Hazel the musical hopes to clean up with the critics when it gets its world premiere at Chicago's Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre April 6.
The musical is based on the long-running comic strip of the same name, which also served as the basis of a 1960s TV series with Shirley Booth as Hazel. Actress and club singer Klea Blackhurst plays the title role of a wisecracking and supremely capable housemaid.
Hazel, which features music by Ron Abel, lyrics by Chuck Steffan and a book by Lissa Levin, opens the Oakbrook Theatre's season with a limited engagement through May 26. Previews began March 31. Emmy Award winner and Tony nominee Joshua Bergasse directs and choreographs.
Blackhurst is joined by Ken Clark as George Baxter, Summer Smart as Dorothy Baxter, Casey Lyons as Harold Baxter, Ava Morse as Benedetta Bomicino, Rowan Moxley as Reuben Steuben, Davu Smith as Scotty Ferber and Ed Kross as Bonkers Johnson.
The ensemble for Hazel features Bill Bannon, Johnson Brock, Courtney Cerny, Brian M. Duncan, Rhett Guter, Terrance Martin, Tyler Martin, Shari Mocheit, Meghan Murphy’, Kristen Noonan, Gerard Salvador and Holly Stauder.
The new musical is described thus: “It’s the 1960s, a time of great change for America, but not all of the Baxter family is on board. And what George Baxter finds not so funny about his wife joining the work force, and his maid taking over his household and his life, becomes the stuff of comedy. Meanwhile, Hazel asks the question: Can a simple maid de-bone a turkey, save a marriage, uncover a matter of national security and lead a conga line?”
The design team includes musical direction by Roberta Duchak, scenic design by Kevin Depinet, costume design by Sully Ratke, lighting design by Lee Fiskness, sound design by Ray Nardelli, projection design by Christopher Ash and wig and hair design by Rick Jarvie.
Following Hazel at Drury Lane will be Ira Levin's Deathtrap, running June 9-August 14. The play is described as such: "This hugely popular stage and screen success — and one of the longest-running plays on Broadway — is a skillful blend of thrills and laughter as humor meets homicide. The story? Unknown dramatist Clifford Anderson has sent his new thriller, Deathtrap, to award-winning Broadway author Sidney for comment. After Sidney plots how to best plagiarize the new play, Clifford suddenly turns up looking for feedback, and events take a sinister turn in a deadly cat-and-mouse game."
Next in the season will be Smokey Joe's Cafe, which will be presented September 1-October 23, and features music and lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Smokey Joe’s Café, according to press notes, "showcases the golden age of America with nearly 40 pop standards written by the legendary duo of Leiber and Stoller. Featuring a score with such jukebox hits as 'Yakety Yak' and 'Stand by Me,' the show, performed by an ensemble cast, turns classic rock 'n' roll into song and dance for the stage. Nominated for seven Tony Awards, including best musical, when it debuted on Broadway in 1995, the production became the longest-running revue in Broadway history."
Following will be Crazy for You November 3-January 8, 2017. Crazy for You includes music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a book by Ken Ludwig. The musical is described as such: "Crazy for You follows Bobby Child, a New York banker with a craving for show business, who is sent to foreclose on a theatre in a small mining town in Nevada. After falling in love with a local girl, Polly, he vows to put on a show to save the failing theatre. The show is laced with such memorable Gershwin tunes as 'I Can’t Be Bothered Now,' 'I Got Rhythm,' 'Nice Work if You Can Get It' and 'Someone to Watch Over Me.'"
Closing the season will be Saturday Night Fever, which is scheduled for January 19-March 19. The show was written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti and features the songs of the Bee Gees. The musical is described as such: "Saturday Night Fever … follows Tony Manero, a clerk at a hardware store in Brooklyn, who lives for Saturday nights at the local disco where he’s no longer the inconspicuous paint mixer but the king of the dance floor. Following his passion, Tony takes part in a dance competition with the elusive Stephanie Mangana, where love meets competition."
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