The phenomenon of the so-called "jukebox musical" is one that's been a staple of the stage since the '70s, when Beatlemania landed on Broadway and took the Great White Way by storm. Since then, there have been musicals devoted to the music of everyone from ABBA and Queen to Buddy Holly and Hank Williams. As such, it's less surprising that Huey Lewis' The Heart of Rock & Roll is heading to Broadway than it is that it took more than a decade for it to finally land there.
Produced by Hunter Arnold, Kayla Greenspan, and Tyler Mitchell, who was the guilty party who initially proposed a show based on the band’s music more than 10 years ago, The Heart of Rock & Roll first came to fruition in 2018, when it broke the record for highest gross per performance at San Diego’s Old Globe theater.
Set to premiere at Broadway's James Earl Jones Theater on April 22, 2024, the official website for the musical describes the proceedings as "a raucous rom-com wrapped in pure musical joy" and explains that it "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."
Music supervisor and orchestrator Brian Usifer tweaked the songs to work a bit better within their new environment, just as Lewis adjusted the lyrics somewhat to make them match up better with new contexts or new singers.
"I first fell in love with all that is Broadway when I appeared as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago in 2009, and I continue to believe that musical theater, because it's so demanding, is also the the most rewarding form of artistic expression," Lewis said in a video on the official Huey Lewis and the News YouTube channel. "We've been working on our show a long time, and we're very proud of it.
"It's funny and smart and it has a lot of heart," continued Lewis, "and although I'm not in it and it's not about my life, it does feature all of our biggest songs, including 'The Power of Love,' 'Hip to Be Square,' 'If This Is It,' 'Doing It All for My Baby,' 'I Want a New Drug,' 'Jacob's Ladder,' 'Back in Time,' etc. So needless to say, we're beyond excited to be bringing our show to the world's most prestigious venue: Broadway, New York."