Foreigner's 'Jukebox' Musical Plots Toronto Premiere

Karsten Staiger
Foreigner

Foreigner will be joining such iconic artists as Meat Loaf, ABBA, Carole King, Queen, Buddy Holly, Green Day, and Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, by having their hits song woven into a new stage production. Jukebox Hero, The Musical will have its world premiere in Toronto at Ed Mirvish Theatre for a limited run of shows, Feb. 20 to 24.

Foreigner, which formed in 1976, has sold more than 80 million albums, 37.5 million of those in the U.S.

The show is produced by Annerin Productions, a division of the Canadian-based Jeff Parry Promotions, whose current jukebox musicals are PFX– The Pink Floyd Experience; A Night with Sinatra; The Last Waltz Remembered; and Let It Be – A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles.

Named after their 1981 hit about a boy who couldn't get into a sold-out rock concert, Jukebox Hero, The Musical features 16 songs, such as "Cold As Ice," "Hot Blooded", "Waiting For A Girl Like You," "Dirty White Boy" and No. 1 global smash "I Want To Know What Love Is."

The storyline follows "the closing of rust-belt town of Blaydon, Pennsylvania's biggest factory," the press release states. "Confronted with a deluge of unemployment and instability, the community calls on Ryan, a local boy turned rock 'n' roll superstar, for help. Yet Ryan never left his roots on good terms, so must confront the ghosts of his past as well as a home he no longer recognises."

The idea for a musical based on Foreigner's songs dates back to the 1980s, when founder, co-writer lead guitarist Mick Jones bumped into Diana Ross in an airport lounge, according to the release.

British writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (The Commitments, Across the Universe) wrote "the book," as it's referred to in the theater world, with an artistic team led by Jones and the band's managers Phil Carson and Stewart Young, whose career track record includes AC/DC; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Yes; and Led Zeppelin.

The Canadian production will be directed by Randy Johnson (A Night With Janis Joplin), and choreographed by Parker Esse, with musical direction by Mark Camilleri (Toxic Avenger, Dr. Seuss's The Lorax).

The show was work-shopped in Calgary and Edmonton, featuring a Canadian cast of Geordie Brown (Rent, Stan Rogers: A Matter of Heart) Laura Tremblay, (The Expanse, Ben-Hur, The Cocksure Lads) and Cleopatra Williams (Kinky Boots, Jersey Boys, We Will Rock You, Wizard of Oz).

Jeff Parry Promotions has been operating more than 30 years, shifting its focus the past decade to create "nostalgic theatrical concerts for audiences to experience legendary artists who are no longer touring," the release states. Past productions include: Bjorn Again, Barrage, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, The Australian Bee Gees Show and RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles, which had a successful Broadway Run in 2010/2011.

Foreigner, whose original singer was Lou Gramm, has continued to tour with a revolving door of players; Kelly Hanson is the current lead singer. Earlier this month, all of the surviving original members joined the current line-up at Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles to kick of four Double Vision: Then and Now shows. The latest lineup will continue touring in 2019.