Video: Huey Lewis on How Broadway's The Heart of Rock and Roll Is a 'Love Letter to the '80s' | Playbill

Video Video: Huey Lewis on How Broadway's The Heart of Rock and Roll Is a 'Love Letter to the '80s'

The new musical opens April 22.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, a new musical inspired by the music of Huey Lewis and The News, began Broadway previews March 29 at the James Earl Jones Theatre ahead of an April 22 opening night. Hear from Lewis, the cast, and creatives in the video above. 

The Heart of Rock and Roll has a book by Jonathan A. Abrams and a score of Lewis' hits, including “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” “Hip to be Square,” “Power of Love,” “Do You Believe in Love?,” “If This Is It,” “Doing It All for My Baby,” “Stuck with You,” "I Want a New Drug,” “It’s Alright,” and “Heart and Soul.”

With a story by Tyler Mitchell and Abrams, the production is directed by Gordon Greenberg, who has been attached for the entirety of the musical's public development. Music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations are by Brian Usifer with choreography by Lorin Latarro.

For Lewis, who rose to fame in the '80s as a rock singer-songwriter backed by his band, Broadway was not an initial plan. "In the early '80s, my neighbor invited me to go see Mamma Mia!, and I thought 'Oh, I don’t want to go see Mamma Mia! I’m a rocker!" Lewis recalls. "But…I went to see Mamma Mia!, and I was knocked out. I loved it. So that was in the back of my mind. And then they asked me to play Billy Flynn in Chicago in 2006, and I thought, 'I can't do that. That’s way over my head. I’ll never be able to do that.' But my kid was going to NYU, so I told them, give me two tickets, and I’ll see. I was knocked out by the show, and additionally I thought, 'I could almost do that.'" 

Lewis took a chance on Broadway, and played Billy Flynn in Chicago from November 2006 to January 2007. While he won't be on stage for The Heart of Rock and Roll, Lewis' work will be on display for longtime fans and new listeners alike. 

"As a songwriter, you tell this one story with your song," Lewis says. "To have these songs have another life, to be reimagined, reborn on Broadway, is really fantastic and very gratifying."

The Heart of Rock and Roll follows Bobby, a Chicagoan whose failed band leads to him returning to corporate America. While working, he meets his boss, Cassandra, who has also traded in her personal life for a professional one. Together, the two realize their dreams when Bobby gets another shot at stardom and Cassandra is up for the CEO job. See the cast of the The Heart of Rock and Roll perform some songs from the show below.

The cast is led by Corey Cott (Newsies) and McKenzie Kurtz (Wicked) starring as Bobby and Cassandra, respectively, with Josh Breckenridge (Come From Away) as Wyatt, F. Michael Haynie (Wicked) as Glenn, Zoe Jensen (Six) as Paige, Tamika Lawrence (Caroline or Change) as Roz, Raymond J. Lee (Sweeney Todd) as JJ, John-Michael Lyles (A Strange Loop) as Eli, Orville Mendoza (Swept Away) as Fjord, Billy Harrigan Tighe (Pippin) as Tucker, and John Dossett (Wicked) as Stone.

The ensemble features Mike Baerga, Tommy Bracco, TyNia René Brandon, Olivia Cece, Taylor Marie Daniel, Autumn Gazzardi, Lindsay Joan, Ross Lekites, Robin Masella, Michael Olaribigbe, Kevin Pariseau, and Robert Pendilla. Joe Moeller, Jennifer Noble, Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard, and Leah Read round out the company as swings.

"You can expect a lot of joy [at the show]," Breckenridge says. "People are going to have fun, they’re going to dance in their seats. It’s nostalgic for everyone that knows the music. I myself was surprised when I first joined this show...[at] how many songs were Huey Lewis’. All these songs I hummed in my youth."

Even for theatregoers who may not be familiar with Lewis' catalog, the show could introduce some new favorites: "I think anyone who doesn't know Huey Lewis’ music is going to be bowled over by a tidal wave of bops," Greenberg says.

The production also features music direction by Will Van Dyke, scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Jen Caprio, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by John Shivers, casting by Tara Rubin Casting's Peter Van Dam, and hair, wig, and makeup design by Nikiya Mathis. Justin Scribner serves as production stage manager.


Photos: The Heart of Rock and Roll Meets the Press

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