Huey Lewis on bringing his music to Broadway in “The Heart of Rock and Roll”

May 24, 2024
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The music of singer-songwriter Huey Lewis has transitioned from paper to the Broadway stage in the new musical, “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” Set in the 1980s, it features some of Lewis’s greatest hits, including “Do You Believe in Love,” “Hip to Be Square,” and “If This Is It.”

Lewis shared that it was his next-door neighbor, a musical theater buff, who suggested to his son-in-law, Tyler Mitchell, a film producer, that they create a musical based on Lewis’s music. Nine years and 27 drafts later, “The Heart of Rock and Roll” was formed.

Lewis, who led the band Huey Lewis and the News, expressed his amazement at seeing his songs come to life on stage. He credited the creative team, including  Jonathan A. Abrams Tyler Mitchell and Hunter Arnold, along with the cast, for their efforts.

“It’s amazing but gratifying to see your songs live this other life,” Lewis said.

The original musical, set to the backdrop of Lewis’s iconic music, features standout performances, especially from McKenzie Kurtz and Corey Cott. 

“We can just write words and music and dance steps, but it’s up to the cast to infuse those characters with real life and ideas, and our cast is marvelous,” he said.

Despite facing challenges that included a 2018 diagnosis of Ménière’s disease — an inner ear issue that can cause hearing loss, and vertigo, according to the Mayo Clinic — Lewis, who lost some of his hearing due to the disease, remained optimistic and sought various treatments that included acupuncture and holistic methods.

“Ménière’s is something they don’t know a lot about,” he said. “And, in the end of the day, I have to remind myself that there are a lot of people that are much worse off, and I’m still a lucky guy.”

Despite his hearing issues, Lewis continued to contribute creatively to “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” including writing a new song for the musical shortly after his diagnosis. 

“The Heart of Rock and Roll” is currently showing at the James Earl Jones Theatre on Broadway. 

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