To quote David Bryan, the composer of Memphis there are two types of entertainment, “entertainment that exists for its own sake and entertainment that has social relevance”. Memphis falls into the latter category following in the footsteps of musicals such as West Side Story, Rent, Oliver, and last year’s Van Wezel blockbuster Les Miserables. Musicals that follow the old adage “never underestimate the impact that you can have on someone’s life,” and that year after year reestablish that impact on the lives of new generations of theater goers.
Memphis takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50’s, where a young white DJ falls in love with everything he shouldn’t…. rock ‘n’ roll, “black music” and an electrifying female black singer. The story is based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first DJ’s to play “black music,” which he calls “the music of my soul”. Memphis is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and music changed forever. The New York Times, in reviewing the music of David Bryan, states that “he evokes the powerhouse funk of James Brown, the hot guitar riffs of Chuck Berry, the smooth harmonies of the Temptations, and the silky, bouncy pop of the great girl groups of the period”.
The concept for Memphis was developed in 2003, and was first staged in theaters in Beverly, Massachusetts and Mountain View, California during their 2003 and 2004 seasons, and was staged at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego for a 5 week run in 2008. It previewed at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, from January 27 through February 15, 2009. Memphis began is Broadway run on September 23, 2009 with 30 previews and proceeded to run for 1,165 regular performances. (The Broadway production was filmed for the first time during a regularly scheduled performance for high definition exhibition in digital cinemas by Broadway Worldwide. The show was filmed utilizing multiple high definition cameras and 96 tracks of sound recording).
Critics’ response to Memphis was beyond anything generated on Broadway in years! WOR Radio, the flagship station in Memphis, called Memphis “The biggest hit on Broadway,” The New York Post raved “Of such thrills, Broadway is made!” Newsday called the show: “A smash! An extraordinary show,” the New York Daily News promised that “Memphis will blast you out the door humming and happy.” The Associated Press said that “Memphis is the very essence of what a Broadway musical should be.”
To back up the ecstatic critical reviews, Memphis went on to light up its three year run at the Shubert Theatre by winning these accolades: TONY AWARDS: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Orchestration DRAMA DESK: Best Musical, Best Actress, Best Music, Best Orchestration OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE: Best Musical, Best Actress, Best Score, Best Orchestration Memphis was the most Award Winning Show of the 2009-2010 season!
………it will ”ROCK THE VANWEZEL!”
Supscription tickets for Memphis are available now through the Box Office at 941-953-3368. Single Tickets will be available on Sept. 7 @ 10am