Drury Lane Theater’s World Premiere musical HAZEL March 31 – May 29, 2016

Blackhurst, Klea

Blackhurst, Klea

Drury Lane Theatre opens its 2016-2017 season with the World Premiere musical comedy Hazel, A Musical Maid in America, based on the character from the Saturday Evening Post comic strip and the 1960s TV comedy series starring Shirley Booth.Hazel features a book by Lissa Levin, music by Ron Abel, and lyrics by Chuck Steffan. This new musical is directed and choreographed by Emmy and Tony Award-winner Joshua Bergasse with musical direction by Roberta Duchak. Hazel runs March 31 – May 29, 2016 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace.

It’s the 1960s, a time of great change for America, but not all of the Baxter family is on board. What George Baxter finds not so funny about his wife joining the work force and his maid taking over his household and his life – is a laugh riot. Directed and choreographed by Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse, “Hazel” asks the question: can a simple maid debone a turkey, save a marriage, uncover a matter of national security and lead a conga line? She can if she’s Hazel!

“From the moment we discovered Hazel, we fell in love with it,” said Kyle DeSantis, President of Drury Lane Productions. “The production solidifies our commitment to fostering new work we believe in. Under the incredible direction of Joshua Bergasse, Hazel promises to delight and surprise our audiences.”

Hazel is based on one of the most beloved and enduring characters in American popular culture. Hazel, a saucy maid with a wry sense of humor, timeless wisdom, and a heart of gold, was created by cartoonist Ted Key and has been adored for more than 60 years. She first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943 as a single-panel cartoon and continued to delight readers of all ages until the magazine went out of print in 1969. Hazel was brought to life by Academy Award winner Shirley Booth on a TV sitcom of the same name, and ran for five award-winning seasons.

The cast of Hazel includes Klea Blackhurst (Hazel), Ken Clark (George Baxter), Summer Naomi Smart (Dorothy Baxter), Casey Lyons (Harold Baxter), Tyler Martin (Scotty Ferber), Ava Morse (Benedetta Bomicino), Rowan Moxley (Reuben Steuben), and Ed Kross(Bonkers Johnson). The ensemble includes Bill Bannon, Johnson Brock, Courtney Cerny,Brian M. Duncan, Roy Gantz, Rhett Guter, Terrance Martin, Shari Mocheit, Meghan Murphy, Kristen Noonan, Gerard Salvador and Holly Stauder.

The creative team includes Kevin Depinet (Set Design), Sully Ratke (Costume Design), Lee Fiskness (Lighting Design), Christopher Ash (Projection Design), Ray Nardelli (Sound Design) and Lucia Lombardi (Production Stage Manager).

2016 – 2017 Season and Subscription Information

Following Hazel, Drury Lane’s 2016 – 2017 season of will continue with Ira Levin’s murder mystery Deathtrap, June 9 – August 14, 2016, followed by Smokey Joe’s Café, featuring the iconic songwriting of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, September 1 – October 23, 2016, and the feel-good Gershwin musical Crazy For You, November 3, 2016 – January 8, 2017.  The season will conclude with a revised version of Saturday Night Fever, based on the popular ‘70s film with music by The Bee Gees, January 19, 2017 – March 19, 2017.

Subscriptions for the 2016 – 2017 Season are priced from $144.60 to $175.80.  Subscribers receive special offers on dining, flexible ticket exchanges and early notification and priority seating for added events and concerts. For more information, visit DruryLaneTheatre.com.

About Drury Lane Theatre

Under the leadership of President Kyle DeSantis and Artistic Director William Osetek, Drury Lane Theatre is a major force in the Chicagoland theatre scene, presenting world-class productions in collaboration with some of the nation’s leading actors, artists, writers and directors. Over the past 30 years, Drury Lane has staged more than 2,000 productions and has been nominated for more than 350 Joseph Jefferson Awards. Drury Lane is committed to breathing new life into beloved classics and introducing audiences to exciting new works.

Throughout its 30-year history, Drury Lane has employed more than 7,500 actors and 10,000 musicians, designers and crewmembers to entertain upwards of nine million audience members. Originally founded by Anthony DeSantis, Drury Lane Theatre remains a family-run organization known for producing breathtaking Broadway classics, top-rated musicals, bold new works, hilarious comedies and unforgettable concert events.

Notes of Interest:   

  • This production marks the World Premiere of the new musical Hazel, A Musical Maid in America.
  • In February 2016 Drury Lane Theatre named independent producer and casting director Laura Stanczyk to the newly created position of Director of New Works. Stanczyk had previously been an out-of-state, behind-the-scenes collaborator for Drury Lane and was instrumental in bringing both Hazel and last season’s pre-Broadway engagement of the new musical Beaches to the theater.
  • Director and Choreographer Joshua Bergasse won the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for his work on NBC’s “Smash,” and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Choreography for On the Town (his Broadway debut). Other recent Broadway credits include the 2015 revival of Gigi which starred Vanessa Hudgens and Victoria Clark.
  • Bergasse is also the choreographer of the new musical, Nerds, A Musical Dot-Comedy,which opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on April 21, 2016. Nerds tells the story of the rise of computer technology and the two men that made it all possible—Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Other upcoming projects include King Kong, and Bull Durham with producer Laura Stanczyk.
  • Hazel includes a book by Lissa Levin, whose TV credits include Cheers, Mad About You,Mr. Belvedere, WKRP in Cincinnati and Family Ties.
  • Music Director Roberta Duchak was the vocal coach to Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe for the film version of Les Misérables.
  • Star Klea Blackhurst burst onto the New York scene with her cabaret tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything the Traffic Will Allow, and her big brassy vocals have made her a favorite among musical comedy fans. She’s starred in Merman vehicles like Red, Hot and Blue andCall Me Madam at San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon and Anything Goes at the Shubert in New Haven. Her Off-Broadway credits include Radio Gals, Bingo, and Oil City Symphony.
  • The character of Hazel was created by Ted Key in 1943 and began appearing in theSaturday Evening Post. It soon became the most successful magazine cartoon of that time, with more than 29 million faithful readers. After the Saturday Evening Post folded in 1969, the panel was picked up for daily syndication by King Features and has appeared in over 50 newspapers.
  • The TV sitcom version of Hazel ran for five seasons and 154 episodes from 1961 – 1966. The first four seasons ran on NBC, while the final season was aired on CBS.
  • Star Shirley Booth received two Emmy Awards (1962 and 1963) and garnered a nomination for her third season (1964) for her role as Hazel on the TV sitcom. Booth also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Star (1964) and two nominations for the TV Land Award, Favorite Made-for-TV Maid (2004 and 2006).
  • Prior to her work on Hazel, Shirley Booth received the Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Come Back, Little Sheba, becoming the first actress ever to win both a Tony and an Oscar for the same role. She also received her third Tony, her second in the Best Actress in a Play category, for her performance in the Broadway production of Arthur Laurents’ play The Time of the Cuckoo.