On a cold windy winter’s night the 2010 Tony Award®-Winner For Best Musical and most awards in the 2009-2010 Broadway season MEMPHIS a Dancap Production Shimmied and Shook its way to its opening night last night. Raising the roof of the Toronto Centre for the Arts. MEMPHIS will play until December 24th.
This phenomenal musical comes to us from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee. MEMPHIS has everything you could ever want in a musical, explosive dancing, irresistible songs, humor and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. If there is only one show you can go to make it this one. It is an incredible show, a must see.
MEMPHIS directed by the Tony Award®-Nominee Christopher Ashley, tells the story of a young white radio DJ Huey Calhoun who wants to change the world, and a black club singer Felicia Farrell who is ready for her big break. This is a fabulous story of the rise in popularity of Rock and Roll and tender love story in a time when inter-race relationships were not tolerated in the Southern United States.
Bryan Fenkart is brilliant as, Huey Calhoun, who is mostly a product of the mind of Tony Award®-Winner Joe DiPietro. But the similarities to the legendary Memphis radio disc jockey Dewey Phillips (who was the 1st DJ to broadcast Elvis Presley) cannot be missed. Calhoun is a simple young southern white boy, an outsider, a hillbilly, who discovers himself when he takes over as a DJ on a local Memphis radio station and promotes what at that time was called “race music”, early Rock and Roll. Calhoun’s DJ style is as a speed-crazed hillbilly, with a frantic delivery, keen sense of humor and a great ear for the music that the young people of Memphis both black and white are craving to hear. His popularity grows and his #1 radio show takes on a new life as a TV show, “Huey Calhoun’s Cavalcade” where he continues to successfully promote Rock and Roll in Memphis.
Set in a backdrop of racism and bigotry Huey secretly falls in love with a colored girl Felicia Farrell beautifully played by Felicia Boswell, and when she leaves for New York and fame, he makes the more complicated decision to stay with his first love, the city of Memphis. Huey’s rise to fame is meteoric as is his fall.
There are so many memorable moments. The electricity between Bryan Fenkart and Felicia Boswell is visible for all to see. The fantastic dancing so expertly choreographed by the incomparable Sergio Trujillo. The fabulous songs of Bon Jovi founding member and Tony Award®-Winner David Bryan are wonderfully performed by the whole company. My personal favorites “Colored Woman” by Felicia Boswell as Felicia Farrell, “Big Love” by Will Mann as Bobby, “Change Don’t Come Easy” by Julie Johnston as Mama, Quentin Earl Darrington as Delray and Will Mann as Bobby and last but not least “Memphis Lives in Me” by Bryan Fenkart as Huey Calhoun.