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'Route 30, Too!' funny, touching and a great story

September 09, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Writer-director John Putch hosts a question-and-answer session following a screening of "Route 30 Too" Sunday at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pa.
By Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Filmmaker John Putch should have spent the weekend relaxing and celebrating his latest movie, but he was quick to help set up shots for a video interview.

Putch adjusted a tripod and lighting before settling in to answer questions about “Route 30, Too!” The movie debuted this weekend in the region where it was filmed and was received by enthusiastic crowds.

“They laughed a lot and had really fun questions, so I think it was a good premiere,” Putch said.

The newly released film is the second in a trilogy.

“The first movie was very personal. It was semiautobiographical about me and my father. When I decided to make the second one, I wanted it to have a lot more humor,” Putch said.

That humor is similar to the style of “Blazing Saddles,” he said.

Putch is the son of Totem Pole Playhouse’s former director William A. “Bill” Putch and actress Jean Stapleton. He retains great affection for his hometown.

“There’s no con really (to filming in the region). The pros are the people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, the locations are unusual and historic, and it means a lot to me because this is where I grew up,” Putch said.

About 10 actors attended the Sunday premiere. Among them were Curtis Armstrong, Noah Applebaum and Bob Romanus.

Romanus, who lives in Los Angeles, said the premiere crowds seemed to be hooked as soon as they saw the “Route 30” sign on the big screen at The Capitol Theatre.

“From that moment on, it’s a fabulous ride,” Romanus said.

Putch said the Saturday and Sunday crowds would find bits of humor that probably will be lost on film festival audiences.

“Showing it in this area, they’re the only ones that will get the inside jokes. I wrote it for them to play to them,” he said.

Area native Bernadette Bowman said she immediately recognized the “white woman” legend referenced in the film.

“People ride up Pond Bank Road looking for the white lady,” her husband, Tony Bowman, said of the ghost.

The Bowmans and his mother, Donna Bowman, watched the first “Route 30” on DVD.

“When watching them both, keep the remote handy because you’ll be rewinding, going, ‘Is that ...?’” Tony Bowman said of the southcentral Pennsylvania landmarks.

“Route 30, Too!” was filmed over about three weeks in December 2010. It has more than 125 visual effects, and features some local talent like Wil Love, Molly Lahr and Ed “Mister Ed” Gotwalt.

Armstrong previously worked at Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, Pa. He met Putch through work on the show “Grounded for Life.”

“It turned out I did the show and spent an entire week talking about Totem Pole,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said “Route 30” quickly became his favorite of the movies he has done.

“I told him as long as he wanted to do these movies, I’d be involved,” said Armstrong, who, like several other cast members, flew in from Los Angeles for the premiere showings.

Applebaum, who speaks English and Spanish in the movie, met Putch at a film festival seven years ago.

“He was kind enough to invite me along for this madness,” Applebaum said.

Los Angeles resident Applebaum described the Pennsylvania residents as helpful and the landscape as beautiful.

The frigid weather during filming caused problems with consistency as snow fell sporadically, Romanus said.

“He’s an amazing director to pull this together,” he said of Putch.

Romanus praised the producer’s strong use of the regional sites.

“This is all his exaggeration of his youth. ... It’s funny, it’s touching and it’s a great story,” he said.

“It’s a unique spin on a lot of universal themes that small-town folks can relate to,” Applebaum said.

DVD and Blu-ray copies will be sold at www.route30too.com.

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