[As usual notes to myself to remember shows I've seen but maybe of interest you] 

Coming back I decided to take the Ninth Avenue bus down so that I wouldn't have to make a cross bus trip on 42nd Street; I had had too much time to kill when I bought a ticket but now I was going to be cutting it close. As it turned out I got to the theater about six minutes before curtain.

The show had begun a long time ago, maybe 10 or 12 years back, as a one-man tribute to Hank Williams in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry. But it's evolved to into a full play that tells Hank Williams' biography with about two dozen of his songs.

Jason Petty, the man who had begun it and who is the main star was, unfortunately, off, because this was Sunday night and Van Zeiler, the "Sunday night Hank Williams", was playing the main role. [This was likely why I had been able to get a half price ticket.]  For all I know this Sunday night man may have been just as good as the regular player but it was a disappointment to find out that I wasn't going to see the actor  I thought I was going to see.

I enjoyed the show, would even go back again with the regular star, but did find flaws with it. I don't think this was ever supposed to be a deep probing analysis of Hank Williams' life but still you get somewhat confused with the speed with which things are happening.

Hank Williams Lost HighwayA summary of the play is Williams drank and drugged himself to death because either [1] his wife sang off-key or else [2] she was promiscuous. I believe the author didn't want to give too many negative details of what was really happening.

The actor playing Hank Williams did not try to mimic Williams exactly but he sang in the same style and sang well. The woman playing the mother was extremely good in the role of the southern churchgoing matriarch but I suspect she is a character actress who does many roles of a southern churchgoing matriarch and does not to too many different ones. There was a waitress with a really, really strange Southern accent that was almost unintelligible but maybe she had a cold. She played the role of the fans, especially the female fans, like Greek chorus. Besides Hank Williams the other main characters were the two main members of the Drifting Cowboys, one of whom, "Burrhead", really brought his role to life.

There were quite a few holes in the play. For example I don't know that much about Williams' life but I do know that he had a parallel career singing under a different name , mostly religious songs. Although the religious elements of his life were certainly prominent in the play there is no mention of this backside of his personality. And also there were some logical holes: the two drifting cowboys were presented as childhood friends of Williams from Alabama with whom he had grown up, drinking and hung over at the age of 13; but when the wife begins clashing with the band she ridicules one of the players because he comes from Oklahoma.

Those, however, are just nit-picks; the show was very good but lacked something. I suspect it wasn't the actors' performance that caused the lack of spark but rather the audience. It was in the Little Shubert which, I think, holds about 500 people; in any case,  I was counting. There were only about 100 people in the audience and they weren't a good audience; they couldn't make a spark with the actors. 

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JASON PETTY Hank Williams STEPHEN G. ANTHONY Hoss MARGARET BOWMAN Mama Lilly CYNTHIA DARLOW Understudy Mama Lilly IRA HAWKINS Understudy Tee-Tot MICHAEL W. HOWELL Tee-Tot TERTIA LYNCH Audrey Williams MICHAEL P. MORAN Pap DREW PERKINS Leon "Loudmouth" JON ROSEN Understudy Fred "Pap" Rose/Hoss/Leon "Loudmouth" JULIET SMITH Waitress MYK WATFORD Jimmy "Burrhead" RUSS WEVER Shag VAN ZEILER Hank Williams Alternate/Understudy Jimmy "Burrhead" RANDAL MYLER Director/Playwright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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