Van Zeiler, who played Williams Off-Broadway in 2002-03, again takes the title role, beginning Nov. 26 at the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson. Three Arizona engagements (Tucson, Phoenix and Mesa) will be followed by stops in Kansas City and Dallas in 2006.
"His legacy still shapes American music more than 50 years after his death," according to ATC production notes. "From his early days in the honky-tonks around his home state of Alabama, to his famous days at the Grand Ole Opry, Hank Williams is one of the masters of American roots music."
Hank Williams: Lost Highway is co-authored by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik, creators of the hit play, The Immigrant. Myler also directs.
The musical "follows the life of a country music legend who begins as a poor and sickly child raised by his opinionated and church-going mother, Lilly, and learns about music from Tee-Tot, an African-American blues musician. As Hank puts together his band, The Drifting Cowboys, it becomes clear that he is something special, and by the time Hank is on-top-of-the-world playing at the Grand Ole Opry, it seems that life cannot get any better. But despite all his success and fame, he is unable to shake his troubles with alcohol, drugs and women."
The cast of 10 actor-musicians, most of them vets of the New York production of Hank Williams: Lost Highway, includes Van Zeiler, who alternated in the role Off-Broadway and played it at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Zeiler played the title role in London's hit West End production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, as well as the U.K. and U.S. national tours, where he earned a Jefferson Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical. The troupe features Mississippi Charles Bevel (as Tee-Tot), H. Drew Perkins (as Leon "Loudmouth"), Stephen G. Anthony (as Hoss), Margaret Bowman (as Mama Lilly), Patricia Dalen (as The Waitress), Mike Regan (as Fred Rose "Pap"), Regan Southard (as Audrey Williams), Myk Watford (as Burrhead) and Russ Weaver (as Shag).
Performances play Tucson to Dec. 17, followed by engagements in Phoenix Dec. 29-Jan. 22, 2006, at the Herberger Theater Center; and Mesa Feb. 3-12, 2006, at the Mesa Arts Center. This 2005-06 staging is a co-production with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, where it will play from March 1-26, 2006, and Dallas Theater Center, where it will play April 18-May 14, 2006.
* Dan Wheetman (music director) previously designed ATC's production of It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues. He is co-author of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, which was nominated for four Tony Awards and received a DramaLogue Award for Musical Direction for Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the Mark Taper Forum. His music-infused plays Appalachian Strings and Fire on the Mountain, written with director Randal Myler, were performed at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Denver Center Theatre Company, Meadow Brook Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, San Diego Repertory Theatre and the Barter Theatre in Virginia.
The creative team includes Vicki Smith (scenic designer), Robert Blackman (costume designer), Don Darnutzer (lighting designer), Eric Stahlhammer (sound designer); and Bruno Ingram (stage manager).
For ticket information for the Phoenix and Mesa runs of Hank Williams: Lost Highway, call the ATC box office in Phoenix at (602) 256-6995 or visit www.arizonatheatre.org.