Craft

The restored Sprague's Super Service in Normal opening this weekend will be one of the stops on "Hank and Rita's" movie odyssey.

For The Pantagraph

The kicks just keep coming for Terri Ryburn.

Saturday night's grand opening fete for Ryburn Place at Sprague's Super Service is the big one, of course,

It provides the fitting culmination to a dream that began more than a decade ago (see our related coverage in today's GO! for the full story).

A super-sized Pig Hip sandwich with all the trimmings, then, to both her and the town of Normal for rescuing another piece of our history and ensuring its survival for another generation's enjoyment.

Don't even begin to think, though, that this marks the end of Terri's Route 66-infused endeavors.

On the same afternoon we recently spent with her at the former Sprague's Super Service at 305 Pine St., Normal, she reminded us that there's still a feature-length movie in the works.

And if Terri dreams it, it will come .. either true, or, even something more concrete.

It almost always does.

The current working title for the movie (apt to change) is "Hank & Rita: The Comeback Tour."

It is set, circa 1986, along Route 66, of course.

With a stopover at 305 Pine, naturally.

First a quick recap: The rocky saga of married/harried ’70s pop duo Hank & Rita first played out locally at the Bloomington Eagles Club around 2½ years ago.

The fictitious, yet seemingly for-real duo, performed their show, "The Best of Hank & Rita: A Barroom Operetta" at the Eagles Club under the stewardship of Ryburn.

It began when Ryburn and a close friend traveled to Minneapolis to see one of her former students, ISU alum Ann Rosenquist Fee, do a show with her professional partner, Joe Tougas (also an ISU alum).

They are a couple in profession only, billed as The Frye. Their Hank & Rita alter egos were born after countless public inquiries as to whether Ann and Joe were, in fact, married.

"No ... not anymore," was Tougas' stock response, rendered so frequently that he was inspired to create fictional alter egos for the duo, then write an album's worth of songs for them to perform as they try to rekindle their one-hit-wonder ’70s success with a ditty called "The First Time (I Said I Loved You)."

But the show's tagline said it all: "See them now. Before it all goes to hell."

The two-night Eagles stand was going to be filmed, all the better to sell the show as grist for a feature-length road movie to be shot along Route 66 locales.

Sure enough, Terri got the resulting short film out on the film fest circuit, entering it in more than 32 festivals.

It wound up being accepted by five of them, earning kudos, honors and encouragement along the way.

The plan now, as it always was, is to expand the short film into a feature-length chronicle of the couple, with Tougas recently back in town to help hammer out a rough draft of the script with Ryburn and co-scenarist Kathi Davis.

Because of budgetary considerations, the original odyssey of the title characters, Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif., has been scaled down to the Illinois leg of that trek, with three locations: Joliet, Bloomington-Normal (Sprague Super Service included, of course) and Edwardsville.

The Illinois Film Office has become involved.

But nothing is more crucial to the film's eventual realization than the determination of Terri Ryburn.

"As anyone who knows me knows: when I set out to do something, I always finish it."

Coming sooner, or later, to a theater to you.

Scouting locations: Speaking of great locations ... some of you may have wondered where the photo for our story last week on Prairie Fire Theatre's production of "The Most Happy Fella" was taken.

Per the play's California vineyard setting, the shot was staged amid the scenic splendor of our own, closer-to-home Mackinaw Valley Vineyard outside of Mackinaw.

If you'd like to see more of that environment, there are plenty of more opportunities for what remains of the summer, including their Saturday night Concerts at the Vineyard series, 7 to 11 p.m.: Dexter O'Neal & Funk Yard, Aug. 12; The Shake, Aug. 19; United Groove Theory, Aug. 26; Jammsammich, Sept. 2; Patrick & Swayze Band, Sept. 9; Bubblegum Jack, Sept. 16; Highway J, Sept. 23; and PhannieRae & The Soul Shakers, Sept. 30.

Oh, and of, course the Annual Grape Stomp & Harvest Festival on Sept. 3, for your inner Lucy.

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at dcraft@pantagraph.com.

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