The Heart Of Rock N’ Roll stops beating: Huey Lewis Broadway musical closes

 Huey Lewis' musical The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll.
Credit: Youtube/The Old Globe

The Broadway production of the Huey Lewis jukebox musical The Heart Of Rock N’ Roll is to close this weekend after just 72 performances.

It only opened in April to broadly positive reviews, but it was not nominated for any Tony Awards and had been struggling at the box office with the James Earl Jones Theatre often just half full.

The story centred on a factory worker having to choose between succeeding at his job at a cardboard box factory and his dreams of making it as a rock star.

The show’s producer Hunter Arnold was putting a positive spin on it, saying in a statement: “It was pure joy working on the show with the team of creatives headed by writer Jonathan A. Abrams, director Gordon Greenberg, choreographer Lorin Latarro, music arranger and orchestrator Brian Usifer and special gratitude to the support and participation of the iconic music legend Huey Lewis.”

“We were honoured,” he continued, “to have an amazing cast and crew who brought their immense enthusiasm, commitment and talent to each and every performance. With our original cast album just released and talks underway for a national tour and international productions, the musical will continue to delight audiences for years to come.”

Jukebox musicals are far from easy to pull off. The successful examples such as We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia are veritable cash machines, but there are many that have failed to fire.

The Rod Stewart musical Tonight’s The Night closed after just over a year in the West End; whilst the musical based on the Madness songbook, Our House lasted just eight months, the same amount of time the Donna Summer story, Summer, lasted on Broadway.

And indeed it is a challenging time for theatre in general on Broadway. Since the pandemic production costs have risen and attendance has fallen. There are now over 32 shows running on Broadway, and many of them are losing money each week.

The Heart Of Rock N’ Roll pulled in $272,051 for the week ending June 9, which may sound a lot but is nowhere near enough to cover the running costs of a full-size Broadway production.

There has been no comment about the news from Lewis himself. In an interview last month with New York radio station Q1043 he talked movingly about his problems with hearing loss, but seemed chuffed at the musical’s mere existence, saying “To watch the people enjoy the musical is really gratifying.

"To see our songs live this other life and all the joy it inspires is really good. And the show's got a lot of heart. It's not just funny, but it's got a lot of heart and we're very proud of it."