Hank Williams Lost Highway Playguide

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Hank Williams Lost Highway Playguide

Text of Hank Williams Lost Highway Playguide

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    Spotlight Matthew Brumlow .p. 2

    Interview with Damon and Matthew...p. 3-4

    Hank Williams

    F A L L 2 0 1 3

    Country and Western Music..................p. 8-9

    Created By Kelli Marino, Dramaturg

    FALL 2013

    The Grand Ole Opry and The Louisiana Hayride ..p. 7

    The Stage Biography ...p. 5

    His Music and Audrey

    ...........p. 6 Copyright 2013

    American Blues Theater



    Hank Williams is no stranger to Matthew Brumlow. American Blues ensemble member has previously played the country singer in a premiere solo show called NOBODY LONESOME FOR ME at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The show was written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Sandy Ernst. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel singled out the production in it's Best of 2011 Theatre Section as "one of the top solo shows of the year."

    Critics in Milwaukee universally lauded his performance, and the show even took him to Kansas Citys American Heartland Theatre, where he continued to amaze audiences with his personal characterization of Hank, along with his well-tuned voice. New York Director/Actor Craig Fols directed the show.

    Chicago Actor Matthew Brumlow glides from unmistakable southern drawl to signature yodel and strums along to the songs interspersed between one-sided conversations. His expressiveness also conveys the pain caused not only by Hanks spina bifida and substance abuse, but his disappointing and impoverished past. [] Brumlow holds the audience with the rapt intensity of praises and curses, of laughter and tears. Killing time between a series of emotional phone calls, Brumlows soliloquies detail Williams failed marriage and impoverished backwoods upbringing, peppered with bittersweet moments of happiness. Brumlows Williams unravels just a bit more with each shot of Jack Daniels. Rosy Ricks, Third Coast Daily

    Matthew Brumlow, performing this show for the second time this year, embodies the version of Williams envisioned by Robertson but brings much more to the table by virtue of his own abilities. []

    Brumlow captures all of that more in a performance that is precise, nuanced, subtleand at the same time bigger than life. Just as his songs would suggest, Hank felt more highs and lows than the average person and Brumlow deftly maneuvers the shifting emotional landscape between the two extremes. Robert Trussell, KC Star

    When Brumlow spoke about creating the character of Hank for American Blues Theaters production of LONESOME HIGHWAY, and finding him within his music, Brumlow also noted that he enjoyed speaking with NOBODY

    Spotlight on Matthew Brumlow, American Blues Theaters Hank Williams

    FALL 2013 LONESOMEs audience members after each performance. I soon found that Hank fans are much like Elvis fansthey are passionate about his music and they are legion. I never got tired of talking to audience members, particularly older audience members who would tell me so many wonderful stories of when they saw Hank live and even talked with him after a show. After hearing those stories, I now have an even deeper connection with the power of Hank's music.

    As an actor prepares for a role based on a real person, like Hank, many actors study the individual, their history, view video footage or read biographies about their subjectit is a starting point for actors in biopic performance pieces. But Matt did not want to recreate Hank on stage, or do an impersonation; rather, with NOBODY LONESOME FOR ME and now LOST HIGHWAY, he strives to create a stronger, more complex character. We have very few visual recordings of Hank, remarked Brumlow, but I have found that to be a blessing rather than a curse in my preparation. If I tried to do an impression of Hank, I would fall flat on my facethere was only one Hank.

    When he visited Montgomery and the Hank Williams Museum, people told him the only way to know Hank was to listen to his music because what was inside, comes out. So, I listened to Hank, a lot. And I always hear more and more with every listen. I hear the great American rural poet; I hear the rowdy hillbilly; I hear the boy who learned the blues from an old black street singer named Tee-Tot; I hear the voice of a lost soul searching for redemption; I hear the scorned lover and the cheater; I hear the voice of a child, an honest voice. Hank said to a friend one time If you wanna make it, you can't fake it...you gotta live it. Hank certainly experienced more highs and lows than the average human being...and for better or for worse, he lived it."

    Brumlow gave one final quote on Hank Williams from Country Artist George Jones There was something about Hank that was just realthat's why he was so bighis songs were about these people and not just one of 'em but, hell, all of 'em. It is these reasons that he thinks Hank's story is perfect for American Blues Theater. If you go back to our founding in 1985 and our original mission statements, we are about delivering great and powerful stories with which, particularly, a blue collar audience can connect. Plain speech, raw and real. We will all try to live it every night as we tell his story. And have a lot of fun along the way as well.



    An Interview with Damon Kiely and Matthew Brumlow

    KM: Please tell me a brief history of your work with American Blues. DK: I was the Artistic Director of ATC from 2002-2007. In my five years we doubled the budget and audience, and rewrote the mission statement to ask, "What does it mean to be an American?. We had many successful productions during that period including OKLAHOMA! THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, AMERICAN DEAD, and THE HAIRY APE. MB: I joined the American Blues ensemble in 2001 during Brian Russells tenure immediately after appearing in the critically-acclaimed productions of CATCH 22 and WORKING. I now have 15 production credits with American Blues as an actor including THE HAIRY APE, OKLAHOMA! A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, KID SIMPLE AND TRUE WEST AND TOPDOG/UNDERDOG.

    KM: I know that you both worked on OKLAHOMA! together. Tell me about that experience. DK: The collaboration between Matt, music director Malcolm Ruhl, and myself for OKLAHOMA! was central to the shows success. MB: OKLAHOMA! remains one of my all time favorite shows with Damon. DK: The singing was simple, the lyrics were important, we weren't after soaring Broadway voices. Also, the instrumentation was stripped down to banjo, guitar, bass, and fiddle. MB: I think Damon lets actors do their work. He doesn't micromanage and he fosters a very open collaborative spirit. He is one of my absolute favorite directors, and I think he is immensely talented, articulate and intelligent. He asks the right questions. I am ecstatic to work with him again! DK: We listen to each other and try to find the best way without ego.

    Do you think that there are things from OK!, that you will be able to draw from in HANK? MB: As soon as Wendy acquired the rights, I immediately hoped Damon

    would direct LOST HIGHWAY due to that OKLAHOMA! experience. Damon and I are both interested in doing some of the same things with LOST HIGHWAY that we did with OKLAHOMA! really grounding it and exposing the dirt under the nails. DK: The music and instrumentation for LOST HIGHWAY is similar to that of OKLAHOMA!. Hank sang with a very simple direct style. He wanted his story to reach his audience. MB: The music will pop and the production values will be slick, but not at the expense of the story and the characters, particularly Hank himself, who was definitely all rough edges.

    KM: What drew you to work on HANK? DK: I was asked to read HANK WILLIAMS: LOST HIGHWAY by Wendy Whiteside and I thought it was pretty good, and an interesting read. Once I heard Matt sing the songs at the reading, I was more than sold. Quite frankly he's so good at capturing the heart and soul of Hank Williams that he could just sing a concert and it would be worth the price of admission. MB: I am a Georgia boy so I grew up listening to Hank. Like Hank, I had strong women in my life: my mom was and is a powerful presence in my life, and my grandmother, who I affectionately refer to as Nanny, equally raised me. If you walked into Nanny's small house, you were going to hear Elvis, Johnny Cash or Hank on her record player...and always a Hank hymn on Sundays. As I got older, I can't say I listened to Hank as much, but it was always residing in the fabric of my subconscious. When I first had the opportunity to work on Hank's songs, they came back so quickly and triggered deep waves of emotion. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Sandy Ernst, the former casting director for Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, who gave me the opportunity to play Hank in the world premiere of a great solo show called NOBODY LONESOME FOR ME.

    KM: Did you have previous knowledge of Hank Williams, his story, his life, and his songs? DK: I sort of knew Hank Williams, but not that much. I'd heard his music but not studied it. MB: When I first started working on Hank, I took a trip to the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. I had great conversations with folks about Hank, his life, and his music; I was surprised to hear so many funny stories. It is easy for people to think about sadness with Hank knowing his struggles with the bottle, and the sad songs he wrote and sang with such conviction. His life wasn't just sadness though. Various band members talked of his sense of humor, his cockiness, the way he could work a crowd, how his legs would get goin' during a bluesy honky tonk number, the comics he would read, and the jokes he would tell. Those facts are an important part of the story to me...to expose that Hank to people.

    KM: Can you tell me about his musical influ