Al Roker Makes a Surprise Appearance in Broadway's “Back to the Future” Musical: ‘A Dream Come True’

The 'Today' show weatherman wowed a Broadway audience in the hit musical adaptation of the beloved 1985 film

<p>Junghun Park/NBC</p> Al Roker and Casey Likes in

Junghun Park/NBC

Al Roker and Casey Likes in 'Back to the Future: The Musical'

Al Roker took a break from his weatherman duties on Thursday night to try on another job: Broadway star.

The longtime Today personality made a cameo in Back to the Future: The Musical, the blockbuster stage musical adaptation of the beloved 1985 film now playing at New York City's famed Winter Garden Theatre.

It was a surprise treat for the sold-out crowd, and a one-night-only opportunity for Roker.

In the show, he played Principal Strickland, the role made famous by James Tolkan on screen. Fans of the film will remember the character as the one who tells Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly, "You're a slacker, McFly!"

Related: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, More 'Back to the Future' Stars Reunite at Gala for Broadway Musical

Roker, 69, embodied the role — so much so that he joked about his likeness to the character in a special handout added to patrons' Playbills.“Of course I was drawn to Principal Strickland," wrote Roker. "He’s obnoxious, he’s bald and he’s a loudmouth. Always play to your strengths."

The Today show cameras followed Roker throughout the process, taking viewers behind the scenes as he prepared for the role. The segment will air in full next week.

A preview of it played Friday, though, as Roker thanked the Back to the Future: The Musical team for all their support. "The cast and crew were so lovely and they treated me just so nicely," Roker told Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin.

He went on to praise actor Roger Bart, a stage veteran and Tony Award winner who plays Doc Brown (a.k.a. Christopher Lloyd's part). "He is Broadway royalty," said Roker. "To be able to share a scene with Robert Bart was a dream come true."

Asked if he gets nervous on stage, Roker said "always" — noting that nerves aren't new for him. "I get nervous here. There it's worse!" he said.

But it was all worth it for Roker, who ended the conversation by urging Today viewers to "Go see Back to the Future: The Musical. It is a hoot."

Related: Lea Thompson Celebrated 'Back to the Future' Day With Several Snaps of Castmates Over the Years

This isn't the first time Roker has graced a Broadway stage. In both 2018 and 2019, he had mutli-week runs in Waitress, Sara Bareilles' musical adaptation of Adrienne Shelly's 2007 film of the same name.

For his Back to the Future: The Musical cameo, Roker was cheered on his wife, Deborah Roberts, who praised her husband's performance on social media with a loving Instagram post packed with pictures from his big night.

"Just pure joy watching [Al Roker] shine yet again on the #broadway stage, this time as principal Strickland in Back to the Future, one of his fave movies," the 63-year-old journalist wrote. "Do I hear the Tony Awards committee calling? Ha! Congrats dear Al!."

Roker's 3rd Hour of Today co-hosts Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones were there as well, and also showed their support with loving Instagram posts.

"What a show!!!' wrote Dreyer, 42. "[Back to the Future: The Musical] was absolutely incredibly fun!!! And [Al Roker] making an appearance was icing on the cake!! See this show!!"

"Hitting Broadway to support our friend Al Roker," Jones, 45, wrote on her Instagram Story, over a photo of her, Dreyer, Roberts and Today producer Deborah Cohen Kosofsky in the audience. "So so good!!" Jones captioned video of Roker during curtain call.

Dreyer and Jones discussed Roker's performance during the 3rd Hour of Today Friday, too, telling him that he "stole the show" and that "the crowd was going wild" when he first came out.

"I only had like, five lines," Roker humbly told them, explaining that he had one rehearsal for blocking before his show.

Related: Ariana DeBose Returning to Host the 2024 Tony Awards for the Third Year in a Row

Back to the Future: The Musical comes from a creative team tied to the original movie, including director and co-writer Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who co-created and co-wrote the film trilogy and also wrote the musical's book.

Alan Silvestri, who composed the movie's score, collaborates on the stage show's music and lyrics with Grammy winner Glen Ballard. The show includes the movie's iconic theme as well as "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time," two Huey Lewis tunes from the original soundtrack.

The musical, directed by John Rando, opened on Broadway on Aug 2, 2023 to rave reviews. It's one of the 15 new musicals eligible for a nomination for the coveted "best musical" prize at the 2024 Tony Awards.

As far as the plot, that sticks closely to the film, according to a release: "When Marty McFly finds himself transported back to 1955 in a time machine built by the eccentric scientist Doc Brown, he accidentally changes the course of history. Now he's in a race against time to fix the present, escape the past and send himself ... back to the future."

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In addition to Bart, the stage show stars Casey Likes as Marty, Liana Hunt as Lorraine Baines, Jelani Remy as Goldie Wilson/Marvin Berry, Nathaniel Hackmann as Biff Tannen and Mikaela Secada as Jennifer Parker. Merritt David Janes typically played Principal Strickland, 

The ensemble includes Amber Ardolino, Will Branner, Victoria Byrd, Brendon Chan, Kevin Curtis, Nick Drake, Samuel Gerber, Marc Heitzman, Kimberly Immanuel, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, Hannah Kevitt, JJ Niemann, Becca Petersen, Emma Pittman, Jonalyn Saxer, Blakely Slaybaugh, Gabi Stapula, and Daryl Tofa. Rounding out the company as swings are Samuel Gerber, Kimberly Immanuel, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, Blakely Slaybaugh, and Gabi Stapula.

Tickets for Back to the Future: The Musical are on sale now.

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