The backdrop for the story is 1950s Memphis, Tennessee where segregation is still a very real every-day issue with a strong line drawn between black and white. Enter Huey, a white man with only a 9th-grade education but a love and appreciation for the rock and roll music of the underground black clubs and a penchant for creating his own words and off-the-wall sponsorship plugs as a radio DJ who plays black music on a white station and the journey begins. The plot explores the racially-charged issues of the day and shows how music has a way of bringing people of different races together.
This show, which won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Show, was high energy from the very beginning with incredible voices, talented and funny actors, and fast-moving, high-flying dance scenes. There was not a weak link in the cast and every one from the lead performers to the ensemble and swing groups contributed to the success of the show.
Bryan Fenkart as Huey was a perfect fit. He has a great balance of comedic timing, strong singing voice, and dance skills to successfully lead the show with pizzaz and humor. Felicia Boswell as Felicia, an undiscovered black singer longing for her big break, has incredible pipes and kept the crowd clamoring their approval on several numbers as she just kept going for more and more as she knocked out several big songs. Quentin Earl Darrington is another incredibly talented performer with a booming voice in the role of Delray, a club owner/music producer and Felicia's brother. Will Mann (Bobby), Rhett George (Gator), and William Parry (Mr. Simmons) are also exceptional in their roles, while Julie Johnson steals the show from time to time as Huey's doting mother, who can sing even better than she can keep you in stitches with her lines and dance moves. Seriously, the entire cast is incredible and I could go on and on writing things about all of them.
I've been to several musicals like Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages where the crowd really responds to the songs because they are so familiar with them. While I had never heard any of the Memphis songs before, I felt like the crowd really embraced each number and the whole theatre was just waiting to explode as we all had a great time. I've been humming the songs ever since and I can definitely say that now "Memphis Lives in Me".
If you want to enjoy a night out without the kids and watch some incredibly talented performers execute a well-written script and belt out some great songs, then Memphis is the show for you. But, don't waste any time as it will only be at the Ohio Theatre through June 3. For complete ticket information, visit the CAPA website.