“Hedda! Queen of Hollywood”

“Hedda! Queen of Hollywood” is a one woman musical based on the life of Hedda Hopper – the iconic, hat-crazed, Hollywood gossip columnist who reigned there and in the newspapers and radio of the U.S and beyond from 1938 until her death at the age of 80 in 1966.

Jillann Gabrielle is creating this vehicle entirely on her own – lyrics, music and book – with a bit of help from her musical arranger Howard Pfeifer who so far has co-composed 2 songs with her. She has done extensive research on Hedda and is crafting songs and a book that will amuse, open a few eyes, and raise some eyebrows regarding Miss Hopper and the era – the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Jill has previously co-created a musical on Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII (“Wallis and Edward” with NYC cabaret expert Erv Raible), a screenplay on Johann Sebastian Bach and Frederick the Great (“Stringendo” with Todd Cook, a Northern California screenwriter), and a sitcom with LA comedy writer Toby Hamilton. This is her first project writing entirely on her own.

“Hedda! Queen of Hollywood” will have 17 songs… a lot for a musical… but Jillann is a consummate singer/actress (check out her website for more information) and “Hedda!” is such fertile ground for songs, Miss Hopper being who she was. It is being conceived as a multi-dimensional entertainment experience. There will be a large projection screen on stage which will display images supporting each song and scene, the majority of which are photos of the period. Also, Miss Hopper purchased 150 hats a year… she was known for her hats! There will be eighty hats on stage with her, with a number of specialty hats created.

But the heart of what this musical is about is gossip, politics, and Hollywood! Hedda started as a bit part actress on the stage and in films (silent and talking). She segued into politics in her columns as her power increased during her reign. She represented the ultra-conservative and was aligned with the anti-communists of the 1950s. She was known for gossip so vicious that it brought physical retaliation from several Hollywood stars. Her personality was naturally over the top… which makes anything on the stage fair game!