Young American Grows Up

Weaned on a combination of Broadway musicals, Lawrence Welk, and classic rock, director- choreographer Ken Roht spent several years globe-hopping with the Young Americans (alongside

Desperate Housewives

creator Mark Cherry) before moving on to work with Iranian theater provocateur Reza Abdoh. Over the past four years, his annual 99-cent-store extravaganza has had broad appeal and a

Through the Looking-Glass

perversion. This year’s installation,

“Route 99”: Orange Star Dinner Show

— the most chaotic and convoluted yet — takes place in a Wyoming dinner theater run by a stage mom who always dreamed of spawning the ultimate girl group (à la the Andrews Sisters) and raised her children as such — despite two of them being boys. The lead, like the one in Sondheim’s musical


, is simply known here as Mama, and the other 25 cast members host a sit-down dinner for 40 audience members, onstage, amid bar brawls and Fosse-like dance numbers. Roht — whose fans include the fawning Michael Silverblatt (host of KCRW’s


) and the Skirball Foundation, which honored him with its Audrey Skirball-Kenis TIME award — collaborates here with songwriter John Ballinger and costumer Ann Closs-Farley (see article), as well as a motley cast of capable talents that includes actor Don Oscar Smith and actress/choreographer Sissy Boyd.

Click here to read Behind the Garb: The 99-cent costume crew by Seven McDonald

Click here to read Dam Christmas: A Mulholland Christmas Carol tours the Owens Valley by Steven Leigh Morris

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