Get Your Kicks on "Route 66", NKU's Next Summer Theatre Offering
Sat, 07/05/2014 - 11:10 RCN Newsdesk
So there are these four service station attendants -- you know the musical revue Route 66 is a blast from the past because – service station attendants?
In Commonwealth Theatre’s production opening July 9 at Northern Kentucky University, the guys are talented Wes Carman, Roderick Justice, Dain Page and Joshua Steele who hit America’s Mother Road in Chicago with hits from the ‘50s and end up in California with ‘60s surfer hits.
There are lots of road songs along the way on this ride down memory lane – like “Beep Beep,” “Truck Drivin’ Man” and “On the Road Again” – on the way to the Santa Monica Pier and “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”
The guys play ‘themselves’ in “Route 66” – at least they use their own names, adopting the character and circumstance of the song.
In real life, Steele is the theater director of The Carnegie in Covington. In “Route 66,” he laughs, “I'm alternately the overzealous lover, the wizened boy from the plains, and a singing cow.”
Paige is a veteran of NKU summer dinner theater and many theaters around Greater Cincinnati. “The cast jokes that before every song, I say, "Oh, THIS one is my favorite!"
“If I had to choose, I would say "King of the Road", because we sing it a cappella, and it's great to hear those four voices blend so well.
“Wait, maybe it would be "On the Road Again"... or "Fun, Fun, Fun"...”
Justice, associate artistic director of The Children’s Theatre, an NKU grad and in his thirteenth year with the summer dinner shows, agrees on the “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
He doubles as the revue’s choreographer and “really enjoyed choreographing the Beach Boys medley 'Fun, Fun, Fun/I Get Around,' which closes the show. Then again, I love iconic ‘60s dance moves -- The Twist, The Monkey, The Pony, The Hitchhiker, The Swim...”
Steele has two favorites. “I'm a huge fan of Roger Miller -- he really inspired “Loveland Frog,” (the recent Cincinnati Fringe hit bluegrass musical which Steele co-wrote) and I love singing the goofy lyrics and lilt of ‘King of the Road.’ I'm also a close harmony geek and love the dense arrangements of the title number in the first act and our finale.”
Steele is also the only cast member who can claim a personal acquaintance with US Route 66. “I actually drove the 'new' Route 66 en route from Cincinnati to LA several years ago. There remains plenty of the old kitsch along the way. I really don't think there is a modern-day equivalent. It was a boom time for the automobile and western migration, a perfect product of its time and function.”
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts contributor
Route 66, July 9-27, Fine Arts Center, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights. $30 dinner and show. Tuesday-Saturday: 6:30 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. show; Sunday: 5 p.m. dinner, 6:30 p.m. show. For more information and tickets call the NKU Fine Arts Box Office at 859-572-5464.