Back to the Future: The Musical

July 9-21 | Belk Theater

‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads’ - Back to the Future flies into the Belk July 9 – 21

July 2, 2024 / Blog
By Page Leggett

While Matt Doebler was music director for the Tony Award-winning Jagged Little Pill musical tour, he got wind of an upcoming tour – one that lands at the Belk Theater July 9. He contacted the Back to the Future team to say he’d be willing to “fetch coffee” if he could just be involved.

The team didn’t want Doebler going on coffee runs; they wanted him to be the tour’s musical director. It’s a role he enjoys; he toured with Jagged for two years and also served as assistant musical director and accordion-meister for Broadway’s Great Comet of 1812.


These days, he doesn’t have much time for coffee breaks. Doebler conducts seven of the eight shows performed each week. Plus, he trains new cast members, rehearses with the local musicians who join the crew in each new city, ensures the integrity of the music night after night and plays the piano while conducting the other musicians.

“Most nights, I wish I had a third hand,” he quipped.

From screen to stage

Audience members may wish they had more hands to applaud emphatically. People are loving the music, familiar storyline and technical wizardry. Lots of people are on their feet every night, Doebler reports.

Since opening in London’s West End in September 2021, more than 800,000 people have seen the Olivier Award-winning “Best New Musical,” which opened on Broadway last August.

But first, it was a film and a pop culture phenomenon. Still, Doebler insists, “This is not just the movie on stage.”

“If you’re a big fan of the movie, you’ll definitely be rewarded. But there’s so much more to it. You don’t need to have seen the movie to follow and enjoy the musical.”

But you probably have. The 1985 film grossed $360.6 million at the box office. The three-film franchise grossed over $936.6 million – over $1.8 billion in today’s dollars.

If you were amazed by a flying car in the movie, wait’ll you see what Chris Fisher, the musical’s “illusion director,” has in store. Doebler won’t spoil the surprise; all he’ll say about the DeLorean-turned-time-machine is that “it makes a very theatrical entrance.”

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(Pictured (L-R): Don Stephenson (Doc Brown) and Caden Brauch (Marty McFly). Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman, 2024)

“This show is an experience,” he continued. “You could compare it to an amusement park ride.” While the technical elements are worthy of their own standing ovation, the show is “not just flash; there’s real substance to it.”

That’s, in part, due to the enduring odd-couple friendship between musically inclined high school misfit Marty McFly and Hill Valley, California’s kindly mad scientist, Dr. Emmett Brown. 

The plot will be familiar to anyone who’s seen the movie. Marty (played by Michael J. Fox in the film) is transported – accidentally – to 1955 in the time machine “Doc” (Christopher Lloyd) invented.

Before the anachronistic Marty can return to 1985, he must ensure his high school-aged parents fall in love. There’s one big hurdle. Once Marty becomes part of the mix, his (future) mother only has eyes for … him.


(Pictured (L-R): Zan Berube (Lorraine Baines), Burke Swanson (George McFly), Caden Brauch (Marty McFly) and the Company of Back to the Future: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman, 2024)

If his (would-be) parents don’t feel an attraction to each other – and isn’t this always a problem with time travel to the past? – then Marty’s entire existence is in doubt.

Dream team

Most of film’s creative team reunited for the musical.

Bob Gale, co-creator and co-writer of the Back to the Future film trilogy, wrote the book. Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Alan Silvestri (who composed the iconic film score) and six-time Grammy Award-winning Glen Ballard wrote the music and lyrics.

The composers captured the sounds of the 1950s and 1980s. Their original songs are bolstered by a few pop hits. The era of hula hoops and poodle skirts is set to a soundtrack that includes Earth Angel and Johnny B. Goode. Huey Lewis’ The Power of Love – which he wrote just for the movie – is, like the 1980s themselves, big and exuberant.

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(Caden Brauch (Marty McFly). Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman, 2024)

Tony Award winner John Rando (Urinetown) directed. Chris Bailey, who choreographed the now-famous 2013 Tony Awards opening number Bigger with Neil Patrick Harris, choreographed this show, too.

Doebler said he, the band and the actors are having a ball each night – and so’s the audience. “This show is such a fun escape,” he said. “It’s family-friendly. And it’s pure joy.”

Back to the Future: The Musical

10% Off Groups 10+. Groups of 40+ receive one (1) complimentary ticket. Valid on select performances. 

July 9 - 21, 2024