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 Gypsy,
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 Bookworm)
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
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