A cross-country caper is coming at full speed to Stained Glass Theatre via the Jefferson City Home Educators’ Teen Club.
The first production of “The Great Caper Along Route 66” will run Sept. 21-23, with performances at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
Director Stephanie Smith tried something new with this production — her 10th — by writing the show, too.
“It’s difficult to find scripts that have several large roles for students,” she said. Even shows with large casts usually end up with a lot of performers on stage just once — something she wanted to avoid, she said.
The cast of 20 home-schooled students ages 13-18 — plus six more students in the stage crew — will perform in “a show filled with laughs, mystery, romance, conviction, mayhem and touching moments as teams compete in the Bicentennial Race of 1976 along Route 66,” according to the show’s description on Facebook.
Route 66 was a legendary American road that connected Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona on the way.
Though the construction of the interstate highway system made Route 66 obsolete, Smith said, the road is having a bit of a revival in terms of people re-discovering its significance and bringing establishments like restaurants along it back to life.
She’s a history teacher, too, and a story riding on the Americana cultural legacy of Route 66 was right up her alley.
There used to be an antique car race on Route 66, and “this group is loosely based on that,” Smith said.
“I didn’t really base this on anything,” like a book or movie, she explained of the script. “I like to be able to have something that’s multi-layered,” she added.
The story is “not primarily about the race itself, but all the things that happen along the way,” she said.
For example, one of the teams is international, and the audience gets to see their own country through the eyes of people from somewhere else.
All of the characters are fictional; “however, all of the places and people that are referenced in the script are real,” Smith said.
The car on stage in the show will not be real, per se, but “we have a very phenomenal car that we are constructing,” Smith said. She wanted a prop as close to a working car as they could get.
She hopes audiences of any age can connect with the story, whether through memories of their own experiences on Route 66 or by learning new things about it.
Tickets can be ordered by calling 573-301-4908 or emailing JCHETeenTheater@gmail.com. Tickets will be $7 each. While they will be for sale for the duration of the show’s run, Smith encourages people to buy ahead of time because shows do sell out.