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‘Helldrivers of Daytona’ might have closed seven weeks early

Written by
Kris Vire

The new musical Helldrivers of Daytona, which opened on Monday night at the Royal George Theatre in a commercial production with purported Broadway aspirations, appears to be headed for the mechanic’s shop instead.

After facing some of the harshest reviews from Chicago critics (myself included) in recent memory, the show’s Ticketmaster page now has every remaining performance—41 of them, planned to run through October 30—marked as “canceled.” A call this evening to the Royal George box office, which should have been open ahead of tonight’s scheduled performance, went unanswered. Reached by phone this afternoon, a spokesperson for Helldrivers was unaware of the show’s removal from Ticketmaster and said she would have to consult with the producers regarding the production’s future; we’ll update this post when we receive further information.*

The show, an ostensible satire of ’60s flicks like Viva Las Vegas, seemed to think its endless supply of tasteless sex jokes was mocking outmoded attitudes, though it actually came across as celebrating them. In my one-star review, I wrote that the “aggressively puerile” show was “a barely-there chassis on which to hang strained sex gags, most of which achieve at best a single entendre,” and that “the only hell in Helldrivers is the two and a half hours you spend sitting through it.”

*Producers Richard Friedman, Natasha Davison and Rachel James issued the following statement on the morning of September 16:

“We all believed in Helldrivers of Daytona and more importantly believe in creating new works for the American Musical stage. We are 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. We want to thank our talented team of designers, our director and co-choreographer, our music director, our cast and crew, and of course our creative team who have all worked so diligently get Helldrivers to the starting (and alas, finishing) line.”

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