TR Robertson –Those in attendance recently at the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe Theatre took a step back in time to the 1980’s and heard the hard driving music of Huey Lewis and the News, as over 20 of the group’s songs filled the stage with a fun-filled, beautifully performed world premiere musical comedy, “The Heart of Rock & Roll”. Inspired by the music of Huey Lewis and the News, from a book by Jonathan A. Abrams and a story by Abrams and Tyler Mitchell, and under the direction of Gordon Greenberg, the story unfolds of a young man, Bobby, and his band, struggling to make the big time, only to be rejected once again. Bobby enters the corporate world of a box company at an entry level position, uses guts, intuition and creativeness to try and move up the corporate ladder, meets a girl (the bosses daughter), achieves success, makes mistakes, loses the girl and his position, only to find “The Power of Love” to help him find his way.
Photography by Jim Cox
Very colorful staging and clever set pieces are used in much of the choreography which gives a unique look to the presentation of the songs and dance routines. Add to this some great musical arrangements and orchestration with powerful voices and a hit is born on The Old Globe Stage.
Led by leads Matt Doyle as Bobby and Katie Rose Clarke as Cassandra, Huey Lewis’s music soars on stage. Both Doyle and Clarke are veteran Broadway actors and it clearly shows in the musical with their great stage presence and clear, majestic voices that fill the stage and it is very obvious these two are having a fun time in this musical. Together they sing several of Lewis’s songs, “Hip to be Square” and a great performance of “If This Is It” and Doyle joins his band, The Loop, in several other numbers. Playing Cassandra’s father and the CEO of the Stone Box Company of Milwaukee is John Dossett as Stone. Dossett has appeared in 17 Old Globe productions. He has also appeared in numerous other productions around the nation and in several television shows and films. This musical offered him a chance to sing along with several of Lewis’s songs including his own very exuberant presentation of “Workin’ for a Livin’”, complete with joining other performers in a very funny bubble wrap dance routine.
Cassandra’s feisty friend Paige was played by Paige Faure. Paige has also appeared in a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. As Paige she brought over-the-top enthusiasm and zaniness to the stage. Bobby’s band members were F. Michael Haynie as the “spacey” bassist Glenn, Lucas Paapaelias as the equally “spacey” lead guitar player JJ and Zachary Noah Piser as the down-to-earth drummer Eli. Eli lays it on the line when he asks Bobby “What do you want your life to be and who do you want to spend it with?” when he tries to get Bobby to understand the decisions before him. Haynie and Papaelias have appeared on Broadway and Piser is making his Globe debut and has appeared Off-Broadway.
An audience favorite was Orville Mendoza playing the eccentric Fjord the Hungry Monk. One of the funniest moments on stage is the steam bath scene, complete with “spanking” branches, Fjord has with aspiring corporate man Bobby. Mendoza is making his Globe debut and has appeared on Broadway. Playing concert producer Nina is Lindsay Nicole Chambers, also having performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Nina comes across as someone who is pushy and driven, but she is also the person who speaks honestly to Bobby when he can’t seems to make a decision. She tells him, “If you’re true to yourself, you’re true to everyone”. Billy Harrigan Tighe plays former boyfriend Tucker and is so sickly goody-goody he will drive you crazy, but at the same time you will laugh when he constantly breaks into his a cappella group’s routines. One of the strongest voices on the Globe Stage belongs to Patrice Covington who plays Roz, a manager at the Stone Box Company. Her powerful voice can be heard when she sings “Be Someone” with Bobby, joins in with “Do You Believe in Love” and finishes off as the lead singer with the rest of the cast in the final song the 1995 Academy Award nominated “The Power of Love” from “Back to the Future”.
No show of this quality could go on without a strong creative Production Staff. Director Gordon Greenberg and Choreographer Lorin Latarro’s staff includes: Production Stage Manager Anjee Nero, Assistants Mandisa Reed and Amanda Salmons, Dance Captain MiMi Scardulla, Associate Choreography Patrick O’Neill, Associate Music Director Isaac Alter, Assistant Director Geoff Packard, Associate Scenic Designers Erica Hemminger, Eileen McCann, and Antonio DiBernardo, Associate Costume Designer Charlotte Devaux, Assistant Costume Designers Amanda Bergman, David Hyman, and Danae Iris McQueen, Associate Lighting Designer Amanda Zieve and Assistant Lighting Designer Brandon Rosen. This is but a few of the staff members who brought this high energy musical to The Old Globe stage.
The “Heart of Rock and Roll” will not only bring back memories of the pulsating music from the 1980’s, performed originally by Huey Lewis and the News, but will warm your hearts with this feel good, funny musical.
“Heart of Rock and Roll” will play at The Old Globe Theatre until October 21st. Ticket prices start at $39.00 and can be purchased at www.theoldglobe.org or call 619-234-5623.