Go ahead, wear your heart on your sleeve. That’s the dress code of “Where the Great Ones Run,” Mark Roberts’ sweet tale of fame and regret. A 99-seat “Crazy Heart,” this tender 80-minute dramedy has the makings of a mellow hit for Rogue Machine Theatre.
Country music star Sonny Burl (Jeff Kober) has left a trail of human debris on his way to the top: estranged wife Marylou (Holly Fulger), who runs a truck stop in their Indiana hometown; feisty daughter Julie (Lily Holleman), now coming out as a lesbian; and boozing Buddy (Mark St. Amant), who started out with brother Sonny on the road to stardom but lost his way. When Sonny comes home to make amends, there are tears, nostalgia and plenty of fresh coffee.
True, these tropes feel as familiar as your favorite Hank Williams tune, but Roberts, director Mark L. Taylorand an agreeable cast make a predictable story worth the trouble. Stomping and sulking on Keith Mitchell’s cozy diner set, the characters grow on you, and you’re content to watch them (inevitably) do the right thing.
Roberts, the creator of “Mike & Molly,” has a quick way with a one-liner, even if he overpopulates the stage, proliferating subplots while missing the opportunity for more musical numbers. No matter. Kober is credible as a star, and Jennifer Pollono steals the show as a waitress who over-shares. Rode hard and put away wet? “Great Ones” offers easygoing respite.
“Where the Great Ones Run,” Theatre Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 8. $30. (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.