Hank Williams, the tall drink of water famous for country classics like “Hey Good Lookin’” “Jambalaya” and “Love Sick Blues” a legend in his own right is alive and well again on the Palace Stage. Currently the Palace Theatre in Georgetown, TX is producing “Hank Williams Lost Highway” and it is a treat to behold!
A large part of what makes this show work is the casting and direction by Production and Musical Director Lannie Hilboldt. Hilboldt has gathered a cast of talented musicians that can also act! The cast is filled with people who have a deep attachment to this music, the story behind it, and the message at the heart of it.
The cast is heralded by Robert Banta as the legend himself Hank Williams. Banta’s voice is a perfect fit for Williams,
and his characterization of “Skeeter” is exactly what you would expect. Banta is Hank Williams! Alongside Banta is a cast of supporting characters that do far more than support they create a world that you believe hook line and sinker! Starting with Linda Bradshaw as Momma Lilly, who creates a character who is stern and strict but shows that everything she does is out of love for her boy. Then there is Dr. Billy F Harden as Tee-Tot, Hank Williams musical mentor. Harden’s voice is full of sorrow and soul showing us where Williams learned the truth behind the love sick blues. Williams would never had been love sick if it wasn’t for Audrey the love of his life, played by Annie Violette. Violette creates a girl 10 years her junior with poise and grace. Violette as Audrey made me fall in love with her too! Plus it takes a strong woman to sing that off key on purpose! One of the figures that is often forgotten as an important part of any musicians’ life is their producer. The man behind the voice in this instance was Fred Rose founder of Rose-Acuff Music, considered the grandfather of modern country western music. In the Palace production Rose was portrayed by well-known Austin songwriter Robert Josef Cross. Cross gives a performance steeped in respect for this man, at the same time bringing some pep and style to this show. However one of the most stand out performances is by Marsha Sray as the un-named waitress who is on stage through most of the show but gives us some of the most in-depth look at what the world around Hank Williams thought and loved about him.
It’s not only the acting that makes this show spectacular the musicians in the Drifting Cowboys Band are incredible, Aaron Crowley, Mark Weber, Herb Steiner, and Paul Robertson. The music through-out this show is heartwarming, and makes you want to tap your toes!
The costumes, and scenic design are perfect for this setting. The scenic art is perfectly period, and really displays an air of poverty, while reminding us of the by-gone days of country dance halls! The costumes are fitting for each character, the clothes worn by the Drifting Cowboys and Audrey are like something straight out of the Grand Ole Opry!
I can honestly say this is the best show I have seen from the Palace theatre in over 2 years! This show is a sure fire nomination for awards across the board. Every aspect of this show is top notch and I am thoroughly impressed. This show gets a solid 5 out of 5 stars.