The world-premiere production of the pop rock musical Helldrivers of Daytona, which officially opened September 12 at The Royal George Theatre in Chicago, has canceled the remainder of its run.
Previews began September 8 for an anticipated run through October 30. However, negative critical response led to its cancellation.
A statement from the producers reads, “We all believed in Helldrivers of Daytona and more importantly believe in creating new works for the American Musical stage. We are disappointed by the critical response, but we knew that it was a risky endeavor. Still, many of the people who saw it were thoroughly entertained and delighted by the work of our fantastic cast and musicians. We have decided to close the production and we will evaluate how we might make changes for future productions of the musical. We want to thank our talented team of designers, our director and co-choreographer, our music director, our cast and crew, and of course our creative team who have all worked so diligently to get Helldrivers to the starting (and alas, finishing) line.”
The musical features music by Berton Averre, lyrics by Rob Meurer and a book by Emmy Award winner Mark Saltzman. Following various workshops, this production was billed as a “pre-Broadway tryout” produced by Natasha Davison (Gotta Dance, The Prom) and Richard Friedman (general manager at Theatre at the Center).
Directed and choreographed by Danny Herman with co-choreography by Rocker Verastique and musical direction by Linda Madonia, the cast included Samantha Pauly as Pepper, David Sajewich as Count Porcini Portobello and Jeff Award nominee James Nedrud as Lucky.
In Helldrivers of Daytona, according to press notes, “tensions flare as drivers compete for the top slot in the 1965 Daytona Speedway Jackpot 500. Amidst a sea of tanned surfers, speedway groupies, motorheads and bikini babes, Lucky Stubbs (James Nedrud) must find a way to win his dream girl, Pepper Johnson (Samantha Pauly), from rival driver Count Porcini Portobello (Jeff nominee David Sajewich), a dangerously enticing European hotshot. The race for love and glory is on in this spoof of 1960s Elvis-style rock movies, a ride that’s fast, furious and funny.”
Rounding out the cast were Trey Curtis, Aaron Davidson, Julia Rose Duray, Andres Enriquez, Claire Lilley, Rachel Melius, Leah Morrow and Chris Selefski, Cara Smith, Jerreme Rodriguez and Adrienne Storrs.
The production featured set design by Scott Adam Davis, costume design by Brenda Winstead, lighting design by Denise Karczewski, sound design by Barry G. Funderburg and Mike Patrick, properties design by Brittney O’Keefe and stage management by Kristi Martens.
The Royal George Theatre is located at 1641 North Halsted Street in Chicago. For tickets, call (312) 988-9000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
(Updated September 16, 2016)