Home » Huey Lewis’s Music Makes ‘The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll’

Huey Lewis’s Music Makes ‘The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll’

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It’s 2024, and Huey Lewis is having a second. Simply let that sink in.

Lewis was an surprising spotlight of the current Netflix documentary “The Best Night time in Pop,” concerning the star-studded 1985 session the place “We Are the World” was recorded. An everyman rocker, Lewis was amazed (and nonetheless is) that he was rubbing elbows with Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen. He even acquired to sing the half initially meant for Prince.

Now comes the brand new Broadway present “The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll,” which isn’t a lot a Huey Lewis (and the Information) musical because the Huey Lewis of musicals: not taking itself too significantly, doing what it does nicely, and simply comfortable to be on Broadway, preserving firm with starrier productions.

Like most jukeboxes, “The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll” shoehorns large hits, together with “The Energy of Love” and “Caught With You,” with lesser-known tracks right into a plot generic sufficient to accommodate them.

Set in 1987, Jonathan A. Abrams’s ebook, primarily based on a narrative by Tyler Mitchell and Abrams, facilities on Bobby (Corey Cott, from the underrated “Bandstand”), an worker at an ailing cardboard field producer, Stone Included, in Milwaukee. Bobby works on the meeting line, however he actually needs to affix the gross sales division so he can “Be Somebody,” because the present’s new track places it. Wait, no, perhaps what he actually needs is to rock out along with his previous band, the Loop. Bobby may sing “It’s Hip to Be Sq.,” however deep down, does he actually consider it?

By now you may need seen that desires play a giant half in “The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll.” There are quite a few references to chasing the dream, making it come true and dwelling it, but in addition giving it up. Sentimentality is commonly ladled out, together with clichés. And Bobby, whose sole persona trait seems to be “good man,” carries greater than his share of each — he hears the fateful siren name “one final present” and lugs emotional baggage associated to his “previous man.” No less than Cott provides Bobby a laid-back appeal that’s not in contrast to Lewis’s personal, alongside along with his emotional large Act II aria, “The Solely One.”

Happily, there’s additionally sufficient good-natured goofball humor to maintain Gordon Greenberg’s manufacturing from sinking into cloying goo. A lot of the levity comes from amusing supporting characters, beginning with Bobby’s love curiosity and his boss’s daughter, Cassandra (McKenzie Kurtz, a current Glinda in “Depraved”). She is an uber-dork with a keenness for spreadsheets, and Kurtz’s Cassandra is a daffy delight that recollects Annaleigh Ashford’s efficiency in “Kinky Boots.”

That isn’t the one time “The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll” brings to thoughts that hit, which can be set at a manufacturing facility. Like Jerry Mitchell’s within the earlier present, Lorin Latarro’s high-energy choreography right here makes intelligent use of props, having workers slide on cardboard sheets and deploying the ensemble in a quantity that includes leaping on Bubble Wrap.

That scene takes place at a packaging conference, the place Stone Inc. is making an attempt to drum up enterprise. For obscure causes, the corporate’s wise head of H.R., Roz (a splendidly droll Tamika Lawrence), has tagged alongside. She, too, needed to make a life-changing determination as soon as — “and it’s a great factor,” Roz dryly quips, “as a result of in any other case I by no means would have discovered the unbridled pleasure of ‘human sources.’” (This units up the perfect plot twist, which comes on the very finish.)

Naturally, good Midwesterners want a depraved antagonist, ideally of the putting-on-airs type (a giant no-no within the Huey Lewis universe). And right here the present over-delivers because of the loose-limbed physical-comedy ace Billy Harrigan Tighe and his memorable efficiency as Tucker, Cassandra’s cocky finance-bro ex. Within the quantity “Give Me the Keys (And I’ll Drive You Loopy),” he and his previous Princeton a cappella group, the Undertones, invite Cassandra for a experience in a fake automobile. The second when Kurtz mimes opening the door and Tighe mimes rolling down the window is a robust contender for single funniest scene of the Broadway spring.

Whereas the dialogue has occasional pop, it’s the performances that hold the present rolling, together with Greenberg and Latarro’s fast-paced, resourceful staging. Bobby’s “I Desire a New Drug,” for instance, is a cost-effective abstract of why many males be part of rock bands: In his lodge room on the conference, simply as he pulls out his beloved guitar, dealing with it like a holy relic, three ladies magically emerge from contained in the mattress — in a nifty contact, their outfits are stylized representations of Bobby’s axe. (The costumes are by Jen Caprio.)

“The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll” shouldn’t be going to be the topic of assume items and graduate theses, however its easygoing good spirits are bolstered by strong craftsmanship, and it’d be foolish to show up our noses at that. “Have a great time,” Huey Lewis as soon as sang, correctly quoting Curtis Mayfield. “’Trigger it’s all proper.”

The Coronary heart of Rock and Roll
On the James Earl Jones Theater, Manhattan; heartofrocknrollbway.com. Working time: 2 hours half-hour.

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