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Lost Highway found its way back to American Blues Theatre

Greg Hirte, Austin Cook, Matthew Brumlow (Hank Williams and Michael Mahler)
Greg Hirte, Austin Cook, Matthew Brumlow (Hank Williams and Michael Mahler)
Johnny Knight

Hank Williams: Lost Highway has returned again this summer to the Greenhouse Theater Center. The American Blues Theatre’s smash hit opened last year in August to sold-out houses and rave reviews. So if you missed Lost Highway in 2013 you have another chance to see the new hit production. Plus, due to success again this year, the play just extended its run to September 28, 2014. Don’t miss this musical biography of one America’s legendary singer-songwriters – Hank Williams. This theatrical tribute chronicles Williams’s rise from abject poverty in Louisiana to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry and world stage. Hank Williams: Lost Highway includes more than 20 Williams’ songs, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It on Over,” “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Jambalaya” all of these classics penned before the age of 29 when Hank’s destructive lifestyle brought his life to an end.

Here is an interesting twist about this production of Lost Highway: what does a play about the legendary Hank Williams have in common with the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory? Mark Harelik, who along with Randal Myler created Lost Highway, has been a recurring character on the sitcom. Harelik appeared as Dr. Gablehauser, the head of the Physics Department, on the show with Chicagoan Johnny Galecki and super TV nerd Jim Parsons. Harelik and Parsons joined together on stage as very different characters in the 2011 Broadway revival of The Normal Heart. Mark Harelik has also appeared on stage in Chicago and screens both large and small, but additionally, he is known for his playwriting. The Immigrant, written in 1985 (it was developed into a musical in 2000), focused on Harelik’s own family’s move to America at the turn of the 20th century. Harelik joined with Randal Myler to create Hank Williams: Lost Highway in 1987, and that play has run from LA to Nashville to Chicago ever since. We, in Chicago, are fortunate American Blues Theatre has brought the show back again.

The reprise of this megahit for American Blues Theatre not only boasts an amazing cast with Matthew Brumlow as Hank Williams alongside American Blues Ensemble members Jim Leaming (“Fred ‘Pap’”), Michael Mahler (“Jimmy”) on electric guitar, Suzanne Petri (“Mama”), and Austin Cook (“Hoss”) on upright bass; Artistic Affiliate Dana Black (“Waitress”); and guest artists Byron Willis (“Tee Tot”), Greg Hirte (“Leon”) on fiddle, Cora Vander Broek (“Audrey”) and John Foley (“Shag”) on console steel. Then there is the stellar production team for Lost Highway, Damon Kiely (director), Malcolm Ruhl (music director); Sarah E. Ross (costume design), Lauri Dahl (dramaturg), Arianna Soloway (properties), Nick Belley (lighting design), Jackie Penrod (co-scenic design), Rick Penrod (co-scenic design), Rick Sims (sound design), Ellen Willett (production manager) and Dana M. Nestrick (stage manager).

See Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the Greenhouse Theater Center’s Downstairs Mainstage Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. The performance schedule is Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $29 Wednesdays - Fridays and $39 Saturdays and Sundays through September 28 - 773.404.7336 or