Corey Cott and McKenzie Kurtz Will Lead THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL; Full Cast Revealed!

The Heart of Rock and Roll begins previews on Friday, March 29 with opening night set for Monday, April 22.

By: Jan. 16, 2024
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Corey Cott and McKenzie Kurtz Will Lead THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL; Full Cast Revealed!
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The full cast has been revealed for the upcoming Broadway production of The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs written and performed by Huey Lewis and The News. The cast will be led by Corey Cott and McKenzie Kurtz in the lead roles.

“The casting process has so far been the most thrilling part of creating this show," said Lewis. "It’s all just words and notes on a page until an actor gives it life. I am so grateful that this incredible company, made up of some of the world’s most talented stage performers, will be telling our story and singing our songs.” 

He continued, “We have Corey Cott (Newsies) and McKenzie Kurtz (Wicked) starring as Bobby and Cassandra, the will-they/won’t-they couple at the center of our story. I know tons of Broadway fans already know just how dynamic and gifted they are, but their chemistry together is nothing short of electric. 

The principal cast also includes Josh Breckenridge (Come From Away), F. Michael Haynie (Wicked), Zoe Jensen (Six), Tamika Lawrence (Caroline or Change), Raymond J. Lee (Sweeney Todd), John-Michael Lyles (A Strange Loop), Orville Mendoza (Swept Away), Billy Harrigan Tighe (Pippin) and John Dossett (Wicked).

Mike Baerga (Bad Cinderella), Tommy Bracco (Newsies), TyNia René Brandon (Some Like It Hot), Olivia Cece (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), Taylor Marie Daniel (Pal Joey), Lindsay Joan (Kinky Boots), Ross Lekites (Parade), Robin Masella (Shucked), Kara Menendez (Women on Fire), Michael Olaribigbe (Elvis at North Shore Music Theatre), Kevin Pariseau (Little Shop of Horrors), and Robert Pendilla (A Beautiful Noise) round out our ensemble, with Joe Moeller (& Juliet), Jennifer Noble (Ghost The Musical), Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), and Leah Read (Rock of Ages) as the hardest working people in show business: the swings.”

 The Heart of Rock and Roll will open on Broadway at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036) with previews beginning on Friday, March 29 with opening night set for Monday, April 22.

Set in 1987 and jam-packed with Huey Lewis megahits like “Do You Believe in Love”, “Hip to Be Square” , and “If This Is It,” The Heart of Rock and Roll centers on a couple of twenty-somethings on the cusp of their futures—Bobby, a rock and roller who’s traded his guitar for the corporate ladder and his boss Cassandra who’s always put the family business first. When they both get a second shot at their dreams, it’ll take “The Power of Love” and a little help from their friends — to figure out what kind of life they really want. 

The Heart of Rock and Roll is a smart, funny, heartfelt throwback to the era of big feelings, classic rom coms, and music that really “Stuck With You.” 

The production will feature a book by Jonathan A. Abrams, and story by Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan A. Abrams. Music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Brian Usifer, musical direction by Will Van Dyke, choreography is by Lorin Latarro and The Heart of Rock and Roll will be directed by Gordon Greenberg.

Additional creative team members are Derek McLane (Scenic Designer), Jen Caprio (Costume Designer), Japhy Weideman (Lighting Designer), John Shivers (Sound Designer), Nikiya Mathis (Hair, Wig, and Makeup Designer), Tara Rubin Casting / Peter Van Dam CSA (Casting Director), Justin Scribner (Production Stage Manager).

The Heart of Rock and Roll premiered in San Diego at The Old Globe, helmed by Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein and the Audrey S. Geisel Managing Director Timothy J. Shields, in 2018. Read the reviews here.

Biographies

Corey Cott (Bobby) returns to Broadway having previously starred as ‘Donny Novitski’ in the musical Bandstand, ‘Gaston Lachailles’ in the revival of Gigi, and his Broadway debut as ‘Jack Kelly’ in Disney's Newsies. On screen, he co-starred in the Fox series “Filthy Rich” and in the Hallmark movies Making Waves and Butlers in Love. Other appearances include: “The Equalizer”, “Chicago Med”, “Law & Order” and “L&O: SVU”, “Evil”, “The Good Fight”, “Z: The Beginning of Everything”, and the BBC miniseries “My Mother and Other Strangers”. Corey played ‘Tony’ in Francesca Zambello’s productions of West Side Story at Chicago’s Lyric Theater and with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center. He made his Carnegie Hall debut singing with Steven Reineke and the New York Pops, and recently sang with Rob Fisher and the San Diego Symphony under The Rady Shell. Corey is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

McKenzie Kurtz (Cassandra) is currently starring as Glinda in the Broadway production of Wicked. She made her Broadway debut in Frozen and appeared in the 1st National Tour. She can be seen as a guest star on Disney+'s “She/Hulk” as well as in NBC Live's production of “Annie” as the fan-favorite role of Star to Be. Previous theatre credits include Trading Places (The Alliance) Footloose (The Muny) and Female Troubles (Williamstown). She is a graduate of The University of Michigan School of Music Theater and Dance.

John Dossett (Stone) has been a professional actor in NYC since 1979 and has appeared in 20 Broadway productions, among them: Wicked, War Paint, Newsies, Pippin, The Constant Wife, Gypsy (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Dinner at Eight, Ragtime, Democracy, Prelude to a Kiss, Fifth of July. Off-Broadway: Parade (City Center), Heart of Rock & Roll (Old Globe), Dear Evan Hansen (Second Stage), Giant (Public Theater, Drama Desk nomination), Saved (Playwrights Horizons), The Clean House and Hello Again (LCT), Dinner with Friends, A Number (People's Light), A Small Fire (Philadelphia Theater Company). As a Company Member of Circle Rep: Reckless, The Diviners, Childe Byron, Dalton's Back, Sunshine, El Salvador, others. TV/Film: “Madam Secretary,” “Blue Bloods,” “Elementary,” “Law & Order(s),” “Sex and the City,” and HBO’s “John Adams”.

Josh Breckenridge (Wyatt). Broadway: Come From Away, The Scottsboro Boys, The Ritz. Off-Broadway: The Scottsboro Boys, Saved. Nat’l Tour: Into the Woods, The Book of Mormon. Reg’l: Scrooge... (Old Globe), Tootsie (Ogunquit), Christmas in Connecticut (Goodspeed), Dave (Arena), Sunday…George (Huntington), The Whipping Man (KC Rep), Tales of the City (A.C.T.), TSB (Guthrie), Hairspray (Marriott), Smokey Joes Café (Cape), HSM2, Dreamgirls (N.C.T), Memphis (La Jolla/5th Ave). Film: Finding Me: Truth. TV: “American Rust,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Blacklist,” “FBI,” “Finding Me: The Series.” BFA: CCM. Debut album: Monotony.

F. Michael Haynie (Glenn) (they/them). Broadway: Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Holler If Ya Hear Me. Olaf in Frozen Tour. Off-Broadway: Carrie (MCC), Dogfight (Second Stage) and others. Regional: Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ogunquit), Found (PTC), The Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe) and others. TV/Film: “Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” (NBC), “Peter Pan LIVE!” (NBC), “Not Fade Away” (Paramount). Special thanks to my friend and the biggest “Loop” fan there is, the legendary Huey Lewis. Thanks to my Moms, JP, Grace, FF&FA, GUESA, the (M)orons, and Nicolosi & Co. 

Zoe Jensen (Paige). Broadway: Katherine Howard in Six, Dear Evan Hansen. National Tour: Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton (1st national). Off Broadway: We Are the Tigers. Rockford, IL native. BFA Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Tamika Lawrence (Roz). Two Time Grammy Singer, Actor, and Writer. Broadway: Caroline Or Change, Gettin’ the Band Back Together, 20, Dear Evan Hansen (Virtual Cast), Beautiful, If/Then, Matilda, The Book of Mormon. Off-Broadway: Black No More (Drama Desk Nomination: Best Actress in A Musical) Hercules (The Public Theater) Rent, The Tempest (The Public Theater).  Television: “That Damn Michael Che”, “Modern Love”, “The Last OG” “The Wiz Live!,” “Vinyl” (HBO), “Show Me a Hero” (HBO), “Blue Bloods,” “Law & Order: SVU.” Movies: “Mean Girls”, “Better Nate Than Never”, “The Greatest Showman”, “Dear Evan Hansen”, “White Girl”, “Breakable You”. For Mom, Dad, and Bastian.

Raymond J. Lee (JJ). Ray was most recently in the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd where he covered Pirelli and Beadle Bamford. Additional Broadway credits include Aladdin (Iago), Anything Goes (John), Groundhog Day (Ralph), Honeymoon in Vegas, and Mamma Mia! Other NY stage credits include Soft Power (The Public), Mack & Mabel (Encores!), The Wild Party (Encores!), and Two Gentlemen of Verona (The Public). Regional credits include the world premieres of Once Upon a One More Time (STC), Trading Places (Alliance), and Christmas in Connecticut (Goodspeed). Film/TV credits include “Marriage Story”, “Fire Island”, The Greatest Showman, “Law & Order,” “The First Lady,” “Succession,” “Billions,” “Red Oaks,” and “Smash.” He has voiced numerous projects for Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and Netflix (including “Squid Game”), as well as multiple audiobooks and Film/TV soundtracks.

John-Michael Lyles (Eli) is an Obie-winning actor who recently achieved his Broadway debut in the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical, A Strange Loop! His film debut was alongside Alec Baldwin in Blind, and he’s guest/co-starred in “The Other Two,” “Chicago PD,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” & “The OA.” At NYC’s Barrow Street, he performed in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, The Flick, and played Tobias in their critically acclaimed Sweeney Todd. The New York Times lauded his “hauntingly simple performance” as the Courier in 1776 at NY City Center Encores, where he went on to perform in Love Life & Big River! He’s also been seen in This Ain’t No Disco (Atlantic), Brooklynite (Vineyard) & Jasper In Deadland (Prospect). Regionally, he played Dickon in CTG’s The Secret Garden, originated the role of Toby in Bliss at the 5th Avenue, co-starred in Second City’s production of The Art of Falling and was deemed a “fleet and winning phenom on stage” in the Guthrie’s Choir Boy. As a Vivace Award-winning composer/lyricist/librettist, he’s been commissioned by 5th Avenue Theater’s Raise Your Voice program, and he’s currently co-writing a new musical, Shoot for the Moon, with prestigious support from The Relentless Award (finalist), Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, MTF Makers Cohort 2 and Dramatist Guild Fellows Class of ’21. He also wrote additional music for Second Stage’s We’re Gonna Die!

Orville Mendoza (Fjord) most recently appeared in the East Coast premiere of Swept Away directed by Michael Mayer at Arena Stage. Broadway: Pacific Overtures, Peter and the Starcatcher. Off-Broadway: Plays for the Plague Year, Road Show, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, Passion, Found, Ivanov, The Seagull, Adrift in Macao (Barrymore Award winner and Drama Desk nomination). Many regional theatre credits. Toured the US and Canada in Miss Saigon for 6 years. US Television: “Billions,” “Dead Ringers,” “The Blacklist,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.

Billy Harrigan Tighe (Tucker). Broadway: Pippin. West End: The Book of Mormon (Elder Price). Off Broadway: Sweeney Todd (Anthony Hope). National Tours: Finding Neverland (JM Barrie), The Book of Mormon (Elder Price), Wicked (Fiyero), La Cage Aux Folles (JeanMichel), Dirty Dancing. Favorite Regional: Cinderella (Topher; Papermill Playhouse), Secret of My Success (Brantley; Paramount Theater), Cabaret (Cliff; Ogunquit Playhouse, Atlanta Opera), A Chorus Line (Zach; PCLO), Back Home Again (Ben; Lesher Center), Hairspray (Link; Marriott Theatre), Happy Days (Potsie; Goodspeed Opera House), Spamalot (Galahad; City Springs Theatre Company). Guest soloist for symphonies across the country and internationally. Co-director of City Springs Pre-Professional Conservatory with his wife, Kristine Reese.

Mike Baerga (Ensemble). TV/Film: Disney+ film Better Nate Than Ever, HBO’s “We’re Here” (Choreographer). Broadway: The Heart of Rock and Roll (Asst Dance Captain), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bad Cinderella, King Kong (Chita Rivera Award, Outstanding Ensemble; Special Tony Award, OCC Special Achievement for puppetry), Miss Saigon: 2017 Revival (Tony nomination, Best Revival); and Moulin Rouge (Lab). Off Broadway/Concert: New York City Center, The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera, Carmen at Houston Grand Opera (Soloist), Anyone Can Whistle (Carnegie Hall,) 50 years of Broadway (Kennedy Center). Regional: Can-Can, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, West Side Story (Bernardo), and Kiss Me, Kate (Gremio). Training: BA University of Houston, MFA Dance/Choreography NYU, Cedar Lake 360, Joffrey Ballet.

Tommy Bracco (Ensemble). Previous New York Theatre: Giulio in Pretty Woman the Musical (OBC), Spot Conlon in Disney’s Newsies (OBC), Mike in A Chorus Line at City Center Encores! and The Hairy Ape at the Park Avenue Armory. Other favorites include LeFou in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at The Muny, Sonny in Grease at Papermill Playhouse and Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls at Barrington Stage. In addition to theatre, Tommy was a contestant on the competition reality shows CBS’ “Big Brother” and MTV’s “The Challenge”. Podcast: REAL TAWK available on all podcast streaming platforms.

TyNia René Brandon (Ensemble) (she/they) is a Charlotte, NC native. Favorite credits include Some Like It Hot (OBC), The Lion King, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. All thanks to family, friends, Clear Talent Group, and Leo. Reaching back, moving forward.

Olivia Cece (Ensemble) was born and raised in Cranston, RI, where she trained at APAC for 15 years and then Miami, Florida for a short period of time. She then moved to New York City to attend the prestigious Pace University Commercial Dance Program in both NYC and Los Angeles and graduated with her BFA. Olivia has since worked in all facets of the industry including TV/ film, appearing on “SNL” with Miley Cyrus, “So You Think You Can Dance,” Apple TV series “Lady in the Lake,” “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade”, Disney’s Better Nate than Ever Movie, Nickelodeon's Emmy nominated Blues Big City Adventure Movie, and more. Olivia has performed for live industrials for Apple, Hyundai Genesis, and New York Fashion week for Breitling. Olivia’s favorite credits include her time on the live stage. She was cast in two Broadway first national tours, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory as Ensemble/Veruca Salt, and her second tour as “Kaylee” in the original cast of The Prom. As of recent, Olivia made her Broadway debut as a swing in Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Taylor Marie Daniel (Ensemble) is beyond excited to be making her Broadway debut in The Heart of Rock and Roll. Taylor Marie is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre Program (22”). Her credits include Bulda in Frozen (National Tour), Betty in Pal Joey at New York City Center, Deena Jones in Dreamgirls at The Paramount Theater in Chicago, Chiffon in Little Shop Of Horrors, Legally Blonde (Ens, Pilar u/s) and Mary Poppins at The Muny. Taylor Marie dedicates every performance to her father, Thomas Daniel.  She would also like to thank her friends and family for their endless love and support. Exist Loudly!

Lindsay Joan (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her Broadway debut alongside such a gifted cast and team of artists! Off-Broadway & Nat’l Tour: Kinky Boots (u/s Lauren, Nicola), NBC’s “The Voice” Season 20 (Team Nick Jonas).

Ross Lekites (Ensemble). Broadway: Parade, The Music Man, Tina (OBC), Frozen (OBC), Kinky Boots, NY City Center: Brigadoon (Charlie Dalrymple). Tours: West Side Story (Tony), Kinky Boots. Film/TV: “Frozen 2”, “Schmigadoon”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Time After Time”.

Robin Masella (Ensemble). Broadway: Shucked, Bad Cinderella (OBC), Frozen, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (OBC), Cats. Off-Broadway: Evita (City Center), High Button Shoes (City Center), I Married an Angel (City Center), Trip of Love (Stage 42), West Side Story (Carnegie Hall), Candide (Lincoln Center), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Concert), Chess (Concert) National Tours: Frozen (1st National), Evita (1st National), Chicago. Regional: The MUNY, Sacramento Music Circus, Goodspeed Opera House, TUTS. Robin is the Associate Choreographer for the Broadway musical Shucked, the Broadway bound musical The Wanderer, and the “75th Annual Tony Awards”. Robin has also choreographed for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” working with JLo, Meghan Thee Stallion, Janet Jackson and more. Robin has performed on the “The Tony Awards”, “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”, “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”.

Kara Menendez (Ensemble) is from Tinton Falls, New Jersey. She is a New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble Alumni. After many years of training under artistic director Nancy Turano, Kara furthered her dance studies and attended Marymount Manhattan College where she performed works by Emery Lecrone, Paul Taylor, Alexandra Damiani, Norbert De La Cruz, Darrell Moultrie, Adam Baruch, Breton Tyner Bryan and Larry Kegwin. She graduated magna cum laude receiving her BFA Degree in Dance with a Ballet Concentration along with a Business Minor. Post graduation her professional credits include Off-Broadway Women On Fire: Stories from the Frontlines and Anne of Green Gables (Royal Family Productions). Regional theatre credits include West Side Story (Virginia Repertory Theatre) and Mamma Mia! (Axelrod Performing Arts Center). She has also been featured in a music video for the pop-rock band KITTEN (song: Strange Embrace). Internationally Kara performed in Tokyo Broadcasting Service’s production of West Side Story at IHI Stage Around; a 360 degree theatre in Tokyo, Japan. She enjoys inspiring the next generation of young dancers teaching all around, including places like the Joffrey Ballet School. Kara has also traveled around the country judging for Starbound National Talent Competition. Most recently, she finished her run at Moulin Rouge! The Musical for the Broadway company.

Michael Olaribigbe (Ensemble) is making his Broadway Debut! Some of his credits include Roy Brown in ELVIS: A Musical Revolution, Purlie in A Christmas Carol (North Shore Music Theatre), Tiger in West Side Story (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Angel in Kinky Boots (The Muny), Ensemble in World Premiere of The Griswolds Broadway Vacation (5th Avenue Theatre); Film/TV: “A Jazzman’s Blues” (Tyler Perry & Debbie Allen).

Kevin Pariseau (Ensemble) appeared most recently as Mushnik in Michael Mayer’s long-running off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors. Notable productions include the original Broadway casts of Legally Blonde the Musical (ACCA Award) and Ink, Bart Sher’s national tour of Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning My Fair Lady as Col. Pickering, the Kennedy Center production of Sunset Blvd. (Sheldrake), the NY Philharmonic presentation of Show Boat (Jim), and the Encores! production of Grand Hotel (Witt) directed by Josh Rhodes. On television, he has appeared in “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Blacklist,” “Evil,” and two seasons of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” His film credits include Tower Heist (d. Brett Ratner) and Morning Glory (d. the late Roger Michell). Kevin Pariseau’s audiobook narrations have garnered many notable honors, including his 2012 Audie nomination in Fiction for Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War”, his 2014 SOVA nomination for Outstanding Science Fiction Narration for Dan Simmons’ Ilium, and his AudioFile Earphones Award for the 2010 winner in the Best of Science Fiction category, William Gibson’s Burning Chrome.

Robert Pendilla (Ensemble): Broadway credits include: A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical (Original Cast, Swing, Co-Dance Captain, u/s Fred Weintraub, u/s Tommy O’Rourke, u/s Bert Berns, u/s Kieve Diamond), Kinky Boots; Original Cast (Swing, u/s Richard Bailey), Miss Saigon Revival (Ensemble, u/s Asst. Commissar), Wicked (Ensemble, u/s Boq). National Tour credits: Wicked (Swing, u/s Boq), Mamma Mia (Pepper), Miss Saigon Revival (Ensemble). Regional credits: Swept Away (Swing), Kinky Boots (Referee Angel), The Heart of Rock & Roll (Ensemble, u/s Fjord, u/s Eli), Flower Drum Song (Ensemble), Aida (Ensemble), Mame (Ensemble), My Fair Lady (Ensemble).

Joe Moeller (Swing) (he/him) Broadway: & Juliet.  Tours/Vegas: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Joseph…, Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!  Joe would like to dedicate this show to his grandparents, Ralph and Connie, who gifted him his first voice lessons 20 years ago.

Jennifer Noble (Swing). Broadway credits: King Kong (understudy Ann Darrow); Ghost: The Musical (understudy Molly). National tours: We Will Rock You (understudy Scaramouche); Kinky Boots (understudy Nicola). Regional credits: Jesus Christ Superstar at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Griswolds' Broadway Vacation and Bliss at Seattle’s 5th Avenue; also Milwaukee Rep, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Playhouse Square, and La Jolla Playhouse. TV/Film: “White House Plumbers”; “Law & Order” (actually not yet, but manifesting); the upcoming documentary At This Performance. If she looks familiar, you may have seen her on the marquee of Chicago the Musical at the Ambassador Theatre down the street (at least at the time this went up online). @thejennoble. So much love to DFG, Dad, and Zach. For MSHN.

Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard (Swing). Broadway: Moulin Rouge! The Musical (OBC/Boston: Assistant Dance Captain/Ensemble, National Tour: Swing (u/s Santiago), Kinky Boots (Angel), Finding Neverland (Swing), Off Broadway: Pageant (Principal Standby), National/International/Regional: Cabaret (Ensemble, u/s Cliff, u/s Ernst), We Will Rock You (Madonna/ u/s Khashoggi), West Side Story (Snowboy), Las Vegas: Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis, Cher, and Celine Dion’s A New Day...at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. TV/Film: Hallmark’s “Taking the Reins” (Matthew), “Fosse/Verdon” (FX), “Rent: Live” (Fox), “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” (Hulu), among many others on ABC, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and The CW.

Leah Read (Swing). Broadway debut. Leah’s favorite credits include the Off-Broadway and Las Vegas companies of Rock of Ages, The Cher Show (Ogunquit), “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, and dancing back up for Wyclef Jean. Leah is an Oklahoma native and a Pace Commercial Dance graduate! Yeehaw!!




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