Chicago – Described as Grease meets Hairspray with a dash of Xanadu, the new musical Skates announces plans for its triumphant premiere to Chicago this spring! American Idol favorites Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young return to lead a stellar cast in this completely original, family-friendly musical, co-created by Christine Rea (book/lyrics) and Rick Briskin (music/lyrics), with direction by Brenda Didier, choreography by Christopher Chase Carter and music direction by Daniel A. Weiss. Skates enjoyed three preview performances in March 2020 before the worldwide shutdown. Defying the odds, this unstoppable show is ready to thrill audiences as the first major production in the newly-renovated Studebaker Theater inside the historic Fine Arts Building (410 S Michigan Ave, Chicago). Performances begin May 25, 2022.
Tickets for Skates A New Musical are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.fineartsbuilding.com/
events/skates or by calling 312-753-3210.
In addition to Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, returning cast members include Kelly Felthous, Nik Kmiecik and Adia Bell. Additional casting yet to be announced.
Just six days from opening before the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, and then losing its home when The Royal George Theatre was put up for sale, the new musical Skates is the definition of resilience taking the show’s theme of “girl power” to the next level! Producing duo Christine Rea (HHWTS Productions) and Mary Beidler Gearen (Mary Beidler Gearen Productions) are proud to present at last the next big American musical sensation at the storied Studebaker Theater.
Creator/Producer Christine Rea notes, “A primary theme and the heart behind Skates—a story inspired by my childhood love for the roller rink and South Side Chicago roots—is one of belief. Believing in yourself and in the beauty of your dreams. That belief has sustained and fueled me through the challenges of the shutdown and recent loss of the Royal George Theatre. The opportunity to premiere Skates at the glorious Studebaker Theater—a space where theatrical giants such as Ethel Barrymore and Helen Hayes once trod its boards—is a magical dream come true. It has been a long wait, but I am truly grateful that Chicago, my hometown, will be the first to experience the unfettered joy and rockin’ party that is Skates.”
Producer Mary Beidler Gearen adds, “Working as a producing partner on Skates has been a great joy. Christine Rea and I bonded as actors in 1993 doing Wuthering Heights at Bailiwick Rep. To have reforged that bond in 2011 to begin the development of Skates has been extraordinary. Christine has a deep understanding of what she wants to achieve with Skates. This is a wonderfully fun, challenging show with all new book and music which Christine and Rick have created. We are so excited to begin this journey in Chicago before Skates continues its path to stages across the country and internationally. To quote from the show, FORWARD MOTION!”
Skates is a coming-of-age story with a twist. It’s 1994 and rock star, Jacqueline Miller has a lot to celebrate. She’s headlining her first national tour, has a hit record and is riding high. In the midst of this, she has agreed to kick off the gala re-opening of her beloved childhood roller rink, Windy City Skates. When complications hit her head-on, she takes a retrospective journey back to 1977 and finds herself again when she meets up with her 12-year-old self and all the people who have made her who she is. From the wisdom of the Ouija Board, to the power of All-Skate Saturday, Skates explores the magic and hope of finding your one true love while still being true to yourself.
The creative team for Skates A New Musical includes Christopher Rhoton (scenic design), Lindsay McWilliams (costume design), Chris Merriman (lighting design), Bruce Yauger (sound design), Bob Cline (casting director), William Collins (production stage manager) and Lisa Dozier/LDK Productions (general management).
For more information about the world premiere of Skates, visit www.SkatesTheMusical.com.
About the Artists
DIANA DeGARMO (Jacqueline Miller) Diana DeGarmo has been blowing away audiences with her powerful voice and irresistible charm over the past decade. She was runner-up on American Idol’s Season Three at the mere age of 16. After, she released her first single “Dreams” that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. At 18, Diana made her Broadway debut in Hairspray as Penny Pingleton and later starred in the Off-Broadway cult hit, The Toxic Avenger. She made a name for herself on the Daytime TV Drama hit, The Young And The Restless. In 2010, she joined the Broadway revival of HAIR where she met her now husband, Ace Young. The two became a dynamic singing and song-writing team and later toured in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Diana recently starred in the Asian Tour and NSMT production of Jekyll & Hyde. Her new album, GEMINI, is out now!
ACE YOUNG (Blake/Russ Reiner) Ace Young, creative chameleon, has worn every hat in the entertainment industry from acting and directing to composing and singing songs. By the time he was introduced to the world on the most successful season of American Idol, Season Five, he had already performed, created and produced music for a major motion picture and toured the country with R&B royalty. In 2008, he received a Grammy nomination for “It’s Not Over,” co-written with fellow American Idol star Chris Daughtry. He made his Broadway debut in Grease and met his wife two years later while appearing in HAIR. He then toured with Diana in the title role of Joseph in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
HHWTS PRODUCTIONS (Producer) Skates co-creators and married couple Christine Rea (Book/Lyrics) and Rick Briskin (Music/Lyrics) share more than 60 years of theater and music business between the two of them. As creative producers of HHWTS Productions LLC, they strive to deliver universally appealing shows with timeless and enduring messages. Upcoming: The Studebaker Theater, Skates, A New Musical about Life, Love & the Roller Rink. Recent: Off-Broadway, The Crusade Of Connor Stephens, a new play; Hamilton Stage (UCPAC) 2017, Hit Her With The Skates. Ms. Rea is a proud graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute. www.
MARY BEIDLER GEAREN PRODUCTIONS (Producer) Mary is passionate about the support and development of new work. Off Broadway producing projects include: All Is Calm – The Christmas Truce Of 1914, by Peter Rothstein, which won the Drama Desk Award 2019 for “Unique Theatrical Experience” and was subsequently filmed for PBS release in 2020. The Crusade Of Connor Stephens, by Dewey Moss featured James Kiberd. Before I Disappear, written by and featured Alexandra Billings. Mary also developed and directed. (The Los Angeles production earned two ADA award nominations.) Mary is delighted to be back in Chicago where she won two After Dark Awards for her performances at Bailiwick Repertory Company. The Bailiwick production she directed of The Christmas Schooner earned 5 Jeff Award nominations. She is thrilled to have been involved with Skates since 2014. Forward Motion!
About the Studebaker Theater
In 1898, Fine Arts Building created the historic Studebaker Theater, originally built to house vaudevillian performances and later expanded into large productions in the 1920s. During subsequent years, performances by Bob Hope, Peter O’Toole, and Vincent Price graced the stage. Studebaker Theater continued throughout the years being known as one of the most important live theatrical venues in Chicago, receiving landmark status in 1978.
In the 1970s, the city underwent a downturn in live theater attendance and the Studebaker was converted into four separate motion picture cinemas. Eventually in the year 2000, the Studebaker was closed entirely, and in 2005, Fine Arts Building underwent new ownership. After extensive restoration efforts began in 2015, Studebaker Theater reopened for live performances. Another major renovation began in 2021, led by property owner Berger Realty Group, to revitalize the historic Studebaker by honoring its history while advancing its technological capacity for contemporary multidisciplinary performances, and bringing this one-of-a-kind theater into its next chapter.
Renovations of the Studebaker Theater will be completed in May 2022, coinciding with the world premiere of Skates A New Musical.