MISSION - Students aged 12-18 who can act, sing and dance are asked to audition for the musical play "The Ghosts of Celilo." Native and nonnative aspiring actors who can perform pow-wow style dances and songs are needed.

The auditions will be held from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, on the grounds of Wildhorse Resort and Casino.

Young people will be asked to sing a song of choice and read a few lines from a script. Those who can dance should bring a CD to dance to, or can dance without music. Dancing is not required of all roles.

Those who are cast in the play are expected to attend rehearsals and performances from March 13-16. The exact times of those events will be released at a later date and will be held at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.

Young people can schedule their audition times in advance by calling Tamastslikt at 966-1913. Auditions will be scheduled in 20-minute intervals.

Tamastslikt will present "The Ghost of Celilo" at 7 p.m. March 16 at BMCC in Pioneer Theatre. Marv and Rindy Ross are producing the original work and members of their bands, Quarterflash and The Trail Band will perform in the orchestra.

The 24-member cast will also include guest actors and singers from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation as well as actors from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The musical was created by Ross, Tom Hampson and Thomas Morning Owl as part of this year's 50th observance of the inundation of Celilo Falls, which was flooded by The Dalles Dam in 1957. Ross, Morning Owl, Arlie Neskahi and Chenoa Egawa wrote the script and arranged the music.

It took 10 years to complete the production, which is based on interviews that Ross, Hampson and Morning Owl conducted with those who lived and fished at Celilo Falls.

The play was recently selected to open the Artists Repertory Theatre's 2002-08 season at the Newmark Theatre in Portland and was awarded a grant by the National Alliance of Musical Theatres. There is a chance that some of the local actors will be part of that performance.

"We hope so," Ross said. "It will depend on how the actors from Pendleton perform, of course. We are looking for Native American actors to fill certain roles so it is our hope that we can find some artists for these roles while in Pendleton."

The play will satisfy people who enjoy musicals, Ross said.

"To our knowledge, it is the first musical that combines Native American songs and musical theatre-styled tunes," Ross said. "People who enjoy seeing "West Side Story" or "The Sound of Music" will enjoy this play, and at the same time will walk away with a new appreciation and understanding of Native American music and traditions."

He calls "The Ghosts of Celilo" a love story and a mystery rolled into one. It tells the story of two Indian boys kidnapped at Celilo Falls in the 1950s, who were then taken to a strict boarding school. They are befriended by the daughter of the school's administrator and the three escape to catch a ceremonial "first fish" before Celilo is destroyed.

The story is told by four ghosts who have been trapped for 50 years at the bottom of the Columbia River. During the play the ghosts reveal their deepest secrets in the hopes of being freed so they can move on.


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