I laughed. I cried. My goosebumps had goosebumps. So, how was your Saturday?
My husband, Michael, our close friend, Trapper, and I were out late last night. We didn’t just tear up the town, we tore up several towns. We threw back the drinks, ate too much, laughed, told stories (a few even may have been true), and had a great time. Okay, so the only drinks we threw back were coffee, and eating too much is expected when it’s catfish at Willow Pond and coffee and desserts at Kentucky Dam Village. Truth be told, I had coffee at every stop we made – that’s how I roll… highly caffeinated.
Michael and I got back home to Owensboro really late. I stayed up a little bit talking to our youngest daughter, Stephany, so by the time I got to sleep, Granny Clampett was somewhere waking up. There’s no way I should already be up drinking coffee (yes, I’m addicted) and eating a piece of leftover catfish (yes, I’m nuts) – yet, here I sit.
Here’s the thing: Before our tour of catfish, coffee, and chocolate began, the three of us saw Hank Williams: Lost Highway in Grand Rivers at the Badgett Playhouse. I was SO impressed and SO moved that I couldn’t wait to get up and write about it. We go to a lot of different entertainment venues. We catch shows at The Grand Ole Opry regularly and we’ve seen every show put on at the Badgett Playhouse (they serve really good coffee, by the way).
We’ve even seen the phenomenal Broadway smash CATS.
I’m not being boasty or toasty – I’m just setting the stage. So to speak.
I’ve never seen any show, production, or performance that left me any more speechless or moved me any further than Hank Williams: Lost Highway at Badgett Playhouse. A couple of times I’m pretty sure that my mouth was gaping open as tears filled my eyes. Not a particularly good look for me, but it was beyond my control.
For my 12 websites and blogs, I write many (MANY) reviews each week (are you beginning to understand the coffee fetish?). I’ve found that it’s much easier to write about books, restaurants, products, or shows that you’re lukewarm about. It’s even easier for me to write about ones I hate. I simply don’t write anything about those – I ignore them as in, “That never happened.”
But the ones that blow me completely away? It’s as though my words fail to show up because they know they’re going to be inadequate anyway. I also fear leaving something out. It’s like having a fantastic meal at a fantastic restaurant – how can you give equal praise to each item on your plate AND the friendly server AND the ambiance? How can you make sure you cover everything and attempt to do it all justice?
My approach? Take a big swill of coffee, roll your sleeves up, jump in feet first, and do your darnedest.
So hang on.
I’ve loved every show we’ve ever seen from Grand Rivers Variety. I’m blown away each time – wondering how we got so lucky and blessed to have so much talent accumulated right here in Kentucky. Each time we go, I spend the entire ride home wondering how I can spread the word about the shows at Badgett Playhouse.Ã?Â To date, I’ve written many articles here on Genuine Kentucky about Grand Rivers Variety AND I’ve written letters to quite a few local (and not so local) newspapers.Ã?Â Ã?Â Most newspapers have it set up to do so on their websites, and I’ve done just that. That reminds me, it’s been about a year, I think it’s time to make the rounds again.
If they ever print up t-shirts, I’ll be first in line to buy seven – one for each member of my immediate family. We all gadabout all over Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana and we’d let our t-shirts spread the message.
What can I say? I’m a huge fan.
I’m an even bigger fan after last night. Hank Williams: Lost Highway was one of the best shows I’ve ever, ever seen at Badgett Playhouse – or anywhere else for that matter. I’m as obsessed with the Greater Tuna shows as I am with coffee, so I can’t put it above them, but it sits at the top of the rest. It was THAT special, THAT entertaining, THAT moving, and THAT remarkable. If you don’t grab tickets for Hank Williams: Lost Highway immediately and see it right away, you’ll be making one of the biggest mistakes of your life. It doesn’t matter if you were a huge Hank Williams fan or not Heck, it doesn’t matter if you really aren’t even sure who Hank Williams was.
It doesn’t even matter if you think of Monday Night Football when you hear the name! (It was his son, by the way, but really it doesn’t matter).
Everyone involved with Hank Williams: Lost Highway deserves pages of accolades and heaps of praise. A great, great, great deal of work, effort, time, and talent obviously went into the production, the gorgeous costumes, the songs, the music, the lines, the directing, and so forth. This is an exceptionally well-done show and it’s abundantly obvious that everyone connected to Grand Rivers Variety busted their backsides to contribute. Excellence doesn’t just happen. Excellence is earned.
Here’s a list of the cast, a partial list of those who chased (and caught) excellence:
Ross Bolen – Hank Williams
Stephen D. Keene – Tee Tot
Kirsten Cannon – an adorable waitress! Kirsten is what you call a scene-stealer and she was PERFECT for the role.
Scot Durham – Pappy (I’ve seen Scot in many different roles at Grand Rivers Variety and this was, in my opinion, him at his best. Great job!)
Sara Lynn Minihan – Audrey (Remarkably talented and hilarious as always – and the girl makes the costumes, too. I’m never less than totally amazed by her.)
Kay Scarbrough – Hank Williams Sr.’s mother (This, along with Bus Stop was one of the best shows at Grand Rivers Variety and Kay was absolutely priceless in each.)
Steve Sherling and Barry Jobe – Hank Williams Sr.’s friends and band members. They delivered the perfect amount of humor to offset the drama of the show. They were brilliant! If you love the Greater Tuna shows as much as I do (not sure anyone could love them quite as much as me, but we won’t split hairs), you’ll recognize Steve Sherling. It’s Steve (along with the equally hilarious Bill Minihan) who makes these tuna shows so outrageously priceless.
And, of course, the irreplaceable and talented musicians Eddie Holland and Thomas Michael. Flawless as always. I think we all are spoiled by their greatness – something that can be said of everyone associated with Grand Rivers Variety.
While I’d love to spend the entire day applauding each member of the cast and crew – I think my readers would begin to tune out after page 7 or 8. So, I’m going to give my attention to the two of the cast members who are totally new to me. As for the “regulars” who are anything but just regular, you were amazing as always. Flawless, prepared, professional, engaging, entertaining, and a credit to artistic performers everywhere. You’re so freaking amazing that it’s becoming kind of old hat, you know? You people remind me of watching a Johnny Depp movie. Of course the Depp’s going to be devastatingly amazing. He’d incapable of anything less.
Ditto to each and every one of you. You’re sailing excellent waters with Captain Jack Sparrow. How’s that working for you?
I’ll turn my attention to the two crew members who are new to me. Mind you they aren’t newcomers or stowaways – I’ve simply never had the pleasure of seeing (or hearing) them in action. God willing, it won’t be my last time either.
Stephen D. Keene and Ross Bolen made an embarrassing wrong turn, you see. These young men should be in Hollywood, New York City, or Nashville making records and playing before sold out crowds at The Grand Old Opry or Broadway or making movies for millions of people to enjoy.
Let’s not tell them that Grand Rivers isn’t New York City and Badgett Playhouse isn’t Broadway – because, frankly, when they’re on stage it feels like they are.
Truth be told, the same could be said about quite a few of the performers at Grand Rivers Variety, but remember, I’m trying to stay within a reasonable word count here.
Ross Bolen didn’t just “play” the role of Hank Williams, he as much as became Hank Williams. He is the embodiment of Hank Williams – right to the core. The demons that tore through Williams seemed to be tearing right through Ross Bolen. At one point, some of the most mesmerizing and intoxicating music I’ve ever heard filled the playhouse as the equally mesmerizing and intoxicating Stephen D. Keene sang (seriously, man… where are your CD’s..). Ross Bolen’s Hank Williams sat on the stage, sort of writhing as the demons were winning the battle. This was one of the times I got goosebumps. They accompanied the gaping mouth and tear-filled eyes. At one point I realized I was holding my breath.
That sort of thing’s expected when you’re transfixed.
The show opened beautifully and emotionally and it never missed a beat. They spellbound you from the very start and don’t release you until you walk out the front doors.
In case you couldn’t notice, I’m sort of scrambling for words here. I work with words all day, every day and yet here I am…. chasing them around my home on an early Sunday morning! Where are the words that can tell you just how powerful Ross Bolen was as Hank Williams and how otherworldly Stephen D. Keene’s voice is? When he first opened his mouth and this AMAZING voice came out,my husband leaned over to me and said, “If James Earl Jones could sing, THAT’S what he’d want to sound like!”
I can’t argue with that, and Mr. Jones wouldn’t be alone.
Ross Bolen and Stephen D. Keene blew me so far away that I’m not expected back for days. As always, when you leave Badgett Playhouse, the audience is able to shake the performers hands and say a few words before leaving. There was quite a crowd, so unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to shake each person’s hand. I did make my way to Mr. Keene, however. As I shook his large hand and looked up into his smiling face, I felt like a giddy fan, backstage at a concert. All the great, profound words at my disposal flew out the window and all I could do was giggle and say, “I could listen to you sing all day!”
Seriously? That’s all I had?
I guess I should say, that’s all I had left.
Hank Williams: Lost Highway isn’t just a great show. It isn’t just a series of outstanding performances. It isn’t just an eye-popping production with gorgeous costumes. It isn’t just 2 hours of heart-thumping excitement and heart-touching emotion. It isn’t just an excellent way to see how you look when you’re transfixed (as enlightening as that is). Hank Williams: Lost Highway at Grand Rivers Variety is a once in a lifetime experience that’s waiting for you.
Click the following link to learn more about Hank Williams: Lost Highway and it’s excellent cast.
Click here for other shows and dates at Grand Rivers Variety.
2013 Dates for Hank Williams: Lost Highway – GO! Take everyone you know and half the people you don’t know!
More Grand Rivers Variety Reviews & News on Genuine Kentucky:
- The Outlaws of Country Music at Grand Rivers Variety
- The Sweethearts of Country Music at Grand Rivers Variety
- Red, White, and Tuna: You’ll Laugh Until You Cry!
- Always, Patsy Cline: Back By Popular Demand
- Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical at Grand Rivers Variety
- Variety! Music, Memories, and More Christmas Spectacular Review
- The Fabulous 50’s Show at Grand Rivers Variety
- The Big Band Show at Grand Rivers Variety
- Greater Tuna is Back in Grand Rivers and All Is Right in My World
- It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Grand Rivers Variety
- A Tuna Christmas in Grand Rivers: Sign Me Up!