Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Stage

Musical revue at Show Palace will bring back memories of famous highway

HUDSON — Looking for some lighthearted, nostalgia-filled entertainment? Take Route 66, a musical revue playing Saturday to Oct. 2 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.

There's no story — just 34 tunes from the 1950s and '60s, the heyday of the legendary road many called the Main Street of America, a strip of highway that stretched 2,400-plus miles from Chicago, down through Oklahoma and across to Santa Monica, Calif.

That's where Route 66 starts — with four grease monkeys at a Chicago Texaco service station singing the Texaco anthem. Before long, the guys shuck their snappy uniforms to head out for the West Coast and some Beach Boys Fun, Fun, Fun. On the way, they make musical stops in Springfield, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Flagstaff and Los Angeles, each home to a certain kind of music — blues, jazz, rock, country or folk.

There are plenty of tributes to the highway — King of the Road, Dead Man's Curve, Little Old Lady (from Pasadena), Beep Beep, Six Days on the Road, Little GTO — plus many classic and not-so-classic tunes.

The four-member cast includes two Show Palace veterans and two making their local debut. Clay Smith (King Mongkut in The King and I) and Matty Colonna (My Way, The Andrews Brothers, The Addams Family) will be familiar to Show Palace regulars.

New to the Show Palace stage, but not to show business, are Joshua Kolb and Dylan Vallier. Kolb won Theatre Winter Haven's Pierrot Award for Best Actor in a Musical (Bert in Mary Poppins) and appeared in La Cage Aux Folles, Avenue Q and many others. Vallier has performed at the Godspeed Opera House, Ivoryton Playhouse and Playhouse on Park, all in Connecticut, among other venues.

The Route 66 highway the show honors started out as several disconnected dirt, gravel and paved roads that were connected and officially opened in November 1926, a boon for long-haul truckers.

After World War II, Route 66 became what one observer called a "cross-country carnival," as the United States prospered and families took to the road in their shiny new cars. What had once been a utilitarian commercial roadway became a tourist destination. Soon, the road was lined with neon-lit motels, diners, roadside attractions, drive-in movie theaters and service stations where an attendant filled the tank, washed your windshield and gave you a big salute to send you on your way.

The arrival of President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System in 1955 almost spelled doom for stop-and-go Route 66. Soon, the neon lights went out, the roadside tourist cabins fell into disrepair, and parts of the road crumbled.

A 1960s TV show, Route 66, brought the road back to public attention. The federal government allocated money to its restoration, and several preservation groups sprung up, as well as several museums devoted to the road. At present, about 80 percent of the original road survives and is driveable.

Even so, the harrowing narrow bridge over the Mississippi River, with its frightening dogleg curve, was closed to traffic in the 1960s and is now a pedestrian bridge.

The director of Route 66 is Matthew Belopavlovich, a member of the theater faculty at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa who has performed at Walt Disney World, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Broadway Dinner Theatre in the Dells and many other venues. The co-director/choreographer is Steve Jones, a frequent performer at the Show Palace (West Side Story, A Chorus Line, The Addams Family). The music director is Clay Smith.

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