CHICAGO – Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines…and prepare for a bumpy ride! The rubber will meet the road as the World Premiere of the hilarious new pop rock musical HELLDRIVERS OF DAYTONA takes the stage, previewing September 8, opening September 12 at 7:30 p.m., and running through October 30 at The Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted Street, Chicago. With music by Berton Averre (The Knack), lyrics by Rob Meurer (Platinum Records with Christopher Cross), and book by Emmy Award-winner Mark Saltzman (The Tin Pan Alley Rag, The Adventures of Milo and Otis), these award-winning creative minds have put the pedal to the metal in this NASCAR-themed musical full of girls, cars, and rockin’ guitars.
In HELLDRIVERS OF DAYTONA, 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.
“This is all just big, loud, vulgar, sexy fun,” said writer Mark Saltzman.
“Getting this show from the garage to the starting line has been a great adventure, requiring guts, luck, and tremendous teamwork by a top-notch creative team,” said Producer Natasha Davison. “Now the racing Gods have come together at a great theatre in a great location in the best theatre city in America to launch a brand new, edgy and fun spectacle with a fresh, talented cast. People should get ready to feel the Vrooom!”
Following stagings and workshops for the show in Texas, Wyoming, Illinois and California, the World Premiere of HELLDRIVERS OF DAYTONA in its pre-Broadway tryout at The Royal George Theatre is produced by Natasha Davison (Gotta Dance on Broadway, The Prom at The Alliance Theatre) and Richard Friedman (General Manager at Theatre at the Center, Mind Over Chicago at the Apollo Theater, Ring of Fire at The Mercury, Always…Patsy Cline at the Apollo Theater) and will be directed and choreographed by Danny Herman (Numerous World Premiere credits, Pre-Broadway workshop of Scandal, National Tour of Dreamgirls) with co-choreography by Rocker Verastique. Musical Director Linda Madonia will bring the score, featuring a rollicking mix of power pop and rock and lush Beach Boys-flavored harmonies, to life.
Joining Pauly as “Pepper”, David Sajewich as “Count Porcini Portobello” and Jeff Award Nominee James Nedrud as “Lucky” in HELLDRIVERS OF DAYTONA are Trey Curtis as “Kahuna”; Aaron Davidson as “Cardoc”; Julia Rose Duray as “Margaret Ann”; Andres Enriquez as “Pitstop”; Claire Lilley as “DeeDee”; Rachel Melius as “Mary Lou”; Jeff Award Nominee Leah Morrow as “Laura” and Chris Selefski as “Horndog”. The cast also includes Cara Smith, Jerreme Rodriguez and Adrienne Storrs.
The production will feature 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.
Performances will be Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $55 to $65. Tickets will be on sale at The Royal George Theatre and may be purchased by calling 312.988.9000. Box office hours are 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will also be available to be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com. Group ticket discounts are also available online at grouptheatertix.com or by calling 312.423.6612 or toll free at 866.809.3075.
About the Creative Team:
Berton Averre (Music) – Berton has had a lifelong love affair with popular music. As the lead guitarist of the rock group The Knack, Berton co-wrote their hit single, “My Sharona,” which was awarded Billboard magazine’s 1979 Song of the Year, and their first album set a record for going gold in two weeks. In between The Knack and musical theatre Berton recorded and performed with such disparate artists as Robbie Krieger of The Doors, Bette Midler, The Cowsills, Sarah Brightman, and singer-songwriter Jack Tempshin. Berton and longtime writing partner Rob Meurer launched “Jungle Man!” at Stage One in Wichita, and with Rob and Mark Saltzman “Setup and Punch” in Los Angeles.
Rob Meurer (Lyrics) – Rob’s musical theatre collaborations with Berton Averre have been seen in productions and festivals in Chicago, Los Angeles, and regionally, as well as featured in the ASCAP/Disney Workshop, which awarded them participation in the In The Works program at the Kennedy Center. Rob came to prominence in 1980 through his keyboard and arranging work on Christopher Cross’ Grammy-sweeping debut album, and has toured the world extensively with major acts. He was Music Director for Shelley Duvall’s celebrated Showtime series, Faerie Tale Theatre, and been awarded gold and platinum records as well as being thrice cited for excellence by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. See (a lot) more at robmeurer.com.
Mark Saltzman (Book) – Beginning his career with Jim Henson and the Muppets, Mark Saltzman won seven Emmy Awards for his songs and sketches for Sesame Street (including the words and music for “Caribbean Amphibian”). For the movies, he wrote The Adventures of Milo and Otis and Three Ninjas Kick Back. For network TV, Saltzman wrote the WGA-Award nominated Red Sneakers with Gregory Hines, and the Emmy-winning TV musical Mrs. Santa Claus starring Angela Lansbury with songs scored by Jerry Herman. Mark’s stage musical The Tin Pan Alley Rag was produced at New York’s Roundabout Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse and throughout the country. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a graduate of Cornell. For more information on Mark Saltzman, visit www.MSaltzman.com.