Hats! — with Melissa Manchester — Begins Chicago Run April 20 | Playbill

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News Hats! — with Melissa Manchester — Begins Chicago Run April 20 The Chicago production of Hats! — the new musical inspired by The Red Hat Society that ended its world-premiere engagement at the New Denver Civic Center in December 2006 — begins performances April 20.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester heads the cast of the Chicago production, which will officially open at the Royal George Theatre April 29. The limited engagement will play through June 10.

Manchester, who plays MaryAnne, is featured in a cast that also includes Marilynn Bogetich (Lady), Alene Robertson (Contessa), Laura Walls (Duchess), Vickie Daignault (Baroness, u/s MaryAnne), Rosalyn Rahn Kerins (Dame), Kate Young (Princess, u/s Lady), Jane Brewer (u/s Baroness, Dame, Princess) and Wydetta Carter (u/s Contessa, Duchess, 2nd Baroness).

Hats, according to press notes, concerns "a 49.999-year-old woman, MaryAnne, who reluctantly faces the inevitable 50th birthday. In the production, MaryAnne warms up to her 50th once she meets several remarkable women who show her about fun and friendship after 50."

Hats! features direction and choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Written by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and Anthony Dodge, Hats! is based on the ideas of The Red Hat Society and boasts songs by Doug Besterman, Susan Birkenhead, Michele Brourman, Pat Bunch, Gretchen Cryer, Anthony Dodge, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Beth Falcone, David Friedman, Kathie Lee Gifford, Carol Hall, Henry Krieger, Stephen Lawrence, Melissa Manchester, Amanda McBroom, Pam Tillis and Sharon Vaughn.

The Red Hat Society, according to press notes, was created in 1998 when "Sue Ellen Cooper and a group of five friends, dressed in purple clothing and red hats met for afternoon tea. The word quickly spread, and over the past eight years, The Red Hat Society has become the fastest and largest growing women’s movement in the United States." In fact, the Society has formed more than 40,000 chapters around the world. Best known for such hits as "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Midnight Blue," "Come in From the Rain" and "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," Melissa Manchester has also appeared in theatrical productions of Song & Dance and Sweeney Todd. She also penned the musical I Sent a Letter to My Love, based on the novel by Bernice Rubens. The Grammy-winning artist's newest CD is titled "When I Look Down That Road."

The Royal George Theatre is located at 1641 North Halsted in Chicago, IL. Tickets, priced at $49.50, are available at (312) 902-1500 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.hatsthemusical.com.

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