Memphis the Musical starts previews at the Shaftsbury Theatre in the West End this month (October 2014). I suggested it might be one of the best new musicals for theatre breaks coming up this month, a few days ago. Today I’m going to look at it in a bit more depth.
Memphis the Musical – where does it come from?
The show has a good pedigree, it was a Broadway hit and ran there for three years. In 2010 it won 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was originally written and had workshop performances back in 2003/4.
Memphis The Musical had some glowing notices during its Broadway run including this from The Associated Press:
“The exhilarating new musical shaking the Shubert Theatre is the very essence of what a Broadway musical should be.”
It was written by David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (lyrics and book). If David Bryan’s name seems familiar, he is the keyboard player of none other than rock legends, Bon Jovi. He’s written another musical as well (The Toxic Avenger), and is currently working on yet another one about life in the Brill Building, New York’s early 60s song factory.
Memphis the Musical – The Cast
Leading lady Beverley Knight was last seen in the West End last year in lead role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard. She got a great soul voice and a good track record.
Leading man will be played by Killian Donnelly, who until recently was playing Deco in The Commitments. Donnelly has also played Tony in Billy Elliot and several roles in Les Miserables.
The rest of the cast look strong too, and well able to give the show the power it will need.
Memphis the Musical – what’s the music like?
A high energy score
As you can see from the following video the musical has a really high energy score. Although all the music is original it has a strong 1950s flavour.
Memphis the Musical – What’s The Story?
Two second plot summary – White DJ meets and falls for black music, and a black girl singer, in the deep south of the 1950s. But it is nowhere near that simple!
Set in Tennessee, in the American south of the 1950s Memphis is the story of Huey Calhoun, a white, radio DJ who starts to listen to and play ‘black’ music on his radio show. (Huey’s story is loosely based in part on the true story of Dewey Phillips)
Huey champions the music, plays it on his ‘white’ radio station and his audience begins to appreciate the quality of this ignored music. The trouble really starts though, when Huey falls in love with Felicia, a beautiful black singer whose musical career he has been instrumental in promoting.
The plot twists and turns, with lots of emotions, laughter and tears. It is not at all as simple as ‘boy meets girl’, and all the better for that!
Memphis the Musical will be a good choice for a theatre break, I think. The West End theatre break audience took The Bodyguard to its heart and may well do the same with Memphis the Musical. Like all the best Broadway musicals the the show takes you on a big emotion filled journey.
Check our Readers Offers site for details of Memphis the Musical Theatre Breaks.