Hazel, the Musical, Hopes to Clean Up at the Broadway Box Office

News   Hazel, the Musical, Hopes to Clean Up at the Broadway Box Office
Ted Key's cartoon character Hazel — best known for her appearance in a 1961-66 TV sitcom of the same name, played by Shirley Booth — might be singing on Broadway one day.

The first collection of Ted Key's Hazel cartoons, 1946
The first collection of Ted Key's Hazel cartoons, 1946

Composer Ron Abel (the musicals Rockwell: Life on a Palette, Twist of Fate, Blame It on the Movies) and lyricist Chuck Steffan (the musical Is This Your Life?) announced that they have acquired stage rights to the character, an opinionated live-in maid, from the estate of cartoonist Key.

Lissa Levin, a Kleban Award-winning playwright and Emmy-nominated producer, will pen the libretto. No production team, producer or timetable were announced. The songwriters say they are talking to actresses about headlining the part. (Paging Faith Prince?)

Most people under 40 don't know who Hazel is. The sweet and salty maid spoke her mind in the sitcom, in which she solved problems in the busy Baxter household.

The collaborators characterize Hazel as "one of the most beloved and enduring characters in the history of American popular culture." She's "the saucy maid whose wry attitude, infallible wisdom and heart of gold has captured the hearts of millions for more than 60 years."

Hazel first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. "We're thrilled to see Hazel finally coming to Broadway, it's something my father always dreamed of," Peter Key, son of Hazel's creator Ted Key and representative of the artist's estate, said in a statement. "Hazel has an inner humanity that projected well in both cartoons and on TV, and Dad always thought her character would project very well in theatre. The only medium he was never able to bring his work to during his lifetime was the live stage, and this lets both him and his most popular creation finally assume their rightful place on Broadway."

"The character of Hazel screams out to be a musical, she sings to us," composer Abel said. "She's the kind of character you'd love to introduce to your kids; a middle-aged woman that doesn't take guff, and has youth appeal. Hazel is completely ageless. Her inner humanity was unmistakable and very visible to all the people around her."

Hazel, the musical, will be a period piece, presumably set in the mid-20th century.

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