Memphis is a musical written by Joe DiPietro (an American playwright, helped create I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and David Bryan (keyboardist for Bon Jovi) from a concept by George WGeorge and follows the story of radio DJ, Huey Calgoun. The West End production is directed by Chrisopher Ashley and is playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Memphis is a very clever show as it is very funny and has brilliant music but also touches some serious issues such as segregation and discrimination. The show is thought to loosely follow the story of Dewey Phillips, the first white DJ to play black music. The featured music is all original to the show and all fantastically written with a beat which sets your toes to tapping.
Beverley Knight has been coined as being the British Queen of Soul and made her West End debut in The Bodyguard. She has an outstanding voice which is perfectly matched to the role of Felicia. Her performance of ‘Coloured Women’ brought me to tears.
Matt Cardle is a household name from having won the X Factor in 2010. He makes his acting and West End debut in Memphis. His Huey is brilliant, wonderfully goofy and loveable. Huey’s defining moment in the show is ‘Memphis Lives in Me’ which was amazingly performed by Cardle.
Rolan Bell (We Will Rock You, An Evening of Soul Food, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) plays Felicia’s protective brother, Delray, owner of a club in downtown Memphis. Bell has a truly lovely voice and he excels with the number ‘She’s my Sister’.
Jason Pennycooke (Kiss me Kate, La Cage Aux Follies, Rent, Soul Train) plays Bobby, a janitor in the radio office where Huey works. His vocal and dancing ability are displayed ever well in the show.
To sum up, an outstanding show – a must-see. Memphis is closing 31st October and will then embark on a UK tour. Be sure to catch it somewhere – you don’t want to miss this one. Hockadoo!