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Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical, Memphis

Updated on January 21, 2013

The Tony Award winning best musical Memphis is a story of forbidden love, social change, and the power of music. Memphis sees the dawn of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s, when racial tensions are high and segregation was the norm, but when white radio disc jockey Huey Calhoun falls for talented black singer Felicia Farrell, he swears he'll get her song on the radio and launch her singing career.

Featuring music by David Bryan, a book by Joe DiPietro, and lyrics by both, Memphis received eight Tony nominations and four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The video below is the trailer for Memphis's original Broadway run.

The Story

Huey Calhoun, an ambitious record salesman, dreams of one day making it as a radio disc jockey in 1950s Memphis. One night, he wanders into Delray's, an underground African-American rock 'n' roll nightclub. Huey is white and not immediately welcomed, but after professing his deep love of rock 'n' roll, he hits it off with Delray's sister, the lovely and talented Felicia Farrell.

Huey eventually lucks his way into a DJing position with a local radio station. He refuses to play by any rules, playing African-American rock 'n' roll songs on a tradtionally Caucasian station. His boss is at first incensed, but after Huey's show becomes a hit with the teenagers of Memphis, agrees to keep him onboard. Huey even develops a catchphrase, shouting "Hockado!" His show quickly becomes the most popular in its timeslot.

Meanwhile, Huey promises he'll play Felicia's song on his show. A relationship builds between them, despite the disapproval of both Huey's mother and Felicia's brother Delray. In spite of their families and the racial tension in the city, Huey and Felicia slowly fall in love.

But as Huey and Felicia's stars rise, so too do the problems they face. Memphis is a story of love, dreams, and the power of rock 'n' roll.

The Shubert Theater, New York, NY
The Shubert Theater, New York, NY | Source

The Broadway Production

Before moving to Broadway, Memphis was performed at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Massachussettes and at TheatreWorks in Mountain View, California. After a few other performances on the West Coast, Memphis began its Broadway run in previews on September 23rd, 2009 and officially opened on October 19th.

Starring Chad Kimball as Huey Calhoun and Montego Glover as Felicia Farrell, Memphis had its Broadway run in the historic Shubert Theatre.

The show closed on August 5, 2012 after 1,166 regular performances

The Music

Act I

  • Underground -- Delray, Felicia, and Company
  • The Music of My Soul -- Huey, Felicia, and Company
  • Scratch My Itch -- Wailin' Joe and Company
  • Ain't Nothin' But a Kiss -- Felicia and Huey
  • Everybody Wants to Be Black on a Saturday Night -- Company
  • Make Me Stronger --, Huey, Mama Felicia, and Company
  • Colored Woman -- Felicia
  • Someday --, Felica and Company
  • She's My Sister --, Delray and Huey
  • Radio --, Huey and Company
  • Say A Prayer --, Gator and Company

Act II

  • Crazy Little Huey --, Huey and Company
  • Big Love -- Bobby
  • Love Will Stand When All Else Fails -- Felicia and Company
  • Stand Up -- Delray, Felicia, Huey, Gator, Bobby, and Company
  • Change Don't Come Easy -- Mama, Delray, Gator, and Bobby
  • Tear the House Down -- Huey and Company
  • Love Will Stand / Ain't Nothin' But A Kiss (Reprise) -- Felicia and Huey
  • Memphis Lives in Me -- Huey and Company
  • Steal Your Rock 'n' Roll -- Huey, Felicia, and Company

Memphis Lives In Me

The Accolades

At the 2010 Tony Awards, Memphis was awarded Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, and Best Orchestrations. It beat out American Idiot, Fela! and Million Dollar Quartet for the top prize. In addition to the big wins for the show, Chad Kimball was nominated for Best Actor, Montego Glover for Best Actress, Christopher Ashley for Best Director of a Musical, and Paul Tazewell for Best Costume Design.

Memphis also won several Drama Desk Awards, includingOustanding Musical, Oustanding Actress in a Musical for Montego Glover, Oustanding Music, and Oustanding Orchestrations.

How To See Memphis

Memphis has ended its Broadway run, but there are still several ways you can see this great production.

  • The National Tour may be coming soon to a city near you. For more information, check this website: http://memphisthemusical.com/
  • A recording of the Broadway show with its original cast and staging is available on Amazon and on Netflix Instant.
  • As of this publication, amateur rights are not yet available for local theaters; however, they will likely be released within the next few years.

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