UK queen of soul Beverley Knight is now a bonafide West End star. After dazzling on stage with her gospel enthused songs and vocals as Rachel Marron, Whitney Houston’s character in The Bodyguard musical last year there were high hopes for her next production Memphis, The Musical which she effortlessly lives up too. Memphis also stars West End fave Killian Donnelly (hot from The Commitments).
Set in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955, a poor white guy Huey Calhoun (Donnelly) walks into Delray’s, a black underground rock and roll bar, where he discovers the intoxicating rhythm and blues sound and falls head over heels for a young black singer, Felicia Farrell (Knight) – who he promises to make a star. After loosing his job in a record store for playing black music he then insinuates himself into one of Memphis’s mainstream radio stations as a DJ and substitutes R&B for the bland pop sounds they were playing. He quickly becomes the most popular DJ in the area, and the show captures the heady excitement of a moment when pop was undergoing seismic change.
Huey’s championing of black music begins to break down social barriers helps pave the way for a musical revolution! But Tennessee’s strict segregation laws inevitably blight his romance with Felicia, and she is forced to choose between Huey and her blossoming career.
Here are 5 reasons why you should go and see Memphis, The Musical. Why not buy tickets for a loved one as a Christmas gift.
The singer has the kind of voice that makes you stop, look and listen. She combines charisma and power and show’s you why she is one of the greatest rnb singers of our time. Beverley looks amazing as well, she had lots of costume changes throughout the show; pencil skirts, pretty dresses, glitz, glamour, that showcase her incredibly slender and toned body.
Charismatic actor Killian Donnelly captivates as Huey Calhoun, a chancer who is determined to bring fresh sounds to local radio listeners. His acting is superb, he has excellent comic timing and his soulful voice is infectious.
Set in a pivotal moment in musical history, the musical is inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of the 1950s, when African-American R&B music is captivating a new generation of young white fans and causing grave alarm to their more rigid parents.
The score is by Bon Jovi founder member and keyboard player David Bryan (who collaborated on the lyrics with Joe DiPietro) and is full of infectious funk and pop tunes that will have you dancing in your seat.
This is a rousing spectacle where audiences will feast their eyes and ears on catchy, original songs, a touching story, with heart and comedy and high-energy dance numbers. The show has already won a Tony Award in the US – and it’s clear to see why!
The love story
We all enjoy a good love story and you will root for Felicia and Huey to make a success of their relationship despite the prejudices and obstacles in their way. Will they make it? You will have to go and watch and find out for yourself.
Memphis runs until March 28 at Shaftesbury Theatre. For tickets and information visit www.memphisthemusical.com or call the Box office: 020-7379 5399.