TORONTO, ON, March 22 - Following a nationwide search, Nova Scotian singer/actor Geordie Brown has been cast in the leading role of the world premiere production of Jukebox Hero – the new musical featuring the music of rock band Foreigner. The announcement was made at a press conference this morning at the Sony Centre in Toronto.
As part of Foreigner’s 40th anniversary celebration, the British-American band announced this past year that the musical will premiere this summer in Canada. The show will be co-produced by Annerin Theatricals, a division of the Canadian production company behind Let It Be – A Celebration of the music of The Beatles.
With its world premiere scheduled for August 2018 at the 2500-seat Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, Jukebox Hero will also play Edmonton this summer. It was announced today that the show will also run at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre in February 2019. Jeff Parry, founder and CEO of Annerin Productions, says Jukebox Hero is “destined for Broadway.”
Written by Emmy Award winners Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the UK writing duo behind the 2007 musical film Across The Universe, Jukebox Hero will feature over a dozen of Foreigner’s greatest hits, including I Want To Know What Love Is, Cold As Ice, Waiting For A Girl Like You, Feels Like The First Time, Hot Blooded, Jukebox Hero, and Urgent.
The show will be directed by Randy Johnson, the writer and director of Broadway's Tony-nominated A Night With Janis Joplin. The show will be choreographed by Stratford Festival veteran and Dora Award winner Tracey Flye.
Foreigner, who are one of the best-selling bands of all time with ten multi-platinum albums and worldwide album sales surpassing 75 million, recently completed a 10-city western Canadian tour to help fund the musical.
“The profits from this current tour will go directly into funding the musical. Here are artists putting their money where their dream is,” said the band’s manager Phil Carson at a press conference in October.
“No band has ever done this before. ABBA certainly didn’t do that to help fund Mamma Mia!”
Jukebox Hero tells a fictional story set in Blaydon, Pennsylvania, a rust-belt town struggling after the closure of its biggest factory. A demoralized unemployed workforce seeks the help of its most famous son: music superstar Ryan Perry. When he returns to his hometown to put on a benefit concert, he realizes he also must confront the ghosts of his past.
The role of Ryan Perry will be originated by Nova Scotian Geordie Brown, who performed "I Wanna Know What Love Is" at today's press conference in Toronto.
Born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Brown will be joined on stage by an all-Canadian supporting cast, including Graham Scott Fleming (who played the lead role in the Canadian cast of Cyndi Lauper's Kinky Boots in Toronto). Brown and Fleming have been cast as brothers in the show.
Known to Halifax audiences as both a performer and producer, Brown is fresh off the success of his acclaimed productions of Stan Rogers: A Matter of Heart, The Songs of The Rat Pack, and A Rat Pack Christmas with Heather Rankin. For the past 7 years, Brown has been at the helm of The Advent Show - Halifax’s annual Christmas musical revue that showcases and mentors young emerging performers while supporting charities who work with the homeless.
Brown flew to Toronto in February from his home in Dartmouth to meet the show’s casting director after initially submitting a video audition online in January.
“It was one of the most intense audition processes I’ve ever gone through. It’s a big sing.”, says the 26-year-old at a press conference today in Toronto.
“They definitely wanted to test my stamina. They kept giving me more scenes from the show, and I think I sang I Want To Know What Love Is for them six times.”, Brown jokes, referencing the rock ballad that helped catapult Foreigner to global super-stardom in 1984.
In Toronto, Brown had three consecutive callback auditions in less than 24 hours, for a panel consisting of the show’s creative team and producers, along with Foreigner’s lead guitarist and songwriter Mick Jones. Brown says he wasn’t intimidated.
“Everyone was so laid back and friendly. We all really seemed to click; it makes me even more excited to work with them this summer.”
Jones says he’s proud that these songs will be re-interpreted for the stage. “I’m honored by the team that is helping bring this music to life.”
Prior to the casting process, Jones said he wanted to make sure the performers in the show would be able to handle the range in some of the songs.
"I will probably be part of that decision to make sure (they've) got the lungs to carry it off because they are demanding songs," he said.
"Even Frank Sinatra tried Waiting For A Girl Like You and there's a three-octave range in there."
Performances of Jukebox Hero are scheduled for August 10–12, 2018, at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton August 16–19, 2018, and the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto in February 2019.
EXCLUSIVE: Geordie Brown talks "JUKEBOX HERO" at Global Halifax.
Geordie Brown will be originating the starring role of 'Ryan Perry' in the world premiere production of Foreigner's JUKEBOX HERO Musical. The Nova Scotian actor/singer talks with Global's Paul Brothers about the show's plans for Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and beyond.
Geordie performs Foreigner's "I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS" with castmates Laura Tremblay, Cleopatra Williams, & Graham Scott Fleming, with musical director Mark Camilleri at a press conference in Toronto.
March 22, 2018.
The Calgary Herald
Listen to Geordie perform Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time", live and acoustic.