The 1950's-set musical traces an interracial love affair between a white DJ and a young black singer on the rise, set against the divisive world of the segregated South and the tumultuous highs and lows of the music industry. Previews began Oct. 14 at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN.
"I'm just back from the Orpheum Theatre, which happens to be where the finale of Memphis takes place, having just watched the invited dress rehearsal of Memphis," DiPietro told Playbill.com. "So the cast was just on the stage of the Orpheum Theatre pretending to be on the stage of the Orpheum Theatre, which is appropriate since we're only a couple of blocks from Beale Street and our show largely takes place on Beale Street. To make things even more meta, for the first time ever, we just watched a theatre full of Memphians watch a show about Memphians written by two guys from Jersey. To say the response was thrilling would be a gross understatement."
Bryan Fenkart and Felicia Boswell star in the central roles of DJ Huey and singer Felicia in the musical by Tony winners DiPietro (book and lyrics) and lyricist-composer David Bryan (of Bon Jovi fame). Christopher Ashley directs the production that has choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Next to Normal, Jersey Boys).
Fenkart and Boswell headline the tour after covering the leading roles in the Broadway production, which opened Oct. 19, 2009, at the Shubert Theatre, where it continues its run.
Memphis earned Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical. Original stars Chad Kimball and Montego Glover earned Tony Award nominations for their performances. The principal cast for the tour also includes Quentin Earl Darrington (Ragtime) as Delray, Rhett George (Sweet Charity) as Gator, Drama Desk nominee Julie Johnson (Candide) as Mama, Broadway veteran William Parry (Sunday in the Park With George, Passion) as Mr. Simmons and Will Mann, who recently appeared in the Broadway cast of Memphis, repeating his work as Bobby.
The ensemble features include Chelsey Arce, Evan Autio, Bree Branker, Whitney Brown, Whitney Cooper, Scott Difford, Christopher Gurr, Daisy Hobbs, Crystal Joy, Kyle Leland, Jarvis McKinley, Happy McPartlin, Kenna Michelle Morris, Jill Morrison, Austin Owen, Kent Overshown, Alfie Parker Jr., Justin Prescott, Jody Reynard, Peter Matthew Smith and Derek St. Pierre.
The itinerary for Memphis follows:
Memphis, TN (Oct. 14-23 at the Orpheum Theatre)
Houston, TX (Oct. 25-30)
Tulsa, OK (Nov. 1-6)
Oklahoma City, OK (Nov. 8-13)
Nashville, TN (Nov. 15-20)
Chicago, IL (Nov. 22-Dec. 4)
Toronto, ON (Dec. 6-25)
Pittsburgh, PA (Dec. 27-Jan. 1, 2012)
Charlotte, NC (Jan. 3-8, 2012)
Hartford, CT (Jan. 10-15, 2012)
Philadelphia, PA (Jan. 17-22, 2012)
Durham, NC (Jan. 24-29, 2012)
Atlanta, GA (Jan. 31-Feb. 5, 2012)
Clearwater, FL (Feb. 7-12, 2012)
Naples, FL (Feb. 14-19, 2012)
Greenville, SC (Feb. 21-26, 2012)
Cleveland, OH (Feb. 28-March 11, 2012)
St. Paul, MN (March 13-25, 2012)
East Lansing, MI (March 27-April 1, 2012)
Baltimore, MD (April 3-8, 2012)
Hershey, PA (April 10-15, 2012)
Schenectady, NY (April 17-22, 2012)
Des Moines, IA (April 24-29, 2012)
St. Louis, MO (May 1-13, 2012)
Dallas, TX (May 15-27, 2012)
Columbus, OH (May 29-June 3, 2012)
Buffalo, NY (June 5-10, 2012)
Washington, DC (June 12-July 1, 2012)
Las Vegas, NV (July 17-22, 2012)
San Diego, CA (July 24-29, 2012)
Los Angeles, CA (July 31-Aug. 12, 2012)
The tour is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag, and Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, with Latitude Link, Jim and Susan Blair, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Land Line Productions, Richard Winkler, Alex and Katya Lukianov, Dave Copley, Dancap Productions, Inc., 2 Guys Productions, Patty Baker, and Dan Frishwasser, in association with Eric and Marsi Gardiner, Linda and Bill Potter, Broadway Across America, Vijay and Sita Vashee, Apples and Oranges Productions, Brian and Betty Dovey, John Yonover and Ron Yonover, Loraine Boyle/Chase Mishkin, Remmel T. Dickinson/Memphis Orpheum Group, Jocko Productions/Shadowcatcher Entertainment, Scott and Kayla Union.
Songs in the production are "Underground," "The Music of My Soul," "Ain't Nothin' But a Kiss," "Everybody Wants to Be Black on a Saturday Night," "Make Me Stronger," "Colored Women," "Someday," "She's My Sister," "Radio," "Say a Prayer," "Big Love," "Love Will Stand When All Else Falls," "Stand Up," "Change Don't Come Easy," "Memphis Lives in Me" and "Steal Your Rock 'n' Roll."
Memphis was filmed live during its Broadway run and was screened in cinemas across the country earlier this year. It is also available for streaming on Netflix and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in January 2012. Copies are currently available at the Shubert Theatre in New York City and at venues hosting the national tour of Memphis.