‘Helldrivers’ sputters, cancels remainder of Chicago run

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“Helldrivers of Daytona” | Guy Rhodes photo

The turbo-charged musical “Helldrivers of Daytona” has come to an abrupt stop, well short of the finish line.

The world premiere production, a parody of 1960s beach and hot-rod movies, was meant to run at least through Oct. 30, but as of Thursday its page at ticketmaster.com was offering refunds and declaring, “This event has been canceled.”

“Helldrivers of Daytona” began previews Sept. 8 and opened Monday at the Royal George Theatre in what was billed as a pre-Broadway tryout. Reviews were brutal.

RELATED: ‘Helldrivers’ rocks ’60s camp films

A statement Friday morning from producers Richard Friedman, Natasha Davison and Rachel James thanked the cast and creative team and said they were “disappointed by the critical response, but we knew that it was a risky endeavor.  Still, many of the people who saw it were thoroughly entertained and delighted by the work of our fantastic cast and musicians.

“We have decided to close the production and we will evaluate how we might make changes for future productions of the musical.”

Mark Saltzman, an Emmy winner for “Sesame Street,” wrote the book for “Helldrivers,” with music by Berton Averre of the Knack and lyrics by Rob Meurer, a Christopher Cross collaborator.

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