BY MARIVIR R. MONTEBON
Two things about the musicale Memphis: its cast will put you in awe with their electrifying singing and dancing the wonderful R and B and Rock and Roll that was the 1950s and you will have sketchy memories of it, because of its achy predictable plot of a failed interracial relationship.
Three years since its premier showing in October 2009, Memphis nevertheless continues to attract a steady stream of audience at the Shubert Theater. All spectators say they are absolutely all hats off for the cast, led by Adam Pascal who plays Huey Calhoun, an incredibly hilarious disc jockey who may well be a personification of Dewey Phillips, the Memphis DJ who was first to spin a record by Elvis Presley.
In the story, Calhoun falls in love with Felicia (Montego Glover), a black singer whom he wanted to promote in his radio show.
Glover’s singing performance is unmistakably pulled off for the entire cast, and the humor of James Monroe Iglehart as Bobby makes Memphis a must watch musicals on Broadway.
Memphis is sure to evoke from its audience roaring laughter and renders them wide eyed in every choreography and chord belted out by the performers.
It won Best Musical in the Live Theatre division of the Golden Icon Awards as well as the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, the songs “The Music of My Soul,” “Everybody wants to be black on a Saturday night,” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “Love Will Stand When All Else Falls,” “Stand Up,” “Change Don’t Come Easy,” “Tear Down the House,” “Love Will Stand/Ain’t Nothin’ But a Kiss (Reprise,)” “Memphis Lives in Me,” and “Steal Your Rock and Roll” were all masterfully performed by the artists.
But for some reason, as what a theater critic had said, the musical lacked an authentic soul. Indeed, the genre sounds too predominantly pop and quite indistinctive from all the other shows with similar themes.
Crew: Book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro; music and lyrics by David Bryan; based on a concept by George W. George; directed by Christopher Ashley; choreography by Sergio Trujillo; music producer and supervisor, Christopher Jahnke; sets by David Gallo; costumes by Paul Tazewell; lighting by Howell Binkley; sound by Ken Travis; projection design by Mr. Gallo and Shawn Sagady; hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe.
Cast: Adam Pascal as Huey Calhoun, Montego Glover as Felicia Farrell, Derrick Baskin as Gator, J. Bernard Calloway as Delray, James Monroe Iglehart as Bobby, John Jellison as Mr. Simmons and Nancy Opel as Mama.
Venue: Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 239-6200. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.