Huey Lewis and the News Musical


When a personality within the new musical “The Heart of Rock and Roll” tries to persuade his ex to depart her job at a manufacturing facility that makes delivery supplies, he’s shocked: “Oh, my god. It’s cardboard!”

But there will be actual enchantment to the humblest of supplies — and the identical will be mentioned of this unpretentious, foolish and, in the long run, relatively enjoyable present. For all of the acquainted jukebox musical templates of skinny characters, unsurprising plot developments and oldie pop/rock songs shoehorned into the narrative, there’s one thing to be mentioned for easy packaging that is aware of what it’s and does it nicely.

The present, which premiered in 2018 at The Old Globe, options Jonathan A. Abrams’ authentic script (story by Tyler Mitchell and Abrams), which is “inspired by the songs of Huey Lewis and the News,” the mainstream ‘80s group identified for hook-filled pop/rock songs sung by its raspy-voiced, likable-guy lead singer.

But most of the News’ infectious, throbbing tunes — penned by numerous writers together with Lewis — type of merge right into a steady, corrugated entire. That makes it a problem to craft a present that doesn’t sound prefer it’s on a loop, a minimum of for dramatic functions.

But right here the musical’s intelligent creators, led by director Gordon Greenberg and choreographer Lorin Latarro, resolve to simply go for the nice center which neither offends nor evokes, simply entertains. It additionally displays the broad, easy-going enchantment of the music — a minimum of for sure generations — which makes this present’s future promising, if not on this Broadway run then actually for the highway.

Derek McLane’s colourful set design and Jen Caprio’s witty costumes (love the cardboard skirt) echoes the late ‘80s, and sign senseless escapism is the important thing.

The musical rom-com’s nutty exuberance can be paying homage to one other present: “Hairspray.” Here, too, are oddball jokes, crazy characters and winking interval references (Sam Goody’s, Trader Vics, increase packing containers and the Walkman — “Why not a Walkwoman?” snaps one feminine visionary.)

Just don’t have a look at the plot too deeply because it follows Bobby (Cory Cott), a man who gave up his rock and roll dream because the lead singer for the longtime-struggling The Loops for a safer job at a Milwaukee manufacturing facility the place he hopes to impress the boss (John Dossett) and the boss’s daughter Cassandra (McKenzie Kurtz, who offers this ingenue stunning quirks and comedian chops).

But he additionally doesn’t wish to let down his outdated bandmates (F. Michael Haynie, Raymond J. Lee and John-Michael Lyles) when there’s an opportunity to get an surprising report deal.

But there are problems, natch, with Bobby’s wooing of Fjord (Orville Mendoza), the Swedish furnishings magnate, for a giant contract whereas concurrently competing with Cassandra’s ex-fiancee and Gordon Gekko wannabe Tucker (Billy Harrington Tighe, a triple-threat performer, in addition to a comic book virtuoso in each scene and music.)

Humor and brightness is what fuels this engine whose musical repertoire will not be infinitely assorted. So “Hip to Be Square” is sung by the field manufacturing facility staff with dancers doing faucet on bubble wrap. “Stuck with You” turns into a hilarious fantasy of home doom. “I Want a New Drug” turns into Bobby’s love music to a seductive electrical guitar.

Throw in a scene in a sauna and one other in an aerobics studio led by a Richard Simmons-type (Tommy Bracco) and you’ve got sufficient diversions to maintain you from considering an excessive amount of concerning the story.

Adding sly comedian asides is a really humorous Tamika Lawrence as Bobby’s HR ally. She will get the largest laughs with the subtlest of takes, and slays the present’s wind-up music, “The Power of Love” (a tune that additionally fuels Broadway’s “Back to the Future”).

“The Heart of Rock and Roll” solely betrays itself when it dips its toe too deeply into the pool of seriousness with an overwrought 11 o’clock quantity (“The Only One”). Until then, Bobby is an interesting sufficient go-getter, however sudden father points takes the present down a special highway.

Cott, who was spectacular because the lead in “Bandstand,” sings the hell out of the songs. But his putting attractiveness, to not point out his well-displayed biceps and abs, makes him maybe an excessive amount of of a slick outsider to be completely credible in Huey’s working-for-a-living world.

Still, for the reason that present retains its ambitions in verify with its sensibly-scaled manufacturing and low-stakes guide, it doesn’t actually matter that it thinks contained in the field. After all, cardboard has its makes use of.


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