Memphis, a jukebox musical with all the grooves and sass a rock music lover could want, opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on October 19, 2009. Previews began on September 23, 2009, and at its closing, the production had played 30 previews and 1,166 regular performances.
Based on a concept by the late George W. George, Memphis is set in the title city during the segregated 1950's. The show takes place in the smoky, underground nightclubs where culture-clash and revolution electrified the patrons who dared to enter this tempting world. Here, a young white D.J. named "Huey Calhoun" falls in love with rock music and a one-of-a-kind African-American singer, "Felicia.".
The world premiere of Memphis the Musical was held during the 2003-2004 season and was co-produced by North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA, and TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, CA. Memphis played a limited, sold-out engagement at La Jolla Playhouse in 2008, winning San Diego’s Craig Noel Awards for Excellence in Theatre for Outstanding New Musical and for Chad Kimball as "Huey Calhoun." Following this run, Memphis played an acclaimed engagement at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in early 2009, which led to the transfer to Broadway.
Broadway Cast & Creative Team
On Opening Night, Memphis featured Chad Kimball as "Huey" and Montego Glover as "Felicia," two lovers who dared to follow their passions for love and music despite social customs. Glover was nominated for a 2010 Tony Award but lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones. At its closing, "Huey" was played by Adam Pascal of Rent and Aida fame.
The cast also featured Derrick Baskin as "Gator," J. Bernard Calloway as "Delray," James Monroe Iglehart as "Bobby," John Jellison as "Mr. Simmons," and Nancy Opel as "Mama." The company was rounded out by a stellar supporting cast including Darius Barnes, Carmen Shavone Borders, Angela C. Brydon, Sam J. Cahn , Erica Dorfler, Preston W. Dugger III, Sasha Hutchings, Lauren Lim Jackson, Tyrone Jackson, Elizabeth Ward Land, Bryan Langlitz, Kevin Massey , Candice Monet McCall, David McDonald, Monette McKay, Andy Mills, Justin Patterson, Jermaine R. Rembert, Ken Robinson, Jamison Scott, Antoine L. Smith, Betsy Struxness, Cody Williams, and Dan’yelle Williamson.
The show's music featured music and lyrics by two rock music veterans. One of Bon Jovi’s founding members and keyboardist David Bryan and Tony winner Joe DiPietro wrote the music and lyrics. DiPietro had worked on I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and was also the scribe on Memphis' Book.
The Broadway production of Memphis the Musical was directed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Ashley of Xanadu and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo who also worked on Jersey Boys and Next to Normal. The creative team for Memphis included Scenic Design by Tony Award winner David Gallo of The Drowsy Chaperone and The Mountaintop), Costume Design by Tony Award nominee Paul Tazewell of In The Heights, Lighting Design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley of How to Succeed... and Jersey Boys, with Sound Design by Ken Travis who worked on The Threepenny Opera.
Awards & Other Goodies
Memphis the Musical won four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, and Best Orchestrations. The show also won four Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Performance by an Actress for Montego Glover, Outstanding Music for David Bryan, and Outstanding Orchestration for David Bryan and Daryl Waters. The production four won awards bestowed by Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Score, Outstanding Actress for Glover, and Outstanding Choreography for Sergio Trujillo.
In 2012, a high-definition film version of the production was released in movie theatres, with a special Blu-ray, DVD, and digital downloads available as well. With this film, Memphis the Musical became the first Best Musical Tony Award winner to be filmed and distributed while the show was still running on Broadway. The original Broadway cast album features the original cast singing 19 of the musical numbers from the show as well as a bonus track/acoustic version of "The Music of My Soul."
Memphis was produced on Broadway by Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag and Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff with Latitude Link, Jim and Susan Blair, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Land Line Productions, Apples and Oranges Productions, Dave Copley, Dancap Productions, Inc., Alex and Katya Lukianov, Tony Ponturo, 2 Guys Productions, and Richard Winkler in association with Lauren Doll, Eric and Marsi Gardiner, Linda and Bill Potter, Broadway Across America, Jocko Productions, Patty Baker, Dan Frishwasser, Bob Bartner/Scott and Kaylin Union, Loraine Boyle/Chase Mishkin, Remmel T. Dickinson/Memphis Orpheum Group and ShadowCatcher Entertainment/Vijay and Sita Vashee.