Get your kicks with “Route 66” at NKU this weekend

The feeling of the open road and traveling across the country is bringing back many meaningful and fun memories to the audiences of “Route 66” at NKU.

“Route 66” began its run on July 9, as the second Commonwealth Theatre Company summer dinner theatre held in the NKU Corbett theater.

A lot of work has gone into the production, which will conclude on July 27, by the many performers and professionals such as show director and musical director Jamey Strawn.

Strawn has worked with the Commonwealth Theatre Company for 14 years and directed other shows such as “Forever Plaid” and “I Love a Piano.

The show tells the story of four guys who work in a Texaco gas station in Chicago and then get the idea to go on a road trip. They then journey along Route 66.

“Think Back to the Future,” Strawn said. “The beginning of the show is them singing songs about cars and garages and girls, of course.”

As they begin their journey, the gang stops in states like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.

“They sing songs from each of those areas along the way,” Strawn said. “It’s like if you’re going on a big trip like that, you take in as much of the culture as you can.”

The group finds themselves assuming the roles of that specific area. In Texas, they become cowboys while in Oklahoma they find themselves roaming the hills.

Route 66 is about the sights and sounds while it also about just travelling and the experience with a tone of comedy, of course.

“There are songs about being a trucker, about being chased by truckers,” Strawn said. “There’s a bit of a road rage, in a funny way.”

Once the group finally hits California, the songs shift to more Beach Boys theme with songs like “The Girl from Pasadena” and “I Get Around.”

Route 66 also features a lot of 1950’s commercials and sounds to encourage nostalgia while also being used as filler during the many costume changes that happen behind the scenes.

The crew starts out in the Texaco outfits and switches to their travel outfits with the leather jackets.

“The backstage show is probably more interesting than the onstage, in a way,” Strawn said. “Because they are constantly changing clothes. When they go offstage, they never rest, they’re always changing into something.”

It is estimated that the cast has 40-50 pieces of clothing each to wear Strawn said. Although the costumes appear to be simple outfits, every small detail counts and each performer has to quickly put it all on and take it all off.

Strawn hopes that the audience can reflect on their own adventures across the nation with the production.

“My hope with it is that the audience has a memory of the certain area they visited,” Strawn said. “I always think of the Cars movie. There’s that bittersweet sadness of the memories that were so great and the little bit of sadness that it all ended.”
“Route 66” will run its final shows this weekend.