Stage Review

HANK WILLIAMS: LOST HIGHWAY (2002 - 2003)

EW's GRADE
B+

Details Opening Date: Dec 19, 2002; Lead Performance: Jason Petty; Director: Randal Myler

Hunched over his guitar, his skin stretched across his pale face, Jason Petty inhabits the spirit of the honky-tonk hero in ways only a few actors (say, Val Kilmer in The Doors) have with musicians. Petty lassoes Williams' wiliness, volatility, and crowd-pleasing charm, and he and his fellow actor-musicians transform into a first-rate tribute band during jaunty performances of Hank standards. Alas, the thin-as-a-guitar-pick narrative of this lively bio-musical never fully addresses what lay behind Williams' frozen onstage smile: Did he drink and drug himself to death at 29 because of his back, his mama, his marriage, or something deeper and darker inside himself? Cowriter and director Randal Myler leaves the answer too open-ended for the show's good. Petty has clearly seen the light, but the audience receives only a few brilliant rays.

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Originally posted Feb 14, 2003 Published in issue #695 Feb 14, 2003 Order article reprints
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