Asolo Repertory Theatre HERO: The Musical

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Asolo Repertory Theatre HERO: The Musical

May 2, 2014

by: Sherry Janes

The opening night of the Asolo’s new production of HERO:  The Musical was well received by an audience that obviously enjoyed a night of being highly entertained, judging by their exuberant response.

HERO opened with a dynamic pop-rock band and an absolutely amazing set.  Sarasota’s Asolo Rep Theatre continues to surprise and thrill its audience with the depth of the artistry and talent it offers in all respects.  A quite sophisticated set with four entirely different sides easily revolved on a turntable.  We were transported in a split second from Hero’s family home, to their back yard, the father and son owned Comic Book Shop, and then on to the neighborhood bar.  A constantly changing sky scene was projected onto a screen behind the elaborate set, adding a very dimensional effect.

A high energy and engagingly wholesome cast literally bursts onto the stage as each character makes their appearance in this playful, zingy musical.  Brian Sears (from the original cast of The Book of Mormon – on Broadway) is perfectly cast as Hero, the 28 year old aspiring comic book artist who still lives at home with his lovable father.  Sharing the lead, Laurie Veldheer (“Sophie” of Mamma Mia! – on Broadway), charms as Hero’s beautiful high school sweetheart, Jane, whose return to town turns his life upside down.

Through a series of real life kinds of events, Hero, who has been unable to move forward in life due to a painful incident in his past, is forced to face the realities of his life.  With the encouragement of his fun-loving, hysterical cousins, his loving father and major crush, Jane, he is able to tap into his “inner superhero.”  Per Aaron Thielen, who wrote the book and concept for the show, “You understand that duality of being yourself and embracing the super power you have – whatever it is you are gifted with.”  Hero is able to finally find his niche in the world of comic books as the unique and vastly talented creator of his very own comic book.

We are moved from laughter to tears as Hero’s former painful past emerges and a fresh loss crushes his spirit. Jane lovingly brings him out of his deep depression and inability to face life once again, but as a man who has finally found himself and conquered his past.

A totally refreshing, highly upbeat, full of laughter, but surprisingly touching, not to be missed musical!


Asolo Rep Continues its 2013-14 season with

HERO: THE MUSICAL Opens May 2 at Asolo Rep”Instantly engaging and wholly accessible. Emotionally smart yet wonderfully playful. Young, funny, real and full of heart.” – Chicago Sun-Times

“HERO very well may conquer the world with its transformative message of seeing what is right in front of you, meeting your particular challenges with the resources at hand, and moving on into the destiny of your tomorrow with your new-found family at your side.” –

“Sweetly charming… A bonafide hit.” – Centerstage Chicago

(SARASOTA, April 7, 2014) — Asolo Rep’s brand new production of HERO: THE MUSICAL features a dynamically fresh pop-rock score, Broadway’s brightest young stars and an inspirational story of perseverance. Previews for the winner of the 2012 Jefferson Award for Best New Musical are April 29, 30 and May 1, opening night is Friday, May 2 at 8pm and the show will run through June 1. The musical had its world premiere in 2012 at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago and was created by the theatre’s Artistic Director, Aaron Thielen. Asolo Rep’s production will be directed and choreographed by David H. Bell, winner of 11 Jefferson Awards and writer/director of Asolo Rep’s 2012 production of Fanny Brice, America’s Funny Girl.

Hailed by as a “…warm, funny and well sung new musical that, for a world premiere, is ready for life after Marriott Theatre,” Asolo Rep is thrilled to continue to cultivate and develop this critically acclaimed new musical. Thielen, who also wrote the book and concept for the show, and Michael Mahler, who wrote the music and lyrics, have revamped Asolo Rep’s production, expanding upon and enhancing their original smash hit.

Hero Batowski is a 28-year-old comic book artist who hasn’t moved out of his childhood home. He lives vicariously through his art, suppressing his own dreams and reality. Hero’s inability to let go of a painful incident from his past is his own kryptonite. When his life takes an unexpected twist, he is forced to evaluate his uncertain future and choose a new path. With a little help from his sidekicks – his wise-cracking cousins, loving dad, and his beautiful high school girlfriend who he thought he had lost forever – he slowly awakens what was there all along: his inner superhero.

“It definitely is not a comic-book musical,” Thielen said. “It’s really about a guy trying to find himself. That is a universal thing. But even if you’re not a comics fan, you know who Superman is. You understand that duality of being yourself and embracing the super power you have – whatever it is you are gifted with.”

Brian Sears (The Book of Mormon on Broadway) and Laurie Veldheer (Mamma Mia! on Broadway) lead this all-star cast. Andrew Boyer, who played Alfred P. Doolittle in Asolo Rep’s beloved 2011 production My Fair Lady and Benjamin Franklin in the theatre’s 2012 hit musical, 1776, will star as Hero’s kindhearted father, Al.

“With an utterly fresh new book and score, HERO: The Musical is about the most American cultural phenomenon: comics, and the people who love them,” said Michael Donald Edwards, Producing Artistic Director of Asolo Rep. “It is an upbeat, hilarious, surprisingly touching musical that simply can’t be missed.”

“HERO is a contemporary story with immense heart,” said Director/Choreographer David H. Bell. “It was created by a team that loves its characters, story and, above all, loves musical theatre. It explores how we can keep ourselves from our dreams by living for the expectations and approval of others. HERO teaches us that in love, art, and life sometimes the thing you need most is courage.”

(In order of appearance)

Andrew Boyer*
Brian Sears*
Ian Paul Custer*
Norm Boucher*
Brad Weinstock*
Samantha Eggers*
Chelsea Lovett*
Sean Martin
Owen Teague
Matthew Mueller*
Laurie Veldheer*
Dara Cameron*
Jameson Cooper*
Al Batowski
Hero Batowski
Jane Foster
Susan Schmitty
John Timmons

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Director and Choreographer
Book and Concept
Music and Lyrics
Orchestrations / Arrangements
Orchestrations / Music Direction
Scenic Design
Costume Design
Lighting Design
Sound Design
Projection Design
David H. Bell
Aaron Thielen
Michael Mahler
Michael Mahler
Ryan T. Nelson
Scott Davis
Ana Kuzmanic
Jesse Klug
Kevin Kennedy
Aaron Rhyne


Discussion Series: Connecting Great Artists to Great Audiences

Tuesday Talkbacks
Share an intimate discussion on the themes of the play.

  • May 6, 13*, 20 and 27, following the 7:30pm performance

*This talkback will also feature special guest Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Meet the Actors
After select Sunday performances, join the cast for a special moderated talkback.

  • May 18, following the 2pm matinee

Pre-Show Conversations
A half hour before select performances, speak with Asolo Rep artists and staff to gain insight into the play’s development and explore its themes.

  • May 15 at 7:30pm, prior to the 8pm performance

Kaleidoscope: Heroes
Monday May 12 at 6pm
Mertz Theatre
FREE. Reservations are recommended.

Asolo Rep partners with area schools and service organizations for its award-winning performing arts program for people with disabilities – one of Asolo Rep’s longest-running outreach programs. Don’t miss this collaborative, celebratory performance where participants share their work with the community on the Mertz stage. (Appropriate for all ages.)

Kaleidoscope features artists from Bayshore High School, Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities, Easter Seals Southwest Florida and Oak Park School. They and their teaching artists have taken inspiration from this season’s production of HERO: THE MUSICAL to create original theatre in response to the question, “What is your superpower?”

OUT evenings feature local LGBT organizations, a pre-show reception, a special speaker, and an evening of live theater. OUT@AsoloRep is sponsored by U.S. Trust, Visit Sarasota County and Morton’s Gourmet Market.

(In Alphabetical Order)
DAVID H. BELL SECOND SEASON (Director/Choreographer) returns to Asolo Rep after directing his musical, Fanny Brice, America’s Funny Girl. David originally directed HERO at Chicago’s Marriott Theatre. Other Chicago work has garnered him 44 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations (winning 11 times). His musical Hot Mikado has played all over the World (winning numerous awards including London’s Laurence Olivier Award). His work with Matador, and the Jimmy Buffett/ Herman Wouk musical Don’t Stop the Carnival resulted in 5 Florida Carbonell Nominations. Upcoming: On the Town (Chicago), a world premiere of the Turkish best seller The Forty Rules of Love for Healy Theatricals, Pericles and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). David is currently the Donald G. Robertson Chair of Music Theatre at Northwestern University, and the Artistic Director of the American Music Theatre Program (AMTP)
ANDREW BOYER* GUEST ARTIST, THIRD SEASON (Al Batowski, HERO) last played Benjamin Franklin in 1776 at Asolo Rep and ACT. He also played Doolittle in Asolo Rep’s My Fair Lady. Broadway credits include Gypsy, directed by Arthur Laurents, Charlie Cowell in the revival of The Music Man. Also in New York, The Duke of Cornwall in King Lear with Hal Holbrook at the Roundabout Theatre, national tours as Cogsworth in Beauty & The Beast, and Speed in The Odd Couple starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Regional credits: George Crofts in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, with Elizabeth Ashley; Burgess in Candida; Dale Harding in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; Fagin in Oliver!; Cap’n Andy in Show Boat; and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

BRIAN SEARS* GUEST ARTIST, FIRST SEASON (Hero Batowski) Broadway: The Book of Mormon (Original cast member), Lend Me a Tenor (directed by Stanley Tucci), Finian’s Rainbow, Grease, All Shook Up. First National Tour: All Shook Up (Dean). Regional: H2$ (Finch) at Goodspeed, Oklahoma!  (Will Parker) and Hello Dolly! (Barnaby) at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Bowery Boys (Dick) at Marriott Lincolnshire (Jeff Nomination). CCM Alum.

LAURIE VELDHEER* GUEST ARTIST, FIRST SEASON (Jane Foster) Broadway: Mamma Mia! (Sophie), Newsies (Hannah/Smalls, u/s Katherine, OBC). National tours: Hairspray. Regional: Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Maltz Jupiter Theater [Paper Mill Playhouse]), Hannah/Smalls in Newsies and Brenda in Hairspray (Paper Mill Playhouse), Natalie in Next to Normal (Milwaukee Rep), My One and Only (Goodspeed Musicals.) BFA in musical theater from Penn State University.

         Tickets for HERO: THE MUSICAL and the entire 2013-14 Asolo Repertory Theatre season are on sale now. Tickets for HERO: THE MUSICAL start at $21. To purchase tickets, call 941.351.8000 or 800.361.8388, visit, or visit the Asolo Repertory Theatre Box Office, located in the lobby of the theatre. Asolo Repertory Theatre is located at 5555 North Tamiami Trail in the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts. Box office hours are Monday 10am – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, and Sunday 10am – 2pm. The box office closes at 5pm when there are no evening performances and phone lines close one hour prior to the start of any performance. Season subscription packages are also available online and by visiting or calling the box office.

         Asolo Rep is able to bring HERO: THE MUSICAL to the stage thanks to the generosity of its sponsors. Corporate sponsors are the Herald Tribune Media Group, WUSF Public Media, Residence Inn by Marriott, ABC 7, SRQ Media, and Modern Events. Asolo Rep’s season sponsors are Florida State University, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Designing Women Boutique, Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Woman’s Exchange, Inc. Asolo Rep’s artistic programs are paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues. Asolo Rep is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Media Contact:

Sasha Fields
Public Relations Manager
941-351-9010 ext. 4800
[email protected]

Copyright © 2014 Asolo Repertory Theatre, All rights reserved.

Asolo Rep Announces Casting Update for HERO: The Musical
***For Immediate Release***
April 15, 2014

Asolo Repertory Theatre Announces
HERO: The Musical Casting Update

Don Forston will be playing the role of Al Batowski.

DON FORSTON* GUEST ARTIST, FIRST SEASON (Al Batowski, HERO) makes his Asolo Rep debut with HERO. He originated the role of Al in the world premiere of HERO at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Don’s most recent credits are with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, and the world premieres of The Adventures of Pinocchio as Geppetto and the Emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Don recently appeared on NBC’s hit television series, Chicago PD, as Phil Rodiger. His film credits include, Rookie of the Year and Blink.

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

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