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By Elizabeth Youngman-Westlphal
Special to The Village News 

Rocking out at The Old Globe

 

Last updated 10/8/2018 at 4:13pm

Jim Cox photos

From left, Orville Mendoza as Fjord, Katie Rose Clarke as Cassandra, Matt Doyle as Bobby, James Royce Edwards and Robert Pendilla as part of the ensemble perform in "The Heart of Rock & Roll."

Yes, the "Heart of Rock and Roll" is the music! Toe tapping, knee slapping, fist pumping, heart-throbbing music fever. It's the steady beat that drives the story in this musical comedy love story. Huey Lewis' music is jubilantly rhythmic, transporting the show to another galaxy.

Faced with his hardest decision to date, Bobby (Matt Doyle) puts his rock and roll dreams away and takes a grown-up job. After two years working at the Stone Box Company as a salesman, Bobby still occasionally wonders if he took the right path. Doyle has it all, charisma, looks and an extraordinary voice.

The other members in his band include Glenn played by F. Michael Haynie, JJ by Lucas Papaelias and Eli by Zachary Noah Piser. They really outperform their roles as the down and out loser band. (For the record, this particular-singing-foursome would make it in any town especially Chicago.)

The band's agent, Nina, is played flawlessly by Lindsay Nicole Chambers. She plays Nina with as much heart as every agent I've ever known – which means she doesn't have a heart – which makes her characterization faultless.

Here we are at the Stone Box Company and wondering will the current CEO retire or not? And, if he does, will Stone give his daughter the top job? Not much of a plot, though John Dossett makes the most of it.

Katie Rose Clarke is Stone's daughter Cassandra. Clarke and Dossett are realistic when together and easy to watch. Both have sound vocals and great interaction.

Cass's gal pal Paige is played by Paige Faure. She is witty. An excellent dancer. And Faure has the pipes to stay up with the other remarkable singers in the cast.

Tucker is Cass's preppie beau brilliantly played by Billy Harrigan Tighe. Obnoxious and kooky (Tucker is never without his backup acapella trio). Tighe carries every scene he is in while setting the stage on fire.

Speaking of on fire, Patrice Covington plays Roz, the office manager and Bobby's supervisor at Stone Box Company. In the past, Covington has been a backup singer for Jennifer Hudson which is impressive, yet her vocals are astonishing and worthy of being up front.

At Chicago's cardboard box trade show, Orville Mendoza plays Fjord, the quirky executive who will launch his new product using Stone boxes. Mendoza is pleasantly weird in every way.

The outstanding ensemble completes the cast, starting with Bryan Banville, Katie Banville, Nicolette Burton, James Royce Edwards, Oyoyo Joi, Robert Pendilla, Christopher Ramirez (Wyatt), Mimi Scardulla, Salisha Thomas and Josh Tolle.

Even though director Gordon Greenberg used many Tony Award winners like the costume designer, set designer and lighting and sound, a few things were still out of kilter.

For instance, why did renowned costume designer Paloma Young dress two successful women, Cass and Roz, in the dregs of Goodwill while the men showed up at the office or trade show wearing Hugo Boss. Experience would suggest these women working so near the Miracle Mile would dress up, not dowdy.

No one seems to want to take credit or blame for hair and makeup, rightly so, it is underwhelming.

Tony Award winner scenic designer Derek McLane has placed a rotating Ferris wheel on the Navy Pier. And that is correct. But he has either not been to Chi-town or he is just playing with the topography having the city lights behind the wheel.

Writers Jonathan Abrams and Tyler Mitchell won an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award for this work. Even so, if not for Lewis' extensive catalog of top hits used written for, with or by Huey Lewis, this review would probably be about another show.

In front, Matt Doyle as Bobby and Katie Rose Clarke as Cassandra dance with the cast of The Heart of Rock & Roll," running Sept. 6 – Oct. 21 at The Old Globe.

As one would hope, music director Matt Doebler leads an outstanding group of musicians enhanced by the clear sound designed by the Tony Award winners John Shivers and David Patridge. The fabulous lighting is designed by another Tony Award winner Howell Binkley. Clearly the big guns have been hired to push this show to Broadway...but not yet.

Huey Lewis and the News is the originator of this classical rock and roll sound. Founded in 1979, the group has sold over 30 million albums (five went gold, platinum or multi-platinum) with many individual songs skyrocketed to No. 1 on the Billboards Top 200.

Too bad for us, Lewis attended the San Diego opening night on Sept. 14 at the Donald & Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre at the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. Parking is free but allow plenty of time to find it, if possible at 5 p.m. to allow for easy parking and one can enjoy a bite at the El Prado with Happy Hour prices. The show closes Oct. 21. Contact the box office at (619) 234-5623 or TheOldGlobe.org. This production is rated: Show 9 - the Music 10.

The writer can be reached at eyoungman@reedermedia.com

 

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