Change Don’t Come Easy; Memphis to Close on Broadway

Say a Prayer for Broadway’s latest show to discover a closing notice being posted. It seems as though this Summer heat is killing off Broadway shows like flies these days shows announcing closings left and right. And it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop yet. Another musical has joined the group and despite while it may not be a religious musical like all the others, the announcement still comes sadly. Today, Luner on Theatre is bringing you the news of Memphis closing on Broadway.

Memphis is a musical is by David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (lyrics and book). The story, based off the true life story of Dewey Phillips, follows the story of Hue Calhoun – a white DJ being one of the first to play black music on the radio. The story follows him as he works his way up from being the underdog to become a face of the music scene not only in Memphis but in a changing nation. He easily is won over by Felicia Farrell, an African American singer who he meets at Delray’s Bar. However, falling in love with someone of the opposite race isn’t always the easiest thing in racially segregated Memphis in the 1950′s. Their story not only takes us on the adventure of love but how music can change all of us in the most important place – our heart.

Producers made the announcement yesterday that the hit Broadway musical would close come August 5th, 2012. Memphis now joins another list of shows that just can’t seem to beat out this summer heat and are bailing on Broadway. However, Memphis has had a very successful run which deserves to be recognized. Memphis began previews on September 23rd, 2009 and officially opened October 19th, 2009 at The Shubert Theatre. The musical has since played to date at that theatre and by the time it closes will have played a total of 30 previews and 1,166 performances. It is one of the top 100 longest running Broadway shows of all time.

Memphis opened in a very rare looking and not too bright theatre season (2009-2010) on Broadway. Before Broadway, the musical played the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle in two pre-Broadway tryouts. The musical was nominated for 8 Tony Awards but only went on to win four of those Tony Awards. However, it did manage to win the “Triple Crown” of theatre scoring the Tony Award for Best Book, Best Original  Score and Best Musical for 2010.  Memphis also received a positive buzz all around from theatre critics. Elisabeth Vincentelli of The New York Post said the following;

“An exuberant musical with classic values: catchy songs, heaping spoonfuls of inspirational moments, and gifted performers at the top of their game.”                 – The New York Post

Memphis has also scored big time across the board for the New York Theatre scene and audiences nation wide. Just last October, Memphis launched their first National Tour which is currently playing nationwide in various locations through May of 2013.

Memphis’ original male lead, Chad Kimball, took a permanent leave earlier this year after taking on vocal damage. After that, RENT star Adam Pascal stepped into the role where he plays opposite original female lead,  Tony nominee Montego Glover. The current cast of Memphis also includes many still form the original cast. The current cast includes Derrick Baskin (Gator), J. Bernard Calloway (Delray), James Monroe Iglehart (Bobby), John Jellison (Mr. Simmons), Tony nomineeNancy Opel (Mama), as well as Darius Barnes, Carmen Shavone Borders, Angela C. Brydon, Sam J. Cahn , Erica Dorfler, Preston W. Dugger III, Sasha Hutchings, Lauren Lim Jackson, Tyrone Jackson, Elizabeth Ward Land, Bryan Langlitz, Kevin Massey , Candice Monet McCall,David McDonald, Monette McKay, Andy Mills, Justin Patterson, Jermaine R. Rembert, Ken Robinson, Jamison Scott,  Antoine L. Smith, Betsy Struxness, Cody Williams and Dan’yelle Williamson.

Memphis deserves much praise for their long run on Broadway. They have been involved in various programs, opportunities and events that have helped others or various arts organizations. It is evident that there is no shortage of love in or for Memphis. Producer Sue Frost released the following statement yesterday when announcing the closing;

“The level of love and commitment exhibited by all the members of our company from La Jolla to Seattle to Broadway has been matched only by the enthusiasm of our magnificently ardent fans. For us, this kind of reciprocity represents the heart of live theatre. On behalf of the entire producing team, management team, creative team, the cast, crew, staff of the Shubert Theatre, and all who have helped Memphis to make its mark on Broadway, we say thank you.”

Memphis is currently touring the United States on their National Tour and planning a West End opening coming soon. Memphis is not over for the theatre community or the world. Make sure you get a chance to check out this fantastic story filled with love, music and definitely not short of soul. Luner on Theatre will be sure to bring you any future news regarding the musical Memphis. For more information, check out Memphis on Broadway’s Official Website. And of course check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and more!

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