Route 66 was once called “the Mother Road” or “the Main Street of America,” and was celebrated in song and in prose.
It comes alive in “Route 66,” a musical revue at the Springer Opera House’s Foley Hall beginning tonight.
Songs include “Dead Man’s Curve,” “King of the Road,” “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “Six Days on the Road,” “GTO,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around” and of course, the iconic Bobby Troupe-written “Route 66.”
Kimberly Hickman, is directing back-to-back shows. She directed “The Star-Spangled Girl” and went right into working on “Route 66.” Hickman is assistant to Paul Pierce, the Springer’s artistic producing director, and is also the tour manager. “Route 66” will be the Springer’s 2010 touring show. So far, it’s been booked for 48 shows in 43 cities.
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Hickman, like most of the cast, was young when the highway was decommissioned in 1985.
“I knew a lot of the songs because my father listened to a lot of the music,” she said. “It was very familiar to me.”
Hickman’s friends Beau Bisson and Eric Bricking, who were in the Springer’s first production of the show, offered advice.
A choreographer and dancer, Hickman has also added more dancing to the show.
“They are all great dancers,” she said. “It’s been really nice to take what the Springer did last time and build off it.”
The cast of four features Brian C. Gray, who sings bass; Reid Robinson, tenor; Casey Ross, second tenor and Dylan R. Hauck, baritone. Steve Zumbrun is the musical director.
Gray said they played a version of “six degrees of separation,” to get to know each other. They discovered that Hauck, who made his Springer debut last month in “Footloose,” went to Oklahoma City University with Gray. Gray and Robinson have worked together in the past.
Hauck likes “Route 66” for its “truly American sound” and Ross grew up listening to that type of music.
The songs were mostly new to Gray, though. He only knew “King of the Road” and a few of the Beach Boys’ songs before rehearsals.
“A lot of the music is country-western and ’60s rock. I did not grow up with any of it. So I’m learning a style of music that I didn’t know.”
Hauck and Gray both drove on parts of Route 66 when they lived in Oklahoma City. Ross traveled on parts of the historic road when he drove from California to his hometown of Dodge City, Kan., last year.
“It was fun to take the route,” he said.
The four men have been living in the Springer’s guest quarters, which they love. Being in rehearsals together for as much as 14 hours a day, they’ve begun to bond, which is essential since they’ll be doing this show January-May.
So what’s the one thing Ross has learned about the other three actors?
“They are all less talented that I am,” he joked.