05-18-11-hankwilliams.jpg“Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You,” “Jambalaya” and “Honky Tonk Blues” are just a handful of the songs written, performed and recorded by the legendary Hank Williams.

Known as one of the most imporant musical artists of all times, Williams is known as much for his colorful life as he is music. In a short five-year period that started in 1947 and ended with Williams’ death at the age of 29, Williams wrote and recorded more than 35 hits. And for a two-week period this month, May 19-29, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre will bring the legend to life in Hank Williams: Lost Highway during its annual River Show.

Directed by Gina Stewart, the show will feature more than 20 of Williams’ songs, and will tell the story of his life from his perspective“

I love this script,” said Stewart. “It has all the great music in it. It doesn’t shy away from the true story. It really presents the man as a real human being. What makes me so passionate is what I’ve learned about Hank. He died at 29, and made his mark on music within a five-year period. I think the show is about the passion behind songwriting — he’s an artist who could take his passion and pain and turn it into music that can comfort people.”

Calling Williams a “passionate, volatile person that had some trouble in his life,” Stewart noted that his music came from the tragedies of his life.

“I love that this script doesn’t shy away from that,” she said.

Stewart has gathered what she calls the “A list cast.”

“This is the best, I wouldn’t trade anyone in this cast for anybody in the world,” said Stewart. “I just feel incredibly lucky. Not only is everybody fantastic, but Hank looks like Hank. He sounds like Hank.”

“When I heard the band, I was sold,” she said. “Bo called me and said, ‘I think Jerome and the Parsons are going to do the music,’ and I said, ‘I am in.’ We are so blessed. Everybody is so supportive and admiring of each other. It just works.”

Jon Parsons, of the Parsons Family, will play the role of Jimmy in the show, as well as providing the music.

“This script is just real,” he said.

Parsons said he grew up with Williams’ music, but he didn’t know a lot about his life.

“I know almost all of the songs, but I didn’t know about his life,” he said.

Parsons said that the band will be using musical instruments much like those in use when Williams was recording. “We are going to put the real deal out there, so this is really special for us,” he said.

“It’s really like having Hank here and having him tell you the story of where the songs came from,” added Stewart.

The show will be the theatrical debut of Cliff Hale. Hale, who has a striking resemblance to Williams, has been singing for a number of years.

“This is way new for me,” said Hale. “It’s lots of learning, I feel like my head is going to explode some nights when we leave here.

”All joking aside, Stewart said Hale and the remainder of the cast will put on a stellar show.

As in year’s past, patrons will have the option of dining at the river or buying show-only tickets. Tickets for the dinner theatre range from $25 to $28. Show-only reserved seating tickets range in price from $14 to $20 and show-only tickets are $12 to 18.

Bring your lawn chair or blankets and bug spray, but leave your coolers at home. Concessions will be available with beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks.

Reservations are required for the dinner theatre and reserved seating. No reservations are required for show-only tickets.

Dinner is served at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the show will be moved to the CFRT.

For more information or to reserve seats, call 323-4233.

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