We were invited to attend a kick-off event and sneak preview for “Hit Her WithThe Skates” a new regionally inspired musical that will have its world premiere March 18, 2020, at the Royal George Theatre on North Halsted Street in Chicago.
The show is produced by Mary Beidler Gearen with book and lyrics by Lansing native and co-producer Christine Rea. The two met while working with the Bailiwick Repertory Company where Gearen earned five Jeff nominations.
Rea pursued graduate studies at DePaul University Theater School and travelled as Mary Magdalene in the National Tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
She then partnerned with her husband, composer/lyricist Rick Briskin, to co-produce and bring this original story inspired by her own preteen and teenage experiences to the stage.
Director Brenda Didier who grew up in Lincolnshire tells us she is very excited to have this opportunity to work with music director Daniel A. Weiss and choreographer Christopher Chase Carter to create a new production from scratch.
She and Rea originally met during a production of 42nd Street at the now defunct Pheasant Run Dinner Theater and are happy to be reunited on this project.
It has an energetic cast featuring “American Idol Power Couple” Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young.
DeGarmo was a runner-up on the popular TV show in \Season Three. Young appeared in Season fFve.
The two met as cast members in the Broadway revival of “Hair.” Their combined experiences in shows like “Grease,” “Hairspray” and “Rock of Ages” sets them up perfectly for this rockin’ retro romp.
Young says, “It is a dream and goal for both of us to originate a role in a new musical. And for us to be a married couple and do that in the same musical is unbelievable.”
“Hit Her With The Skates” is a coming-of-age story with rock star Jacqueline Miller (DeGarmo) confronting her 12 year-old self (Amy Toporek) and revisiting the people in her past who contributed to making her who she is.
We were invited to a preview performance of one musical number called “Forward Motion” which is the moment when Jacqueline comes face-to-face with her 12 year-old self.
The song has a slightly funky vibe with a disco beat that might have you yearning for those late night dance parties at the Limelight or gliding along at top speed, doing cross-overs at the Rainbow Roller Rink on North Clark Street or, in the case of the playwright, the Linwood Roller Rink in the far south suburb.
This is apparently a highly competent creative crew and a talented cast which seems like a winning combination for a great show opening. Watch this space for an update.