One of the most unusual pop stars of the late 1960’s was Roger Miller. Born in rural Oklahoma, his roots were in Country music, but his great sense of humor exploded his talents to the Pop charts, and people from all walks of life and musical genres related to him. Crazy songs like “Dang Me” and “Chug A Lug” got Roger noticed, but Miller’s best known song “King Of The Road” got him worldwide attention, making him an international star. It has been featured in several films, and covered by countless artists.
His poor upbringing and early family conflicts forced Roger to deal with his adversity thru humor. It paid off big, as two years after first hitting the Pop charts, Roger had a network TV show, and several gold records. I watched the show as a kid, because one of my favorite radio DJ’s from my childhood was the announcer, Ed Hider.
There was never anyone else in the music business quite like Roger Miller. His early career captured him at least 14 Grammy’s. He hit Broadway some two decades later, winning the Tony Award for “Best Score” of Big River. Jesse Johnson, (son of TV’s Miami Vice star Don Johnson), plays Roger with the understated subtle style that so perfectly captures him.
Miller is constantly haunted on stage by the conscience of his younger self, played by young actor Braxton Baker. You will hear his name again, as this kid can both sing, and act. King Of The Road was penned by Cort Casady with the guidance of Roger’s third wife Mary Arnold Miller, who used to sing with the “First Edition”, and was introduced to Roger by the group’s leader, Kenny Rogers.
Director Andrew Barnicle fully covers all of Miller’s talents along with his many shortcomings. Lindsey Alley and Brittney Bertier competently play a wide array of singers, wives, and relatives of Roger’s, along with a great band. I got to meet Mary Arnold Miller, Jesse Johnson, Braxton Baker, and writer Cort Casady.
The Laguna Playhouse is a very comfortable setting. Rumor has it that Jesse’s dad, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith were in attendance Sunday evening. You can catch King Of The Road thru May 11th at the Laguna Playhouse.
Information: 949-497-2787; lagunaplayhouse.com