Riverside Theatre, led by Producing Artistic Director/CEO Allen D. Cornell and Managing Director/COO Jon R. Moses, starts its 44th season with the celebrated musical featuring the music of American Icon, Hank Williams, in Hank Williams: Lost Highway. Presenting sponsors for Hank Williams: Lost Highway are Ted & Dawn Michael with additional support from Riverside Theatre’s Patron Producers’ Group. Hank Williams: Lost Highway plays the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre from October 24 through November 12, 2017.
A spectacular musical biography of a legendary singer-songwriter, Hank Williams: Lost Highway is an award-winning tribute to one of the great innovators of American popular music. Written by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik, the show follows Williams’ rise from his beginnings on the “Louisiana Hayride” to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry to his eventual self-destruction at the age of twenty-nine. Along the way, audiences are treated to indelible songs like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It on Over,” and “Hey, Good Lookin’” and many more. Featuring a talented cast of performer/musicians, discover the show Rolling Stone calls, “exhilarating” and The New York Times says is, “smart, sweet, and poignant.”
Widely considered country music’s first superstar, Hiriam “Hank” Williams was born September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Alabama. Growing up in a rural area and the third child of Lon and Lilly, Williams lived in a household that never had much money. His only solace seemed to be music. Picking up the guitar for the first time at the age of eight, he identified most with the musical sounds that poured out of the radio and emanated from church choirs. At the age of 13, he made his radio debut and shortly thereafter entered talent shows with his own band, Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys.
By the early 1940s he’d caught the attention of music executives in Nashville. As his singing and songwriting abilities increased, so did his dependence on alcohol. In 1943, he met singer Audrey Mae Sheppard, whom he eventually married and gave birth to their son, Hank Williams, Jr. in 1949.
In 1947, Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over” which was quickly followed by “Honky Tonkin.'” Becoming a regular on the Saturday Night Shreveport radio station program, “Louisiana Hayride,” Williams’ performances greatly increased his name recognition, but it wasn’t until his 1949 hit, “Lovesick Blues,” that his sound really resonated with music fans and executives at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, who invited Williams to perform.
Williams’ life quickly changed. Over the next several years he churned out a number of other big hits, including: “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Lost Highway,” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” He also wrote a number of religious songs under the pseudonym Luke the Drifter.
As his success deepened, so did Williams’ dependence on alcohol. His physical appearance diminished and he suffered a minor heart attack in 1951 while visiting his sister in Florida. On New Year’s Day 1953, he took his place in the back of his 1952 powder blue Cadillac. As his driver barreled toward a concert venue in Ohio, Williams’ abuse finally took their toll and he passed away in the back seat.
His passing did not bring about the end to his stardom, however. In the years since his death, Williams’ impact has only grown, with artists as varied as Perry Como, Dinah Washington, Norah Jones and Bob Dylan, all covering his work. Today Hank Williams is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 2010 the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for songwriting.
Riverside Theatre’s production of Hank Williams: Lost Highway is Co-Directed by David and Sherry Lutken with David also serving as Music Director. The cast includes: Ben Hope (Hank Williams), Katie Barton (Audrey Williams), Tony Perry (Tee Tot), Marcy McGuigan (Mama Lilly), Eric Anthony (Burrhead), David Finch (Loudmouth), Roger Rettig (Shag), Sam Sherwood (Hoss), Sherry Lutken (Waitress) and David Lutken (Fred Rose).
The production crew includes: Peter Barbieri (Scenic Design), Kurt Alger (Costume Design), Richard Crowell (Lighting Design), Craig Beyrooti (Sound Design), and Julie A. Richardson (Production Stage Manager). Hank Williams: Lost Highway performs October 24 – November 12, 2017 on the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre. Tickets start at $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at http://www.riversidetheatre.com.
Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Opening Night, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; with matinees on Wednesdays, select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Performance Schedule: October 24, 27, 28, November 3, 4, 10 & 11 @ 8pm October 25, 28, 29, November 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 11 & 12 @ 2pm October 25, 26, November 1, 2, 7, 8 & 9 @ 7:30pm