The oft-dubbed father of modern country music, Hank Williams, re- examines his rocky life on his last day on Earth in the world premiere drama, Nobody Lonesome for Me, playing previews Oct. 25-29 at Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk. The show opened Oct. 30 and runs through Nov. 15 at the historic Wells Theatre, the troupe's home.
Playwright Lanie Robertson, who also penned the popular Billie Holliday stage bio, Lady Day... , set his Williams drama in the landscape of the singer-songwriter1s mind, although the literal set is an empty West Virginia gas station (by designer Rob Odorisio).
An alcoholic and high school dropout, Williams (played by Los Angeles based actor Troy Allen Burgess) talks about happy and dark episodes in his life, revealing woes that helped both fuel and crush his young success as a performer.
Williams1 estranged ex-wife, his mother and his new bride are all part of the one-man show's narrative, enhanced by musician Shane Isenberg1s live music on guitar.
"Throughout the play," says New York playwright Robertson, "[Williams] is trying to reach out to the people he loves. What this play really is, is a final country love song."
Williams died in the back seat of a hired car on New Year's Day, 1953, on his way to a concert in Canton, OH. He was 29.
Virginia Stage artistic director Charlie Hensley, a longtime Williams fan, directs Nobody Lonesome for Me. Other designers are Brian Nason (lighting) and Patricia Darden (costumes).
The Wells Theatre is at the corner of Monticello Avenue and Tazewell Street in Norfolk. For ($18.50-$33.50) ticket information, call (757) 627 1234.
-- By Kenneth Jones