Huey Lewis Musical, ‘Heart of Rock & Roll,’ on Broadway: Reviews

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Huey Lewis discussing his new musical on MSNBC, Nov. 1, 2023

The songs of Huey Lewis and the News are at the heart of a new musical comedy on Broadway in 2024. The Heart of Rock and Roll, inspired by the band’s many classic rock hits like “Power of Love,” “If This Is It,” and the title track, had its official opening at the James Earl Jones Theatre on Broadway on April 22 to mostly positive reviews. The show is set in 1987 and its hero works for a cardboard box manufacturer. In its review, the traditional arbiter of what makes-or-breaks on Broadway—The New York Times—wrote, “Fortunately, there is enough good-natured goofball humor to keep… the production from sinking into cloying goo.” The Times critic added, “[The show] is not going to be the subject of think pieces and graduate theses, but its easygoing good spirits are bolstered by solid craftsmanship, and it’d be silly to turn up our noses at that.”

Under a headline that called the show “hilarious fun” the New York Post raved, calling it “the underdog highlight of the season.” Not to be outdone, the headline in the paywall-blocked Daily News used the words “funny, unpretentious ’80s fun.” In its panThe Wrap singled out the show’s “paper-thin material.”

Variety wrote, “For all the familiar jukebox musical templates of thin characters, unsurprising plot developments and oldie pop/rock songs shoehorned into the narrative, there’s something to be said for simple packaging that knows what it is and does it well.”

New York magazine called the show “the funniest new musical of the season.”

Tickets are available here. Watch the cast preview the title track below.

In a November 1, 2023, appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Lewis noted that he had been working on the musical for almost a decade. Although the story is not about his life, “it’s funny and has a lot of art,” he said. The original production is from a book by Jonathan A. Abrams and story by Tyler Mitchell and Abrams. “Tyler knows my music better than me,” joked Lewis.

The cast features Corey Cott (Newsies), McKenzie Kurtz (Wicked), Josh Breckenridge (Come From Away), F. Michael Haynie (Wicked), Zoe Jensen (Six), Tamika Lawrence (Caroline or Change) and Raymond J. Lee (Sweeney Todd).

From the musical’s website: A raucous rom-com wrapped in pure musical joy, The Heart of Rock and Roll centers on a couple of thirty-somethings who know exactly what they want from life—until they find each other. It’s going to take The Power Of Love — and a little help from their friends — to show them the way. Jam-packed with Lewis mega-hits like “Working for a Living” and “Stuck with You,” this shamelessly fun show will have you dancing in your seat.

Watch the Broadway cast perform the title track

During the MSNBC appearance, Lewis addressed the hearing loss that began over five years ago that has prevented him from singing. “I can’t hear pitch,” he said. He was asked how he has coped with the loss. “As best you can. You have to remind yourself: There are a lot of people worse off. It’s very gratifying to know that you [have] touched people’s lives.”

Several days before the show opened, Lewis told Good Morning America that the show “has been a salvation for me. It was something to be creative, stay busy, and keep my mind off my lousy hearing.”

Huey Lewis and the News’ recordings are available here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Su
    #1 Su 25 December, 2023, 02:57

    Huey – LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU – and your songs! Hoping to make it to New York to see the play. (Can def empathize with the hearing loss. Lost it in my left ear a few years ago due to a virus. It’s kind of a bitch but you learn to cope.) Happy New Year, Huey!!

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  2. v2787
    #2 v2787 24 February, 2024, 08:40

    I always love the band’s music, and I was fortunate enough to see them perform live before Huey lost his hearing. The musical looks like it will be fun. All the best.

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