works.

The facilities at ASF are astonishing, housing two gorgeous theatres - Bear Country played in the more intimate Octagon space - along with rehearsal halls, offices, and lobbies with vaulted ceilings and a statue of the Bard himself to greet you.

After the show, Gregory would often stroll the grounds of the campus where the theatre sits, vast acreage that also includes a fine art museum, shimmering ponds, and wildlife from geese to frogs.  Gregory was truly humbled by the opportunity to practice his craft at one of the crown jewels of American theatre.

press from the show

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top photo by Phil Scarsbrook; other photos courtesy ASF