Event: Memphis the Musical
Awards: 4 Tony Awards, 4 Drama Desk Awards
Hit Songs: The Music of My Soul, Ain’t Nothing But a Kiss
The story of Memphis the Musical is set in the 1950s, an era that saw a rapid rise in the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll music genre. It revolves around the two characters of an idealistic local radio, DJ Huey and an aspiring African-American singer Felicia. The play brings out the intensity of hardships and discrimination suffered by the two due to their romantic interracial relationship, which develops in the underground dance club of Memphis, Tennessee. The musical presents a take at the racist mindsets of the generation of the time and the impact it had on societal standards. As the couple strives to fight for their love, they are pulled back due to the nature of their ambitions and social conventions.
The first few shows of Memphis the musical were held in Beverly, at the North Shore Music Theatre, in Massachusetts and also in California’s TheatreWorks in Mountain View, during the 2003-04 seasons. The play was next presented in San Diego by the La Jolla Playhouse. It ran starting from the 19th of August until the 28th of September, 2008. It was also staged at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle during the months of January and February of 2009.
Memphis on Broadway
The Broadway previews of Memphis the Musical started at the Shubert Theatre in 2009. The director of the first production was Christopher Ashley while the choreography was done by Sergio Trujillo. The Broadway premiere cast comprised of many names from its pre-Broadway shows. Among these are Chad Kimball and Montego Glover, the two lead actors who played the characters of Huey Calhoun and Felicia Farrell respectively.
Response by Notable Publications and Critics
Memphis the musical has by large received positive reviews. Elisabeth Vincentelli of The New York Post described the play as, “An exuberant musical with classic values: catchy songs, heaping spoonfuls of inspirational moments and gifted performers at the top of their game.” John Simon of the Bloomberg News stated, “I guarantee you a rambunctious good time, highlighted by rousing music and singing, spectacular dancing and a witty, moving story.”
Musical on Tour
The musical will now be staged at a number of prominent performing art centers across the country. Theatre goers, Broadway followers and music lovers are thus in for a great treat. As the curtain is raised, the cast revisits the booming rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1950s, transporting the audience into the life and issues prevalent in the society of the time.