Beginning September 6, Matt Doyle (Spring Awakening, The Book of Mormon, Sweeney Todd) will sing the songs of Huey Lewis and The News in The Old Globe’s production of the new jukebox musical The Heart of Rock and Roll. But Doyle has been singing Lewis songs—albeit offstage—for much longer than that.
“I grew up in Huey's hometown. I'm from Ross, California, and he lived down the block. I was obsessed with growing up him as a result,” Doyle told NBC in San Diego, home of The Old Globe. “My mom made sure I got all his records and knew who the rock star next door was.”
“When I booked it, it just seemed like it was something I had to do,” he said. “He has haunted me my entire life, so it seems appropriate. And he's a wonderful guy and to be able to carry the Huey Lewis flag there's some pressure but I love the music so much and I hope that comes across.”
Doyle plays leading man Bobby in the original musical, about an ex-rocker who leaves the music business because of his lack of success. “He craves being good at something ... he decided to go for a more normal life and moves to Milwaukee from Chicago,” Doyle explained. But just as he finds a new romance in Milwaukee, his music career begins buzzing again and he has to choose what success really means. “There's a lot of romance and a really honest way of approaching what we all go through at a certain point in our lives... The whole show has a John Hughes film kind of feel.”
And Lewis has been on hand in rehearsals to ensure it has a Huey Lewis and The News feel, too.
The Heart of Rock and Roll, directed by Gordon Greenberg, plays through October 21. The cast also features Katie Rose Clarke as Cassandra, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Patrice Covington, Tony nominee John Dossett, Paige Faure, F. Michael Haynie, Orville Mendoza, Lucas Papaelias, Zachary Noah Piser, Christopher Ramirez, and Billy Harrigan Tighe.
Rounding out the ensemble are Nicolette Burton, James Royce Edwards, Oyoyo Joi, Lucas Papaelias, Robert Pendilla, Christopher Ramirez, MiMi Scardulla, Salisha Thomas, and Josh Tolle, as well as swings Bryan Banville and Katie Banville.
The Heart of Rock & Roll will have choreography by Lorin Latarro, with music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Brian Usifer. The creative team includes Derek McLane (scenic design), Paloma Young (costume design), 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).
Watch the cast in rehearsals below: