Dave’s 2’s Review of “Hank Williams Lost Highway”

Dave’s 2’s Review of “Hank Williams Lost Highway”

Hank Williams Lost Highway at the Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers.

Hank Williams Lost Highway at the Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers.

SOURCE: Florida Repertory Theatre

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned down-home night of nostalgic country music, then “Hank Williams Lost Highway” is just for you, and it’s playing now at Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers.

While I must admit I’m not a big country music fan, this is the kind of music I remember listening to at my great grandparents on 1170 WWVA Radio in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The city is mentioned and depicted in the show, and while it didn’t mention the Capitol Music Hall, that is clearly where Williams performed, so the reference was very real for me, a boy who grew up in West Virginia.

Real is probably the best way to describe the show as it begins with Hank Williams’ death at just 29 years old as it collides almost seamlessly with his humble beginnings.

Actor Sam Sherwood turns in an amazing class-action performance as the Alabama-born singer-songwriter; Sherwood has a lot of practice as a country music singer with some big performances, and his bio is worth checking out in the playbill.

While this is a musical, it may not feel like it, as the actors are the musicians. And whether you’re a fan of the music or not, just watching them perform is exciting and truly a tribute concert to the country icon.

It doesn’t take long to figure out the lost highway reference in the show’s title as Sherwood delivers an emotional performance of the troubled singer’s career as he battles drugs, alcohol, and a troubled marriage.

Hank Williams Lost Highway at the Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers.
Florida Repertory Theatre

The actor-musicians who make up his band include Jeremy Sevelovitz as Jimmy Burrhead, who picks an electric guitar throughout. Matt Cusack plays an awesome bass as the character Hoss. David Finch plays Leon Loudmouth and delivers a jaw-dropping performance on the violin, harmonica, and the spoons.

Vince Federici, who plays Shag, plays a steel guitar like nothing I’ve ever seen. The sounds that this instrument alone can produce define country music.

All of these gentlemen blend well together and are an absolute delight to watch.

Carolyn Messina is spot-on in her role as Williams’ protective mother, Mama Lilly, and Margaret Dudasik debuts as Hank’s wife, Audrey Williams and Dudasik convinces us she can’t sing, but she is a joy to watch in her bigger-than-life character.

You’re sure to love actor Noah Canales as Tee-Tot, the small-town singer with a deep, rich-pitched, almost baritone voice. He is great in this role and commands the stage.

These first-rate talented actor-musicians tell the story through song and with some familiars you’re sure to have heard of, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It on Over,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “Jambalaya (On the Bayou) and many more.

From the moment you enter the theater, you’ll see the beautiful set and realize you’re in for a beautiful show full of emotion, including humor and heartache. It’s the stuff country music songs are made of.

While the show seemed to drag just a little toward the end, overall, I thought it was a great evening of toe-tapping fun that took the audience back to a simpler time. I left with a smile on my face.

Seats for “Hank Williams Lost Highway” are going fast, and the show runs through April 14.

Get your tickets by calling the box office at 239-332-4488.