Review Roundup: Matt Doyle and Katie Rose Clarke Lead THE HEART OF ROCK & ROLL in San Diego
The Old Globe's 2018-2019 Season kicks off with the world premiere of The Heart of Rock & Roll, inspired by the music of Huey Lewis and the News, featuring a book by Jonathan Abrams and story by Tyler Mitchell and Jonathan Abrams.
The Heart of Rock & Roll will run through October 21, 2018 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Globe's Conrad PrebysTheatre Center. Preview performances run September 6 - September 13. Opening night is Friday, September 14, 2018. Tickets are currently available by subscription only and will go on sale to the general public on Sunday, August 5, 2018, beginning at 12:00 noon. Tickets start at $39.00 and can be purchased online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE, or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.
An electrifying world premiere musical comedy inspired by the songs of one of the most beloved and iconic acts in music history, Huey Lewis and the News. Mainstays on the Chicago dive bar circuit, Bobby and his band are hustling for their big break. But after their latest rejection, Bobby decides it's "Hip to Be Square," trades in his guitar, and starts "Workin' for a Livin'" in corporate America. His boss, Cassandra, has struggles of her own, having sacrificed her personal life for the company. When they both get a shot at their dreams-for Bobby, another crack at rock stardom, and for Cassandra, a chance to become CEO-they must decide "If This Is It" for their careers, or if "The Power of Love" triumphs over all. The Heart of Rock & Roll celebrates the classic songs of Huey Lewisand the News in this heartwarming and hilarious new musical.
The creative team includes Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Scenic Design), Tony winner Paloma Young (Costume Design), Tony winner Howell Binkley (Lighting Design),David Patridge and Tony winner John Shivers (Sound Design), Matt Doebler(Music Director), Tara Rubin Casting/Eric Woodall, CSA (Casting), and Anjee Nero(Production Stage Manager).
What did the critics have to say?
James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune: In fact, if this polished people-pleaser of a production goes astray, it's in being a little too true to the unassuming spirit of the tunes it celebrates. In looks and scale, "Heart" is a splashy show; that can make it feel a bit of a mismatch with the story, which pivots on some pretty low-key dreams that don't necessarily leave an audience breathless at what choices the main characters might make.
Charles McNulty, LA Times: "The Heart of Rock & Roll" has a sitcom quality not unlike "Escape to Margaritaville." The Huey Lewis and the News show doesn't have the inebriated loucheness of that Jimmy Buffett vehicle. It's more clean-cut in its sensibility, more earnestly ingenuous. It's the kind of show that might have you saying, "Aw, shucks! This isn't very good, but I like it anyway!"
Eric George Tauber, San Diego Jewish World: Matt Doyle sparkles with infectious, all-American boy energy with a heavy dose of chutzpah as Bobby Kearns. The lead singer in a rock band, he loves what he does. But at thirty-five, he's still playing dive bars, not stadia. Time to get a "real job." This brings him to the Stone Box Company where It's Hip to be Square. Though no longer a rocker, Bobby is determined to be a somebody, climbing up the corporate ladder and into the arms of the boss' daughter, Cassandra.
David Coddon, San Diego City Beat: All the stage bells and whistles are on display in this Globe production directed by Gordon Greenberg. The versatile set (designed by Derek McLane) shifts impressively from dive bar to product convention floor to Chicago's Navy Pier and more. Lorin Latarro's choreography is likewise inspired and, in one particularly memorable sequence, bubble wrap is used as a dance floor.
Welton Jones, San Diego Story: The real musical guiding hand here seems to be one Brian Usifer, credited with rounding up the songs, arranging and orchestrating them and supervising Matt Doebler and eight other excellent pit musicians in the so-right sound. Usifer even contributed to one of the new songs. As the niche called jukebox evolves, polished artists like Usifer will emerge to help enrich an otherwise forgettable era of musical shows.
Brad Auerbach, Entertainment Today: Direction by Gordon Greenberg keeps the show chugging along, and kudos to some inventive choreography by Lorin Latarro. And of course, big kudos to Jonathan A. Abrams and Tyler Mitchell for stitching together the story and book in clever fashion.
Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema: Generations ago, a book was written just as an excuse to get to the next Gershwin or Porter tune. So the easiest way to write around that was formula. Abrams does that in spades, but his boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl scenario - sprinkled liberally with outlandish characters, silly jokes, and a quick wrap-up - isn't special. The formula used here works as much as it gets in the way. Lewis's songs are palatable and filled with unassailable sunniness, so the story should counter that. Instead, it's awash in sophomoric humor (a Baltic business bigwig is named "Harrison Fjord"? Really?).