MEMPHIS was absolutely fantastic and completely deserving of its 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical. The show also won Tony's for Best Book, Best Score, and Best Orchestration. Female Lead Montego Glover has won Best Actress from the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Chad Kimball was also nominated for Best Actor Tony.
Here's a clip from the Tony Awards show as the stars and cast sing the final number from the show. I get tears just watching it. In a good way. My heart just soars!
I was originally turned on to musical theater when I saw a performance of A Chorus Line at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady in the late 70's. I think this show could be a similar catalyst that inspires a whole new generation of theater lovers.
It's the type of show that I kept thinking about buying the music as they were singing. I wanted to get tickets for the next day's performance when it was over. I could watch it a million times. Like I have with A Chorus Line; five times on stage in different cities and countless viewings of the movie.
Chad Kimball plays Huey Calhoun, a man going nowhere, but stumbles upon a special direction in life when his path crosses with Felicia, played by Montego Glover. Inspired by actual events, MEMPHIS takes us from the underground black dance clubs of 1950s Memphis to a national television audience.
Not only does Huey make Felicia a star but he falls in love and proposes marriage. We're taken back in time when black and white people didn't mix in public let alone fall in love. Their taboo romance adds depth and context to the show. Reminding everyone of how things used to be allows the show to be an educational work without the preaching or classroom. This white dude from upstate NY learned a lot.
Montego Glover is flawless. A beauty that mesmerizes us with her stage presence and talent.
Chad Kimball was a bit harder for me to get my head around. His character's accent and speaking cadence reminded me of a mixture of President George W. Bush, Forrest Gump, and Christian Slater. His facial expressions were also like Bush with small squinting eyes. Despite all that, I found him sexy as hell!
I highly recommend the show for an uplifting night in the city. Weekend ticket prices range from $41.50 to $131.50. I paid $90 at TKTS for third row orchestra, the furthest seat on the right, at a Friday evening performance. Most action takes place center stage but there were a couple of times when the stage setting included bar tables set up at the curtain's edges. That further hindered the view from the seats in those area.
Here they are winning the Tony. They conclude with an encore of the final number. Imagine leaving the theater singing, dancing, and clapping along with the cast. Incredible!
MEMPHIS is playing at the Shubert Theatre, one of New York's most enduring theaters, on 44th between 7th and 8th Avenues. The theater seats nearly 1,500 patrons in a rather intimate arrangement. All seats are pretty close to the stage with minimal sight line issues only for those in seats on the far left and right aisles. It is nice and clean with easy and quick access. The famous Sardi's restaurant is across the street.