A new musical about the life and work of Roger Miller, one of the greatest, and funniest, stars of classic country music is now running in California. King of the Road: The Roger Miller Story is playing at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, Orange County until 14 May.
Miller, born in 1936 in Fort Worth, Texas, made his first appearance in the US country charts in late 1960. He became one of the genre’s best-known crossover stars with such hits as ‘Dang Me,’ ‘Chug-A-Lug,’ ‘Engine Engine #9,’ ‘England Swings’ and of course his signature song, ‘King of the Road.’
The new musical rendition of his story was co-written by his widow, Mary Arnold Miller, with Cort Casady. The play is directed by Andrew Barnicle, in a production with four speaking roles and four musicians, and musical direction by Omar D. Brancato. Miller is played by Jesse Johnson, with Braxton Baker taking the role of the younger man.
The script for King of the Road moves back and forth between a childhood spent in rural Oklahoma and the ups and downs of his Grammy-winning, chart-topping career. The musical has been praised by the Orange County Register, whose Eric Marchese wrote that the show “is a fitting legacy to a man many only know for the songs ‘King of the Road’ and ‘Dang Me’ but who most will discover, until seeing it, they barely knew at all.”
Miller died at the age of just 56, with 42 country chart entries to his name, in 1992. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.