The Night Hank Williams Died
by Larry L. King
Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 4m, 2f
"Amusing and ultimately poignant.... Captures the spirit of Hank Williams' homely poetry while adding a generous helping of Mr. King's Texas geniality and humor. The play is itself a plaintive country western song." - N.Y. Times
Thurmond Stottle, once the high school football hero, pumps gas in a tiny West Texas town and dreams of making it as a songwriter and country singer like his hero, the late Hank Williams. He whiles away his free time in Gus Gilbert's bar and waits for the right moment to take off for Nashville. The moment arrives with Nellie, his ex sweetheart who returns home because her marriage is breaking up. Thurmond plans to leave with Nellie if he can get a stake from Gus. When Gus turns him down, he robs the gas station, bludgeoning the owner. He returns to Gus' bar to hide but the sheriff knows just where to find him.
"The plot is strong, and there is no lack of incident or characters, but it is the rich Texas vernacular the rat tat tat of startling, bawdy similes and the funny throwaway linesthat gives the show its texture." - New Yorker
"Amusing and ultimately poignant.... Captures the spirit of Hank Williams' homely poetry while adding a generous helping of Mr. King's Texas geniality and humor. The play is itself a plaintive country western song." - The New York Times
- Minimum Fee: $75 per performance
- Time Period: 1950s
- Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
- Setting: Summer of 1952. The Sundowner Recreational Club in Stanley, Texas.
GUS GILBERT - 60s, owner/bartender at the Sundowner Recreational Club. Though somewhat cynical and scarred, he has a hidden sentimental streak.
NELLIE BESS POWERS CLARK - 25-26, Thurmond's former high school sweetheart. Though a good person, Nellie Bess is caught in a web of bad circumstances. In desperation she becomes extemely manipulative.
MOON CHILDERS - early to mid 50s, regular and best bud to Gus. A happy-go-lucky typer who lives in the moment.
SHERIFF ROYCE LANDON, JR. - mid 30s, a hotshot rookie sherrif who has succeeded his father. Bad blood between him and both Gus and Thurmond.
MRS. VIDA POWERS - mid to late 50s, mother to Nellie Bess and certified religious nut.
The Night Hank Williams Died premiered at the WPA Theatre in Manhattan on January 10, 1989. It was directed by Christopher Ashley.