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'Hats! The Musical' returns to the State

John Benson • May 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

Want to go?

• WHAT: “Hats! The Musical”

• WHEN: 2 p.m. May 12-14, 7:30 p.m. May 13

• WHERE: Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky  

• COST: $21-31/ticket, $39-49/dinner and show package

• INFO: 419-626-1950, 877-626-1950 or sanduskystate.com

Sure, Oprah goes off the air for good in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean the celebration of womanhood won’t continue. Take for instance “Hats! The Musical,” which, after a triumphant run nearly three years ago, returns to the area May 12 through 14 at the Sandusky State Theatre.

“Last time we staged the show’s Ohio debut, it was excellently received with standing ovations, laughter, smiles and tears,” said Sandusky State Theatre Executive Director Thomas Kazmierczak, III, who is co-director. “We’re bringing it now in the springtime, a whole different look in Sandusky than the last time when we produced it in the fall. Now this is the tourist season here, everything is in bloom, the water is warm, that whole atmosphere. And we’re bringing it back (with) both local and New York cast members.”

He added, “Even our choreographer Marje Rody, who for years was in charge of the choreography and arts at Cedar Point, has come out of retirement to do the choreography. It’s all about sparkle, excitement and ta-da. That’s right up her alley.”

Written by husband-wife team Marcia Milgram Dodge and Anthony Dodge, “Hats! The Musical” features original music by several Tony Award nominated composers, including Susan Birkenhead, Gretchen Cryer, Henry Krueger, Melissa Manchester, Pam Tillis and Carol Hall. The story, which is a mix between “Cinderella” and “Menopause the Musical,” takes a hilarious look at one woman’s struggle with her impending 50th birthday.

The Red Hat Society — with its members called Red Hatters — began over a decade ago when California native and founder Sue Ellen Cooper was inspired by Jenny Joseph’s poetry, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.” From that point on, she bought her 50-something friends red hats. Eventually, her large group started meeting for social functions, with all members wearing purple outfits.

As word spread about the Red Hatters, more women became involved. Today, there aremmore than 20,000 chapters in all 50 states and more than 25 countries. The Red Hatters meet regularly to socialize, with the idea being to have a good time.

“The musical is exciting and it really caters to all ages,” Kazmierczak said. “It’s just the rollercoaster of life and the choice to live it up as opposed to drowning in your sorrow.”

This time around, Kazmierczak will be co-directing the production alongside his former college professor and veteran New York actress Tricia Sandberg, who returns to star in the show.

Already, buzz about “Hats! The Musical” has reached folks in Toledo and Cleveland, with tour buses scheduled to come to Sandusky to take in the show. Kazmierczak feels it’ll be a real tourist boon for the downtown area. “It’s part of our mission to be known not only in Sandusky, but be able to take our talents outward and share them with the community,” he said.

Kazmierczak admits on the surface “Hats! The Musical” is decidedly slanted towards the female audience, but he’s hoping men also take in the show. “Men know women, and it’s a message for their moms, girlfriends and daughters turning 50 or older,” he said. “So they can relate.”

Finally, a quick glance at the calendar shows “Hats! The Musical” taking place less than a week after Mother’s Day. As you may suspect, that’s more than just a coincidence.

“Yes, it’s a perfect gift and it’s perfect timing,” Kazmierczak laughed. “It would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift.”

“Hats! The Musical” takes place at 2 p.m. May 12 through 14 and 7:30 p.m. May 13 at The Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Tickets are $21 to $31 (dinner & show packages are $39 to $49). Call 419-626-1950 or 877-626-1950, or visit sanduskystate.com.

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