New musical 'Rock & Roll Man' to premiere off Broadway this summer

Constantine Maroulis will star in this show about the life of Alan Freed, a disc jockey who popularized music by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and more.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

UPDATE: Joe Pantoliano, an Emmy Award winner for The Sopranos, joins the cast as nightclub owner Morris Levy and record executive Leo Mintz.

Great balls of fire! A new musical about the life and career of Alan Freed will premiere off Broadway this summer. The show, titled Rock & Roll Man, begins performances on June 2 ahead of a June 21 opening night at New World Stages.

Freed was a 20th-century disc jockey who became the first DJ to play music by Black artists on white-dominated radio stations and allowed musicians of various races to perform together for the first time in history. He also popularized dozens of now-iconic rock tunes.

Rock & Roll Man incorporates many of these songs, such as “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Yakety Yak,” “I Put A Spell On You,” and “Great Balls of Fire.” They appear alongside original music by Gary Kupper.

The show, written by Kupper, Larry Marshak, and Rose Caiola, takes place on the last day of Freed's life. Rock & Roll Man is framed as a dream in which J. Edgar Hoover and Little Richard are lawyers in a fantasy trial over the DJ's legacy. The show previously ran at Bucks Country Playhouse and the Berkshire Theatre Group.

Director Randal Myler leads a creative team that also includes choreographer Stephanie Klemons, scenic designer Timothy R. Mackabee, costume designer Leon Dobkowski, projection designer Christopher Ash, lighting designers Matthew Richards and Aja M. Jackson, sound designer Ed Chapman, musical director Dave Keyes, and music supervisors and arrangers Keyes and Kupper. Additional orchestrations and dance arrangements are by Kenny Seymour.

Constantine Maroulis, a Tony Award nominee for Rock of Ages, stars in Rock & Roll Man as Freed. Additional casting has yet to be announced.

Originally published on

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