Make us your home page

Review: Show Palace's 'Route 66' stokes plenty of memories of the famous highway

People who fondly remember Nash Ramblers, the man with the Texaco star, eight-cylinder engines and little GTOs will likely enjoy the songs in and the memories revived by Route 66, a jukebox musical recalling all things good and fine with that strip of highway running straight through from Chicago to Los Angeles and carrying trucks and vacationers for the first half of the 20th century — or until the Interstate Highway System almost killed it.

Route 66 (not to be confused with the book musical Route 66: The Road Musical) plays matinees and evenings through Oct. 2 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.

It's a lively, fun, all-music and dance tribute (with one brief spoken local reference) to truckers and their CB radio chatter, tourists looking for a roadside attraction (World's Largest Ball of String, anyone?), saucy diner waitresses and the stay-put locals who wistfully watch the passing parade on what has been called America's Main Street.

First-time Show Palace director Matthew Belopavlovich and co-director Steve Jones (Mark in A Chorus Line) guide the show's four talented singer/dancers to an audience-pleasing turn. Show Palace veterans, tall, deep-voiced Clay Smith and multitalented Matty Colonna, and newcomers Joshua Kolb and Dylan Vallier do a delightful series of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes centered around the kings and queens of the road. Choreographer Jones adds some fancy footwork in and around set designer Todd Everest's simple but evocative backdrops and props.

Everest's set includes a large radio dial suspended over the stage, playing commercials for date-specific cars, tires and digestive remedies, along with station call letters, to let the audience know when and where they are on this cross-country adventure — and give the performers a chance to change outfits. Scenic artist Tim Dow's painted backdrops set the locale just right, and Michael Sessa's lights enhance the mood.

There are novelty songs like Beep Beep!, with Smith's Rambler hilariously tailgating Kolb and Vallier's Cadillac as they spin and honk and roll around desk chairs; comedy songs like Girl on the Billboard, sung at breakneck speed by Kolb; trucker songs like Six Days on the Road, and nostalgic songs like Used to Be, a lament that a local dance hall is gone, anchored by Vallier, and Mother Road, the regrets of the locals.

Each of the four performers gets a chance to shine, but it's the close harmonies that hit the heart and stay there. On opening night, music director Smith's recorded music at first almost drowned out the voices on stage, but modulated nicely by the end of the performance.

Running about 100 minutes, including intermission, the show moves as fast as a long-haul trucker getting close to home. (Note: If you leave during the bows, as some did opening night, you'll miss two of the best numbers of the evening.)

>>if you go

'Route 66'

The jukebox musical is matinees and evenings through Oct. 2 at Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson. Dinner and show $49.50, plus tax and tip. Children's and group rates available. Call (727) 863-7949 or visit

Review: Show Palace's 'Route 66' stokes plenty of memories of the famous highway 08/28/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 4:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend: June 30-July 2: Vans Warped Tour, fireworks, corgi races, Guardian Con, Dan TDM


    Plan your weekend

    Vans Warped Tour: The shirtless and inked-up masses will once again descend upon St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Saturday to mosh and thrash to dozens of bands across seven stages. This year brings the likes of Gwar, thrash group Municipal Waste, Southern metal band Valient …

    Corgi in the grass; Dog playing the the grass;
  2. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Fourth of July celebrations firing off all around Hillsborough


    Apollo Beach

    Food Truck Festival celebrates fourth

  4. Channelside, downtown sight of holiday festivities


    CHANNEL DISTRICT — The City of Tampa's largest Independence Day celebration, Light Up Tampa Bay, returns to Channelside Plaza on Tuesday with fireworks, live music, entertainment, face painting and food trucks.

    Fireworks explode over Channelside during last year’s July 4th celebration.
  5. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater


    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]