A regional theatre premiere at Arkansas Rep, Memphis is a new musical with music and lyrics by David Bryan of Bon Jovi fame and lyrics and book by Joe DiPietro loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.
Appearing on Broadway from October 19, 2009 to August 5, 2012, Memphis garnered eight 2010 Tony Award nominations, and won four 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Musical.
Set in the 1950s in the musically-rich Tennessee city, Memphis tells the story of a local DJ with a passion for R&B music and an up-and-coming singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. As their careers rise, their relationship is challenged by personal ambition and the pressures and prejudice of the outside world.
From the first notes of its opening number “Underground” right up to a rousing finale called “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Memphis delivers one energetic song after the next, with electrifying singing and dancing along the way.
The production is directed and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato. Other members of the creative team include Mark Binns (music director), Mike Nichols (scenic designer), Rafael Colon Castanera and Mark Nagle (costume designers), Bill Webb (lighting designer), Allan Branson (sound designer), Lynda J. Kwallek (properties designer) and Rob Pickens (wig designer).
The cast is led by Brent DiRoma and Jasmin Richardson. Others in the cast include Ann-Ngaire Martin, Bill Newhall, Tony Perry, Arthur L. Ross and Gregory L. Williams. The cast also includes Katie Emerson, Ryan Farnsworth, Maris Kirby, Daniel McDonald, J. Nycole Ralph, Courtney Blackmun, Michele May Clark, Tatiana H. Green, DeCarl Jones, Chris McNiff, Gregory Omar Osborne, Shuan Repetto, James Roberts, Kyron Turner and Laura Leigh Turner.
Performances are at 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, 8pm on Friday and Saturday evenings and matinees on Sunday at 2pm. The production runs through Sunday, September 28.