This tuneful, jokey, nostalgic entertainment, created by Roger Bean, fits in along the spectrum of recent musical revues someplace between Forever Plaid and Pump Boys and Dinettes (minus the Dinettes). Four playful lads, uniformed as Texaco service station attendants circa 1950, sing, solo or in close harmony, more than two dozen songs that played on radio and television mainly during the 1940s, '50s and '60s. They kick off the fun with the theme from Milton Berle's 1948 Texaco Star Theatre ("You can trust your car to the man who wears the star") and proceed in rough chronology through several pop genres, sticking more or less to the themes of motoring and the geography surrounding that titular highway memorialized by Bobby Troupe's 1946 hit, which they of course sing, "Get Your Kicks (On Route 66)," which was also the theme song for the 1960 TV show.
There are novelty songs, such as "Beep, Beep" and "Rolaids, Doan's Pills, & Preparation H," some numbers from that gray area where rockabilly shades into early rock 'n' roll, country & western ballads about truck drivers, and much else. Familiar old faves such as Roger Miller's "King of the Road" fit smoothly with a lot of other relatively obscure but equally delightful stuff, making this trip along Route 66 something of a voyage of musical discovery. Brian Baker's musical arrangements blend the four voices most effectively as the show drives into the home stretch with a medley from Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson proves to be the songwriter most represented in this show, with shared credits for "Dead Man's Curve," "Little Old Lady from Pasadena," "Fun, Fun, Fun," and "I Get Around."
The four, who sing excellently both in consort and individually, adopt comic personas to enhance their antics. Scott Dreier plays the farcically beset straight man, Paul James Kruse is the bewildered fat boy, Robert J. Townsend comes across as vain and seductive, and Spencer Moses does the clueless doofus. As staged, directed, and choreographed by Brian Wells and David Brannen, much of the high jinks and horseplay are original to this production, involving audience participation, female impersonation, and some quite literal toilet humor. Don LeMaster is musical director, but most of the accompaniment is prerecorded, although the performers sometimes play instruments. Scenic artists Linda Gilbreath and Kristen Flores have created a set—including perfect period gas pumps—that harmonizes excellently with this beautifully restored and redecorated 1947 small-town cinema.
"Route 66," presented by Music & Theatre Artists of San Diego in association with and at Ramona Mainstage Theatre, 626 Main St., Ramona. Fri. & Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Feb. 5-indefinite. $28-$32. (760) 789-7008.