Melissa Manchester to Star in Chicago Premiere of Hats!

Melissa Manchester, one of the composers involved in Hats!, will be one of the stars of the new musical's Chicago premiere.

Hats!, which is currently playing a production in New Orleans, will begin previews at the Royal George Theatre and open on April 29th for a run through June 10th.  The show premiered at the New Denver Civic Center last year.

According to press notes, Hats! is "an original musical about a 49.999 year old woman who reluctantly faces the inevitable big five-O birthday until she meets several remarkable Red Hat Society women who show her about fun and friendship after 50." Manchester will play MaryAnne; more casting will be announced.

Directed by Tony Award nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Swing!), Hats! features a score of original songs from a handful of artists, including two-time Tony Award winner Doug Besterman, Tony-nominated lyricist Susan Birkenhead (Jelly's Last Jam, Working), Michele Brourman, Pat Bunch, Gretchen Cryer (I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road) , Anthony Dodge, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Beth Falcone, David Friedman, Kathie Lee Gifford, Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Carol Hall (Best Little Whorehouse In Texas), Tony-nominated composer Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls), Stephen Lawrence, Grammy Award-winner Manchester, Golden Globe-winner Amanda McBroom, Grammy Award-winner Pam Tillis and Sharon Vaughn.

Manchester's theatre credits include Sweeney Todd and Song and Dance, and she is the creator of the musical I Sent a Letter to My Love.  The singer/songwriter has penned such hit songs as "Come In from the Rain," "Midnight Blue," and "Don't Cry Out Loud."

"The Red Hat Society is a self-proclaimed dis-organization for women over 50 from all walks of life who come together for one reason: to have fun. Since its creation in 1998, The Red Hat Society has created a worldwide sisterhood by forming more than 40,000 chapters across all 50 states, and in 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, Mexico, and as far as Japan and Egypt."

The Royal George Theatre is located at 1641 North Halsted in Chicago, IL. Tickets, which are $49.50, will be available beginning March 2; call (312) 902-1500 or by visiting For more information visit

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